For the first time, Ukraine used the American Patriot air defense system to intercept an incoming Russian hypersonic missile over the weekend.
The Patriot air defense systems were not sent to Ukraine in large numbers, with at least two of the missile systems having been donated to the country.
Writing on Telegram on Saturday, the commander of the Ukrainian Air force, Mykola Oleshchuk, said that the Patriot missile intercepted a Kinzhal missile – a Russian hypersonic, air-launched ballistic missile that Oleshchuk described as “unmatched.”
Without the Patriot system, Ukrainian forces may have struggled to intercept the rocket, which is capable of traveling at ten times the speed of sound.
Germany has sent one Patriot system to Ukraine, and at least one other system was gifted by the United States.
The arrival of the advanced rocket system was announced in April, when Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said on social media that the first of several American surface-to-air rocket systems had made Ukrainian skies more secure.
“Today, our beautiful Ukrainian sky becomes more secure,” the Ukrainian official wrote.
The United States announced plans to deliver surface-to-air missile systems, designed to help defend against Russia’s heavy bombardment of Ukrainian cities with cruise missiles and other munitions.
The MIM-104 Patriot surface-to-air missile system is manufactured by Raytheon, Boeing, and Lockheed Martin. In service since 1981, the American missile system has been used in the Gulf War, Iraq War, the Syrian Civil War, and a multitude of other major conflicts across the globe. While the missile has been in service for over 40 years, the system was designed n 1969.
What Russia Thinks
In December, Russian President Vladimir Putin responded to reports of a U.S. aid package that included Patriot systems was headed to Ukraine, expressing no concern about the prospect of advanced missile systems being used by the Ukrainian military.
“They say they may send Patriot there, fine, we will crack the Patriot too,” Putin told reporters.
The Russian president also dismissed the American missile systems, describing them as “quite old.”
Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yurii Inhat appeared to agree with President Putin over the weekend, describing the weapon as “outdated” to reporters on Saturday.
“The Patriot is an outdated American weapon, and Russian weapons are the best in the world,” Inhat said.
The interception of one of Russia’s most advanced missiles is a significant development that Moscow is no doubt already trying to figure out how to counter.
Jack Buckby is 19FortyFive’s Breaking News Editor. He is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.