What will be the benefit of the Patriot anti-aircraft missile complex that the USA will give to Kiev?

Patriot missile system at the military base in Gaziantep, Turkey. The expected US delivery of Patriot missiles to Ukraine will bolster defenses against a Russian attack, but its impact on the battlefield will be limited. BÜLENT KILIC / AFP

FOCUS- Delivery of the Patriot battery would allow Ukraine to better defend against Russian strikes, even if its impact on the conflict is not decisive.

Vladimir Zelensky finally won his case. Despite the strict demands of the Ukrainian president, the Pentagon was reluctant to deliver the Patriot anti-aircraft missile system to Ukraine. On Wednesday, December 21, during the Ukrainian president’s visit to Washington, the White House finally announced the shipment of new military aid to Kiev, including a Patriot battery (for “phase-in tracking radar for target acquisition”).

Ukraine has experienced water and electricity cuts in a number of cities due to the intensification of Russian bombings against infrastructure. The Patriot system will comeStrengthening the air defense arsenal that protects Ukraine from Russian strikes“explains Philip Gross, senior researcher at the Institute for Strategic Studies (IRS). This defensive weapon uses radar to detect threats on approach, before destroying them with a missile launch, with a flight range of up to 160 km.

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Limited impact on the battlefield

Washington has already provided the Ukrainian military with several air defense systems, including Hawk batteries. In October, within the framework of cooperation with Norway, the Americans also introduced NASAMS missiles. Ukraine also has Buks and Russian-made S-300s. The Patriot anti-aircraft missile battery will reinforce this, providing an additional layer of defense, although it is not the most effective at intercepting the low-altitude missiles or drone bombs used by Russian forces to target infrastructure.Ukrainians.

Rather, Patriot batteries were designed to intercept missiles at high altitudes. But the Russians have not yet used it in Ukraine. Despite this,”The Patriot anti-missile system can be very effective against Fateh cruise missiles“, Philippe Gros emphasizes. The United States suspects that Moscow wants to buy short-range ballistic missiles from its Iranian ally.

Moreover, if such a system can protect an infrastructure such as a power plant or even a city, it cannot cover an entire region. Therefore, its specific impact on the balance of power must be nuanced. Especially since official statements refer to a single battery. Therefore, there is a question about its location.

Expensive and complex system

His imminent arrival on the battlefield irritates the Kremlin. Russia is indeed relying on an intensive bombing strategy. However, this system will allow Ukraine to strengthen its defense strategy. “All this undoubtedly leads to the escalation of the conflict and does not bode well for UkraineKremlin spokesman said. In this process, Vladimir Putin also announced that the Russian fleet will be equipped with new “Zirkon” hypersonic cruise missiles at the beginning of January.

Until now, fear of escalating tensions with Moscow has kept the US behind – and so has the device’s exorbitant price. The Patriot rocket costs about three million dollars, three times more than the NASAMS rocket. The amount of ammunition provided by Washington is not yet known. One thing is certain: it will take time before the system is deployed in the field. Patriot batteries are one of the most complicated systems to use. After the equipment is sent to Europe, Ukrainian soldiers will undergo training in a third country. According to Joe Biden, he should accept it”for a while“.

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