The United States is about to approve the shipment to Ukraine of a series of missiles considered the most powerful in its arsenal, according to several official sources told the country’s media.
If officially confirmed, it would be a big step for the Joe Biden government, given that the decision had been delayed for months due to the risk that it would be seen as an escalation that would trigger a response from Moscow.
The hypothetical sending of a patriot missile battery is given after several urgent requests of Ukrainian leaders, desperate for more powerful weapons and capable of knocking down missiles with which the Russians are attacking them, according to US authorities on Tuesday.
Officials who spoke with the agency, with television and with newspapers on condition of anonymity said that the approval is likely to be announced on Thursday, although the decision is not final and will not be announced. has made public.
White House and Pentagon leaders have consistently said that providing Ukraine with additional air defenses is a priority and Patriot missiles had been under consideration for some time.
The officials said that as winter approached and Russian bombardment of civilian infrastructure increased, those considerations took on a higher priority.
In view of the press reports, the Kremlin affirmed this Wednesday that the Patriot anti-aircraft systems would become legitimate targets of the Russian Armed Forces, in case they are sent to Ukraine, coinciding with statements by the vice president of the Russian Security Council, Dmitri Medvedev.
What is it and why is the Patriot missile system so powerful?
The Patriot (Phased Array Tracking Radar to Intercept of Target) system relies on sophisticated radar to detect, counter, and destroy projectiles and short-range ballistic missiles.
Fire long-range missiles to intercept attacks. Their launchers sit on a truck chassis and are highly mobile.
The operation of this missile system begins with the detection of a target by the radar that tracks it to calculate the trajectory and speed.
The threat is then communicated to the command center where there will be a human operator or a computer system that executes the firing order.
Tracking information is given to the interceptor missile and 3 seconds later a missile begins traveling at 5 times the speed of sound to defeat the threat.
The Patriot PAC-3 interceptor missiles have their own radar capable of detecting the target and heading to it autonomously.
A typical Patriot battery includes up to eight launchers, each containing four ready-to-fire missiles. Only three soldiers are needed to operate and fire the missiles at the Patriot’s combat control station, according to the US Army.
However, the entire system, which includes phased array radar, control station, computers, and generators, typically requires around 90 soldiers to operate and maintain.
The most in-demand weapon for US allies
Los sistemas de misiles Patriot y otras armas tierra-aire sofisticadas similares tienen una gran demanda y se ha convertido en la columna vertebral de la defensa para muchos aliados y socios de EEUU.
The United States has its own Patriot units deployed in countries including Poland and Saudi Arabia, and has approved sales to others such as Romania, Kuwait, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.
This missile system was created by the Raytheon company and became well known after its massive use in the Gulf War.
It was also deployed in 2003 during the Iraq war and managed to hit nine incoming missiles, but was also involved in several friendly fire incidents, according to CNN.
How it would be operated in Ukraine
However, many questions remain about the possible transfer, including how long it would take to train Ukrainian soldiers in the system.
Also where the Patriots would be deployed within the Ukraine.
It was previously thought that US troops would be needed to operate it, but President Joe Biden has flatly refused to send combat troops to Ukraine.