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The base is home to the facility where the United States Army trains its soldiers and service members from allied and partner nations on using the Patriot system.
“The Patriot will contribute to the air defense capabilities that Ukraine already has,” said Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder. “It’s something that will enable them to take down … ballistic missiles, adversary aircraft; [it’s] really up to them on how they employ it. But this is part of a broader effort by the United States and the international community to provide Ukraine with the air defense capabilities that it needs to defend its population and its armed forces.”
The number of troops sent to Fort Sill – a reported 90 to 100 – is approximately how many are needed to operate one battery.
Each Patriot battery consists of a truck-mounted launching system with eight launchers that can hold up to four missile interceptors, as well as ground radar, a control station, and a generator.
The Ukrainians are now learning to operate and maintain the Patriot
Hitting the Books on Patriot
The training will focus on what Ukrainian troops will require to operate the systems when they return home with the Patriot.
It will include classroom work, hands-on training with the Patriot launcher and hardware, and time in a simulation lab to help them master the complex air defense platform.
“The training will be tailored to provide relevant tactics, techniques and procedures based on the battlefield conditions in Ukraine to enable them to employ that to maximum effect once they are back in Ukraine,” Ryder added.
Kyiv had requested the Patriot surface-to-air guided missile defense system from the United States to help it counter the onslaught of Russian aerial attacks that have been targeting Ukraine’s urban centers and critical infrastructure.
In his visit to the United States last month, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the battery would make a significant difference in bolstering Kyiv’s defenses.
The United States had pledged to provide one Patriot battery in December, and on Tuesday, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced that the Netherlands would also supply a Patriot air defense system to Ukraine.
“We have the intention to join what you are doing with Germany on the Patriot project,” Rutte said at the White House during a meeting with President Joe Biden, adding, “I think that it’s important we join that.”
Germany has also pledged to provide a Patriot battery.
The Patriot is one of the most widely operated and reliable air defense systems in operation today. U.S. batteries are deployed around the world, while the platform is also operated by the Netherlands, Germany, Japan, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Taiwan, Greece, Spain, South Korea, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Romania, Sweden, Poland, and Bahrain.
One issue with the Patriot is the cost.
The launchers have a reported price tag of around $10 million each, while each interceptor missile for the system costs approximately $4 million.
It, therefore, isn’t cost-effective to shoot smaller ordnance such as the Iranian drones that Moscow has used in its relentless terror campaign against Ukraine’s cities.
However, the Patriot could prove crucial in stopping weapons such as the Kh-22 – a missile described as an “aircraft carrier killer” – that was used to destroy the Dnipro apartment building in a Russian attack over the past weekend.
Russia has vowed to destroy any American Patriot missile batteries that are deployed to Ukraine.
Author Experience and Expertise: A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.