The US to send Patriot air defense system to Ukraine, says report
The increased intensity of Russian attack on electricity grids in Ukraine has now prompted the U.S. government to send the most advanced air defense system in its arsenal to the conflict zone, The Washington Post reported. The plan is still in the works and could be approved soon, senior officials told the outlet on the condition of anonymity.
Since the Russian forces crossed the Ukrainian borders in February this year, the U.S. government has been supporting Ukraine with arms and ammunition to ward off the aggressive troops. While this aid has included some of the swankiest drones, the U.S. has held back on providing the most advanced military equipment.
The White House National Security Council is, however, now looking at shifting its stance as Russia has stepped up its attacks on Ukraine's electricity infrastructure as the region enters a cold and harsh winter.
Russia turns to Iran for help
While the conflict in Ukraine was successful in depleting the Russian arsenal and blunting its attack strength, Moscow has now turned to Iran for help in its attacks. Iranian drones have already been used in Russian attacks, but reports now suggest that Iran has agreed to commit an even larger number of drones to the cause, running into thousands.
Additionally, Russia is banking on Iranian ballistic missiles for its attacks as its own stock of missiles is running low. Last month, Interesting Engineering reported that the U.S. had supplied the National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS) to strengthen Ukrainian air defense. However, the system seems to be proving inadequate to handle the battery of air assault coming from the Russian side, and the U.S. is preparing to deliver its best air defense system, the Patriot Missile System.
What is the Patriot Missile System?
Developed by Raytheon, the Patriot Missile System is trusted by 17 nations for their air defense. The system consists of a high-tech radar capable of detecting incoming aerial threats and a mobile launcher fitted on a truck chassis that can fire long-range interceptor missiles to counter them.
Each battery of the Patriot system consists of up to eight launchers, each capable of holding anywhere between 4-16 missiles depending on the type of munition used. While the operational crew of the Patriot system is just three members, the U.S. military assigns 90 troops to a typical battery, which includes maintenance staff and communication specialists.
A Patriot missile can travel to altitudes as high as 79,000 feet (24,000 m) and can be fired at targets as far as 100 miles (160 km). Most Russian attacks have come from within its territory or over the Black Sea and the Patriot System can nullify cruise and ballistic missiles as well as aircraft effectively.
While the Patriot system will be a shot in the arm for the Ukrainian forces, the training of troops typically takes six months or longer, something the grounds do not have the luxury of. The U.S. Department of Defense is therefore looking into how the training could be accelerated and a recent upgrade to the Patriot System, which provides a user-friendly interface, could come in handy now.
The U.S. currently has 15 Patriot battalions which are deployed in Europe and the Middle East, while its allies also use the missile system. The unit to be supplied to Ukraine are expected to come from U.S. stocks but not from the operational units. Details of the ammunition to be supplied with the system are currently unknown, the WaPo said in its report.
With many scientists still unhappy with the IAU's definition of "planet," it's possible the debate will never be resolved!