On April 19, 2023, Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov tweeted that MIM-104 Patriot missiles arrived in Ukraine. The U.S.-made surface-to-air missile system came from Germany and is a big step in reinforcing Ukraine's air defense network.
Reznikov noted that he first requested Patriot missiles during a visit to the United States in August 2021. The request was denied and called "impossible." Ukraine's subsequent requests for Patriot missiles became more critical following Russia's full-scale invasion in February 2022. Since then, Ukraine's air defense network has worked overtime to defeat incoming Russian missiles and aircraft which have struck the nation's infrastructure as well as residential areas.
In his tweet, Reznikov emphasized, "Today, our beautiful Ukrainian sky becomes more secure because Patriot air defense systems have arrived in Ukraine." Crucially, Ukrainian soldiers trained on the Patriot both at Fort Sill, Oklahoma and in Germany. "Our air defenders have mastered them as fast as they could," Reznikov tweeted. As a result, the Patriot battery could be quickly deployed following its arrival in Ukraine.
Introduced in 1981, the Patriot missile is one of the Big Five systems that helped modernize the U.S. Army. Exclusively a defensive weapon, the Patriot serves as the Army's primary High to Medium Air Defense system and can engage both enemy aircraft and missiles. Although the system's performance against Iraqi Scud missiles during Operation Desert Storm remains a topic of debate, the Patriot has achieved undisputed shootdowns in Israeli service. In 2014, Israeli Patriot batteries shot down two Hamas UAVs as well as a Syrian Su-24 Fencer fighter-bomber.
In addition to the U.S., Germany and Israel, the Patriot is operated by Greece, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, the Netherlands, Poland, Qatar, Romania, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan and the UAE. The U.S. and Dutch governments have committed to providing Patriots to Ukraine.
The Patriot system is just a part of Ukraine's military buildup as it prepares for a Spring 2023 counteroffensive against Russian forces. "Our top priority is to quickly build a multi-level air defense/anti-missile defense system," Reznikov tweeted on April 20. "Patriots, IRIS-T, NASAMS, and MiG-29 are the most recent, but not the final, steps towards this goal. Given the kremlin's barbaric tactics, we need NATO-style fighter jets." Ukraine has submitted repeated requests for F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter planes, none of which have been approved.
Feature Image: twitter.com/oleksiireznikov