Weapons delivery: US considers Patriot air defense systems for Ukraine

According to media reports, the US government is considering supplying the Patriot air defense system to Ukraine.

Weapons delivery: US considers Patriot air defense systems for Ukraine

According to media reports, the US government is considering supplying the Patriot air defense system to Ukraine. However, the project still has to be approved by Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, several US media reported, citing unnamed government sources. The Patriot air defense system would reshuffle some of the cards in Russia-attacked Ukraine. It can repel aircraft, cruise missiles, drones or missiles even at a greater distance.

The US Department of Defense initially did not confirm the reports. There is currently nothing to announce, said Pentagon spokesman Pat Ryder. One is in talks with Kyiv and always checks "the entire spectrum of security support and defense capabilities" in US inventories with a view to needs. According to reports, there could be a final announcement later this week. It is now also unclear how many so-called Patriot batteries the USA would deliver to Ukraine. The United States is already delivering Himars multiple rocket launchers and the Nasams air defense system to Ukraine.

Patriot anti-aircraft system would significantly strengthen Ukraine

According to experts, the Patriot system ("Phased Array Tracking Radar to Intercept on Target") would make a big difference for Ukraine. Infrastructure and population centers will be better protected against destructive Russian airstrikes, while freedom of movement for Ukrainian forces on the ground will increase. Depending on the location, it could extend beyond Russian territory.

Ideally, different air defense systems form several "interception layers" - the upper, the middle and the so-called close and close range. The Patriot missiles hit a distance of up to 100 kilometers in an imaginary bell around the position, depending on the guided missile used. The system thus reaches further than the Iris-T anti-aircraft missile, which has already been delivered from Germany and has a range of 40 kilometers. Germany has also already given Ukraine the Gepard anti-aircraft gun tank, which shoots down its targets up to 3 kilometers away.

Germany itself had 36 of the Patriot systems during the Cold War, which should have formed a barrier belt along the inner-German border with the Warsaw Pact. The Bundeswehr now only has 12 systems. About half are currently with the industry for technical updates. The fact that NATO has deployed its air defenses in an integrated manner means that Germany does not have to defend itself entirely on its own - and in the event of a US engagement could have repercussions as far as Ukraine.

Because the US armed forces also have Patriots stationed in Germany. It is obvious and probable that Ukrainians - as is already the case with other weapon systems - will be trained in Germany, for example at the Grafenwöhr military training area in Bavaria. This is also reported by the US media. But it is unclear how quickly the Ukrainians could be trained on the Patriot system.

Training takes months - actually

Possibly, the training could also be organized in a hurry, i.e. within a few weeks, because the Ukrainians have proven to be resourceful in the use of new weapon systems. So far, other experts have said that a year must be estimated for a reasonable training, which also takes into account the overlapping of the various systems for mutual protection. Training on the Patriot systems alone usually takes several months. Patriot batteries also require much larger crews than smaller air defense systems to operate properly.

With better Western weapons, Ukraine is increasingly becoming a "no-fly zone" for Russian aircraft, and missiles and drones are also being better intercepted. However, this is expensive for Ukraine's western partners and demands resources, since Russia can also generate targets with cheap drones and thus relies on the high consumption of ammunition. US military support to Kyiv alone has totaled about $20 billion since US President Joe Biden took office in early 2021.

US delivery could put Germany under pressure

And what does a delivery of the Patriot defense mean for the federal government, which has so far declared unity in the actions of the NATO partners to be the top priority? It is then only a small step to demand Patriots for Ukraine from Germany as well. Poland has already done that.

After a missile hit Polish territory, Berlin and Warsaw recently agreed that German Patriot missile defense systems would be relocated to Poland. Poland's Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak caused a lot of irritation in Berlin because he suggested stationing the Patriots better in Ukraine. Now the German weapons are supposed to be on Polish soil as planned.