- Chris Patridge
- Weapons Analyst – BBC
The White House confirmed that Ukraine will acquire the Patriot missile defense system in order to be able to counter Russian attacks with missiles and drones, prior to the arrival of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to Washington on Wednesday.
Since the beginning of the Ukrainian war last February, Ukraine has received various Western air defense systems, the most important of which are shoulder-launched Stinger missiles, and more advanced radar-guided and thermal-tracking defense systems. The missiles received by Kyiv provide an advanced level of protection against various threats.
The Patriot defense system is a new step in the same direction, which would enhance the country’s ability to confront Russia’s superior military machine.
Of course, these missiles will not be a magic solution, but they have very great capabilities, in addition to being effective and high cost. Each Patriot missile costs $3 million, which is roughly three times the value of a single missile used in the NASAMS air defense system. Two NASAMS units entered service with the Ukrainian army several weeks ago.
The White House said, in a statement issued in this regard, that the new Patriot missiles will be an “important component necessary to defend the Ukrainian people against barbaric Russian attacks on Ukraine’s critical infrastructure.”
These missile systems were used to counter the Russian-made Scud missiles used by Iraq in the first Gulf War, and since then their development has not stopped by its manufacturer, Raytheon Technologies. One battery of this system includes a command unit, a radar station to monitor the incoming threat, and a missile launch unit.
The effective range of the system ranges from 40 to 160 km, depending on the missile used. These systems are deployed to defend specific areas such as large cities, vital military targets, or vital infrastructure such as power plants or factories, i.e. what is known as high-value assets.
The US announcement referred to one unit of the Patriot system, which includes a radar station, a command unit, and a missile launch vehicle.
The unit is expected to be deployed in areas with high value assets or major cities for additional protection.
We will not know the places where these missiles are deployed, as once they reach the hands of the Ukrainians, they will become Ukrainian property and under the command of the army.
It should also be noted that neither US nor other NATO countries will operate these systems inside Ukraine. Therefore, the Ukrainian forces must train to use them, and the training will take place outside Ukraine.
This training may be taking place now. The US military said that it will expand the training of Ukrainian forces in general in Germany, starting next January.
For its part, Moscow described any plans to deploy Patriot missiles in Ukraine as a “provocation” and an expansion of the US military intervention in the country. Russia said that these missiles would be a “legitimate target” for its missile attacks, a phrase that was made before the start of this war.
The decision to send the Patriot missiles is an affirmation that Washington remains committed to providing whatever is necessary to help Ukraine defend itself.
On the other hand, Iran’s continued supply of drones to Russia and possibly other weapons raises more concerns. The end result of the Iranian role is the deployment of more advanced Western defense systems in Ukraine, which Moscow does not want.
In conclusion, it is very difficult to accurately determine the effect of deploying Patriot missiles in Ukraine.
These missiles would certainly provide additional protection, but given the size and cost of these missiles, few would be sent to Kyiv.