US will send Patriot missiles to Ukraine
The air defense systems could be on their way within days, the network reported
The administration of US President Joe Biden is finalizing plans to send Patriot missiles to Ukraine, CNN reported on Tuesday. Kiev has been requesting the American air defense systems for months, as Russia continues its strikes on Ukrainian military and infrastructure targets.
The plan is in its final stages and needs approval from Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin before it can be sent to Biden’s desk for his signature, the report stated, citing three anonymous US officials. Austin’s approval is expected, and an announcement could be made as soon as this week, the officials told CNN.
A single Patriot missile battery comprises a power unit, a command station, a radar unit and antennae, and up to eight truck-mounted launchers, each holding four surface-to-air missiles. Developed by US defense contractor Raytheon, the system has a range of up to 99 miles (160km), and can intercept incoming missiles or aircraft.
The Patriot system was tested extensively during the Gulf War, with the Pentagon claiming it successfully intercepted 45 out of 47 Iraqi Scud missiles during the six-week conflict. However, the Israeli military later revealed that “one or possibly none” of the Scuds were actually intercepted, while a 2017 New York Times report found the Patriot system ineffective when used by Saudi Arabia against Houthi missiles fired from Yemen.
It is unclear how many Patriot systems the US will send to Ukraine. CNN wrote that the missile batteries will first go to a US Army base in Grafenwoehr, Germany, where Ukrainian crews will be trained to operate them. The network also noted that training on the Patriot platform normally takes “multiple months.”
The US has already sent short-range NASAMS anti-air systems to Ukraine, but Kiev has specifically been requesting Patriot batteries since October, when Russia began consistently striking Ukrainian military command and power grid targets in response to Ukraine’s attacks on its infrastructure, including the Crimean Bridge.
The Pentagon said late last month that this request was “being considered” by the Biden administration.
Moscow has vocally opposed the deployment of Patriots and any supporting NATO personnel to Ukraine, with the deputy head of Russia’s Security Council, Dmitry Medvedev, warning that they would become “legitimate targets” for Russian forces.