An American soldier stands in front of a Patriot air defense system. (Archive photo) © Jakub Kaminski/dpa
The Patriot system is one of the most modern air defense systems in the world. Even the US has underestimated the potential of its own weapon in the Ukraine war.
Washington/Kyiv – In the Ukraine war, Russia is unconditionally continuing its air strikes, but defending Ukraine seems to be well prepared: It was only at the beginning of May that the Russian leadership ordered the shelling of Kyiv with Kinschal hypersonic missiles – a weapon that was previously considered unstoppable. The attack was confidently repelled by the Ukrainian Air Force, not least because of the American Patriot air defense system.
Meanwhile, several offensives with Putin's "secret weapon" have been thwarted and there is an uproar in the Kremlin over the failed attack attempts. The United States is at least as surprised by the strength of Ukraine's air defenses. According to a military expert, the Pentagon is baffled by the potential that Ukrainian soldiers are getting out of the foreign missile system.
U.S. surprises with its own air defense system
In an interview with the Ukrainian radio station NV, Ivan Kirichsky, an expert at the military media and consulting company Defense Express, talks about the use of the Patriot air defense system in Ukraine. "The United States has been thinking for a long time about whether to give us Patriots or not," Kirichevskiy said. "It turned out that our air defense forces, with a crash course training, literally squeezed out of the Patriot a capability that the Pentagon did not think possible."
Since operating the air defense system requires in-depth training, the U.S. was extremely surprised by the first launch of the Russian Kinschal missile, according to Kirichevsky: "When CNN reported on the shooting down of the Kinschal, they enthusiastically quoted the words of a U.S. official: 'Imagine being able to shoot down several anti-aircraft missiles at once in such a short time – at least one, but she definitely hit the Kinschal,'" the military expert said.
Last March, after the intensive efforts of the Ukrainians to provide the sophisticated air defense system, the United States trained Ukrainian troops in the maintenance and operation of the system for ten weeks. American and Western officials were pleasantly surprised at how quickly the Ukrainians learned to deal with the Patriots, CNN reported.
Patriot defense systems active in the Ukraine war since April
Ukraine had received three units of the high-tech anti-aircraft system from the United States, Germany and the Netherlands in April. "Today, our beautiful Ukrainian skies are becoming safer because Patriot air defense systems have arrived in Ukraine," Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said in a statement on his social media channels on April 19. In the Ukraine war, the Patriot systems are primarily intended to fend off large-scale missile attacks on important cities such as Kyiv.
Patriot air defense system
Patriot ("Phased Array Tracking Radar for Intercept on Target") is one of the most modern air defense systems in the world. It can be used to combat enemy aircraft, ballistic missiles and cruise missiles.
At a distance of about 100 kilometers and up to an altitude of 30 kilometers, the anti-defense missiles can hit targets in an imaginary bell around the position - depending on the guided missile used.
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Washington agreed in October 2022 to supply Kyiv with the Patriot missile systems. Shortly before the arrival of the delivery of the Patriot defense systems in April, Russia had threatened to escalate the conflict with Ukraine due to a "provocation" by the West. (aa)