In the US, the Biden administration announced that it will provide an additional $1.85 billion in military aid to Ukraine, including the Patriot air defense system, which Ukrainian leader Zelensky said is urgently needed to fend off Russian attacks.
Here’s what you need to know about the Patriot...
WHAT IS THE PATRIOT SYSTEM?
Patriot, which stands for Phased Array Tracking Radar for Intercept on Target, is being produced by Raytheon. It is a surface-to-air missile defense system that is considered one of the most advanced air defense systems in the US’s weapon inventory.
The system was first used in combat with batteries protecting Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Israel during the 1991 Gulf War, and was later used in 2003 during the US invasion of Iraq.
A mobile system that usually includes a powerful radar, a control station, a power generator, launch stations and other support means.
The system has different capabilities depending on the type of interceptor used.
The PAC-2 interceptor uses a blast-fragmentation warhead, while the newer PAC-3 missile uses more advanced hit-and-destroy technology. The North Atlantic Pact (NATO) said in 2015 that the system’s radar has a range of over 150 kilometers.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank, a single newly produced Patriot battery costs over $1 billion; $400 million for the system and $690 million for missiles on battery.
HOW WIDELY IS THE SYSTEM USED?
Raytheon has produced more than 240 Patriot systems. These patriots are currently used by 18 countries, including the United States. The system is in high demand in the Middle East due to the threat Iran poses to the region.
According to Raytheon, the system has intercepted more than 150 ballistic missiles in combat since 2015.
HOW IT HELP UKRAINE?
Ukraine has said it needs more air defense systems to guard against missile and drone attacks from Russian forces.
The United States has so far provided Ukraine with a pair of National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS).
While the Patriot system is designed to intercept threats such as aircraft and ballistic missiles, it can also hit the “kamikaze” drones that Russia often sends to strike Ukraine’s critical infrastructure. But that would be an extremely expensive way to destroy drones that cost only thousands of dollars.
Officials and experts state that the Patriot system can save lives against incoming missiles, but since it is a defensive system, it will not change the course of the conflict that has been going on for about 10 months.
WHEN WILL IT REACH UKRAINE?
It will take several months before Ukraine can place the Patriot on the battlefield.
Speaking to Reuters, US officials said that the Patriot system will first come to Germany and that Ukrainian soldiers will learn how to use this system. Training can take months and requires dozens of soldiers to use each system.
Ukraine will then have to decide how and where to deploy the system before it is destroyed by Russian forces. Russia said the Patriot missile defense system would be a legitimate target for Russian attacks.