Israel has never been impressed with its version of the $1 billion Patriot air defense system. Now it could offload up to 8 to Ukraine.

Israel has never been impressed with its version of the $1 billion Patriot air defense system. Now it could offload up to 8 to Ukraine.
  • Israel could transfer up to eight Patriot missile batteries to Ukraine.

  • Israel is upgrading its air defense and looking to retire older Patriot batteries.

  • Ukraine has long coveted more of the $1 billion US-manufactured Patriot systems.

The US is involved in discussions about the possibility of transferring up to eight Patriot air defense batteries from Israel to Ukraine, in what would be a major boost for the latter in its fight against Russian President Vladimir Putin's invading forces.

While no agreement has been reached yet, a deal would likely involve transferring the batteries from Israel to the US and then on to Ukraine, the Financial Times reported.

It would be a welcome moment for Ukraine, which has long coveted more of the $1 billion US-manufactured Patriot systems.

"Israel's Patriots would greatly expand Ukraine's air defense capacity at a time when it is sorely needed," John Hardie, the Deputy Director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies Russia Program, said.

"While they are on the older side, these systems — and Israel's considerable stocks of interceptors — would help Ukraine defend its critical infrastructure and counter Russian jets that are pounding Ukrainian positions and towns with glide bombs," he added.

It comes after the Israeli Air Force announced earlier this year that it would be shutting down its aging Patriot batteries and replacing them with more advanced systems.

Israel has never been impressed with its versions of the Patriot system, having seen them struggle in combat against Iraqi Scud missiles fired at its cities in 1991, as Business Insider previously reported.

Officials estimated that it shot down only one or possibly even none of the missiles.

"Israel has long been looking for a more advanced and more indigenous system to supplement or replace the Patriot, not only given its service history but also the supply chain that it requires," Ryan Bohl, a senior Middle East and North Africa analyst at the risk intelligence company RANE, told BI.

"I think Israel views the Patriot as out of date and too expensive to keep up with given the breakthroughs that were demonstrated during that barrage by newer systems," Bohl added.

However, Israel has yet to fully retire its Patriot systems, as it is still using them in the ongoing conflict with Hamas and would likely want them should an all-out war with the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah break out.

Zelenskyy's Patriot pleas

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has never been shy about his desire to get his hands on more Patriot systems.

In April, Zelenskyy told NATO members that Ukraine needed at least seven Patriot or other advanced air defense systems to defend against Russian attacks.

"We are telling this directly – to defend, we need seven more 'Patriots' or similar air defence systems, and it's a minimum number. They can save many lives and really change the situation," Zelenskyy said.

"Putin must be brought down to earth, and our sky must become safe again.. And it depends fully on your choice... (the) choice whether we are indeed allies," he added.

And the president has seemingly had some luck in recent months.

President Joe Biden approved the deployment of another Patriot missile system to Ukraine earlier this month, the second the US has sent to the country, The New York Times previously reported, citing senior administration and military officials.

National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby also announced last week that the US would prioritize delivering Patriot missiles to Ukraine over other countries, calling it a "difficult but necessary decision."

The Patriot air defense system

A 2023 report by the Congressional Research Service describes the Patriot system as an "integral component of U.S. air and missile defense."

One Patriot battery is made up of six key parts, — a power plant, a radar set, an engagement control station, the antenna mast group, launcher stations, and the interceptor missiles.

The systems can operate using either PAC-2 or PAC-3 missiles. The PAC-2 works by detonating near a threatening missile, while the PAC-3 attempts to strike the warhead directly.

The first Patriot systems were used by the US in the 1980s, and they were later used in the Gulf War to defend against Iraqi Scud missiles.

The system's radar has a range of more than 150 kilometers (around 93 miles), and the missiles can travel at 5,000 kph (over 3,100 mph), per NATO.

Read the original article on Business Insider