Ukraine receives first Patriot air defense system from Germany – what to know

19 April, 02:44 PM
U.S. and Germany had previously promised to deliver the Patriot air defense system to Ukraine (Photo:ukraine_map/Twitter)

U.S. and Germany had previously promised to deliver the Patriot air defense system to Ukraine (Photo:ukraine_map/Twitter)

Germany has handed over its first U.S. Patriot anti-aircraft missile system and artillery as part of its newest aid package, the German government reported on April 18.

Germany generally provides reports after the equipment has been delivered to Ukraine.

Neither Kyiv, nor Washington, has yet confirmed the delivery of the Patriot system to Ukraine.

The United States has promised to provide Ukraine with at least one Patriot system. The U.S. officially announced their transfer before Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited Washington in Dec. 2022.

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In Jan. 2023, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced that Germany would join the U.S. in supplying an additional Patriot air defense battery to Ukraine.

NV looks at the Patriot system specifications and the chronology of negotiations regarding their supply to Ukraine.

The MIM-104 Patriot anti-aircraft missile system was adopted by the U.S. Army in the early 1980s. Its latest modification, called PAC-3, is designed to hit and intercept targets at an altitude of up to 24 km.

The main feature of the latest Patriot system is the ability to shoot down ballistic missiles. These include missiles that Russia uses to attack Ukraine, including Iskanders, Kinzhals (hypersonic air-to-air missiles), and Zircons (hypersonic anti-ship missiles).

The Patriot system uses advanced interceptor missiles and highly effective radar systems.

The system includes four main functions:

  • communication;
  • command and control;
  • radar surveillance;
  • missile guidance.

The launchers are highly mobile – one battery can be deployed in less than an hour – while system components are transported on trucks or trailers.

One Patriot PAC-3 launcher is designed for four types of MIM-104 missiles, GEM-T (missiles with advanced guidance), or 16 ERINT missiles (missile-interceptors of extended range). One Patriot battery consists of up to eight launchers.

The average range of use of one Patriot launcher is 150 km. The air defense system can track targets at a speed of up to 2,200 m/s at a distance of up to 180 km.

Other important characteristics of the Patriot air defense system:

  • target tracking range – up to 180 km
  • target interception range – up to 80 km
  • target interception height – up to 24 km.

Ukraine has been asking the U.S. for Patriot systems since before Russia’s full-scale invasion, CNN reported in Dec. 2021.

Even after Russia began pummeling Ukraine with massive missile strikes beginning in Oct. 2022, the provision of Patriot systems was in question. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, specifically, wanted guarantees that already delivered systems were effective and functioning, as they require ammunition and spare parts.

The Pentagon confirmed its plans to send the Patriot systems to Ukraine by Dec. 13, reported Voice of America. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that the Patriots would “definitely” become a target for the Russian invaders.

The White House officially announced the transfer of the Patriot systems to Ukraine on Dec. 21. Later, Germany also announced that it would transfer a Patriot air defense battery to Ukraine.

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