What the US Patriot missile system can do for Ukraine

A US Army MIM-104 Patriot surface-to-air missile (SAM) launcher at the Rzeszow-Jasionka airport, Poland, on March 16 (Reuters) (FABRIZIO BENSCH /)

missile systems patriot have long been a fashion item for state Joined and its allies in troubled areas of the world as a coveted shield against incoming missiles. In Europe, East Medium and the Peacefulprotect against possible attacks from Iran, Somalia Y North Korea.

Therefore, the news that state Joined has agreed to send a battery of missiles patriot a Ukraine -something the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called for months to increase his country’s air defenses – was a turning point. US officials have confirmed the deal, and an official announcement is expected shortly. But experts warn that the effectiveness of the system is limited and may not be a game changer in war.

A look at what the system is and what it does:

What is Patriot?

The patriot is a system of surface-to-air guided missiles which was first deployed in the 1980s and can engage aircraft, cruise missiles, and short-range ballistic missiles.

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each battery patriot consists of a truck-mounted launch system with eight launchers that can hold up to four interceptor missiles eacha ground radar, a control station and a generator. The Army said it currently has 16 Patriot battalions. According to a 2018 report from the International Institute for Strategic Studiesthose battalions operate 50 batteries, which have more than 1,200 missile interceptors.

US batteries are regularly deployed around the world. In addition, the patriots are also operated or are being acquired by the countries Low, Germany, Japan, Israel, arabian arabia, Kuwait, taiwan, Greece, Spain, South Korea, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Romania, Sweden, Poland Y bahrain.

The system patriot “It is one of the most widely used, reliable and proven air missile defense systems in existence,” and the theater ballistic missile defense capability could help defend Ukraine against Iranian-supplied ballistic missiles, he said. Tom karakodirector of Missile Defense Project of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Patriot system cost

Over the years, the system patriot and its missiles have undergone continuous modifications. The current interceptor missile for the system patriot costs approximately 4 million dollars per round and the launchers cost about $10 million each, reported the CSIS in his July report on missile defense. At that price, it is neither profitable nor optimal to use the patriot to shoot down the much smaller and much cheaper Iranian drones that Russia has been buying and using in Ukraine.

Members of the military stand next to a control center for the Patriot missile defense system, at the Sliac airport, near Zvolen, Slovakia, on May 6, 2022 (Reuters)
Members of the army next to a control center of the Patriot missile defense system, at the Sliac airport, near Zvolen, Slovakia, on May 6, 2022 (Reuters) (RADOVAN STOKLASA /)

Shooting a million dollar missile at a $50,000 drone is a losing proposition“, he claimed Mark singretired colonel of the reserve of the marine corps and Senior Advisor to CSIS.

deployment issues

A battery patriot may require up to 90 soldiers to operate and maintain, and for months state Joined was reluctant to provide the complex system because sending forces to Ukraine for its operation is not a viable option for the administration Biden.

But there were also concerns that the deployment of the system would provoke Russiaor the risk that a fired missile would end up hitting within Russia, which could further aggravate the conflict. Urgent pleas from Ukraine’s leadership and the devastating destruction of the country’s civilian infrastructure, including the loss of electricity and heat as winter dragged on, eventually overwhelmed US reservations about the supply of the patriots.

A key hurdle will be training. US troops will have to train Ukrainian forces in the use and maintenance of the system. Army soldiers assigned to battalions patriot they receive extensive training to be able to effectively locate a target, lock on the radar, and fire.

state Joined has trained Ukrainian troops in other complex weapons systems, such as high-mobility artillery rocket systems, known as HIMARS. In many cases they have been able to cut training short, bringing Ukrainian troops to the front lines in weeks. The authorities have refused to give details about the duration of the training of the patriots and the exact place where it will take place.

Patriot Capabilities

Ukraine faces a series of Russian threats, and the patriot it is good against some and not so useful against others.

A former senior military officer with knowledge of the system patriot said it will be effective against ballistic missiles short range and represents a strong message of US support, but a battery will not change the course of the war.

FILE - In this image released by the US Department of Defense, German soldiers assigned to Surface Air and Missile Defense Wing 1, fire the Patriot weapons system at the NATO Missile Firing Installation, in Chania, Greece, on Nov. 8, 2017.
FILE – In this file photo released by the US Department of Defense, German soldiers assigned to 1st Surface Air and Missile Defense Wing fire the Patriot weapon system at the NATO Missile Firing Facility in Chania, Greece. , on November 8, 2017 (AP)

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the agreement with Ukraine has not yet been made public, noted that a battery patriot It has a long firing range, but can only cover a limited wide area. For example, the patriots can effectively protect a small military base, but they cannot fully protect a big city like kyiv. They could only cover a segment of a city.

The patriots they are usually deployed as a battalion, which includes four batteries. This will not be the case Ukrainewhich, according to the authorities, will receive a battery.

The patriot it has a more powerful radar that better discriminates targets than the system S-300 from the Soviet era that the Ukrainians have been using, but it has limitations, they said both karako What sing.

However, the ability of the patriot to target some ballistic missiles and aircraft could protect kyiv if the russian president Vladimir putin follow through on its persistent threat to deploy a tactical nuclear device. But that would depend on how the gun was thrown, he said. karako. If it were a gravity bomb dropped by a warplane, the system could target the aircraft; if it were a short-to-medium-range or cruise ballistic missile, it could also intercept the missile, he said. karako.

raytheonwhich makes the patriotclaims to have been involved in 150 ballistic missile interceptions since 2015. The success rate of the patriot, however, has been repeatedly questioned. A report from the Government Accountability Office of 1992 said it could find no evidence to support reports that the system had achieved a 70% success rate against missiles. scud on the gulf war. In 2018, the success of Saudi Arabia in the use of patriots against missiles fired by rebels Houthi in Yemen was called into question when videos of systems failing surfaced.

But beyond the capabilities of the patriottheir deployment is a great statement of support for Ukraine.

There is a lot of symbolism here“, said sing.

(C) The Associated Press.-