President Biden Approves the Transfer of Another Partriot System to Ukraine

Nine in. One more to go.

Shankar Narayan
7 min readJun 13, 2024
Air-Defense (Licensed Image)

The United States has decided to send another Patriot air-defense system to Ukraine, bringing the total number of units supplied by the United States to two. Germany has provided three systems. The Netherlands has given one unit and is preparing to send another. Altogether, this will bring the number of Patriot systems in Ukraine to seven.

According to the NewYork Times:

Mr. Biden’s decision came last week, the officials said, after a series of high-level meetings and an internal debate over how to meet Ukraine’s pressing needs for bolstered air defenses without jeopardizing U.S. combat readiness.

The new Patriot system — the second that the United States has sent to Ukraine — will come from Poland, where it has been protecting a rotational force of American troops who will be returning to the United States, officials said.

The system could be deployed to Ukraine’s front lines in the next several days, U.S. officials said, depending on any maintenance or modifications it needs.

There are many actions Western partners can take to tilt the balance of the war in favor of Ukraine. High-density air-defense coverage is one such factor that, if implemented effectively, could significantly change the course of the conflict. Since May of last year, Ukraine has demonstrated its ability to use air-defense units as effective weapons against fighter jets and other Russian aircraft.

They have been highly successful in taking out Russian fighter jets both in occupied territory and within Russian borders. This success was so pronounced that at one point last year, the United States and Germany requested that Ukraine stop moving its Patriot air-defense systems into Russian territory to target Russian fighter jets.

German newspaper Bild reported this: “Ukraine is also barred from using Western air defense systems against attacks from Russian aircraft — it has to wait until bombers release their cruise missiles and these are over Ukrainian territory to combat them. As per Bild’s information, the Ukrainian army used the Patriot system independently at least once. The reaction: angry calls from Berlin and Washington and threats to end anti-aircraft missile supplies if such an incident repeats.”

The funniest part of this whole charade is that both the German and American armies are very proud of what Ukraine has achieved with its Patriots. The German trainers taught Ukraine to ambush Russian jets, calling it the SAMbush.

During training conducted in April 2023, the German trainers rehearsed with the Ukrainian Patriot unit, practicing crossing the border, taking down a Russian fighter jet, and then crossing back into Ukraine to disappear. This is exactly what Ukraine did in the middle of May 2023, successfully knocking out a series of Russian fighter jets.

Screenshot from Aljazeera

However, this success led to a furious reprimand from higher-ups in Washington, D.C., and Berlin, who asked Ukraine to stop using the Patriots as offensive weapons.

It was somewhat logical to expect this from the the U.S. and German administrations. Their earlier position, not the current one, was to support Ukraine defensively. This is why they requested that Ukraine not target Russian fighter jets flying inside Russian territory before they launched their bombs. They wanted to show Vladimir Putin that they were helping Ukraine defend itself, not attack.

To be honest, the United States and Germany could have achieved this goal. They could have created an impenetrable defense for Ukraine, and then using this to let Putin defeat himself against the brick wall erected by Germany and the United States. So, the problem was not their idea. But they way they executed their all out defense idea.

How did they expect Ukraine to defend itself with four Patriot units?

That is a negligible number against a country manufacturing 100 to 150 missiles every month and importing missiles from Iran and North Korea. It was a weak defense, further complicated by restrictions on any innovative use of the air-defense systems given to Ukraine.

Thankfully, both restrictions have been removed. The United States has publicly stated that Ukraine can hit Russian fighter jets before they launch their bombs. This means Ukraine can now use any of its frontline Patriot systems as dual-purpose weapons: to defend against missiles and to attack any Russian aircraft that comes within their range.

So far, we haven’t heard anything about Ukraine using the French-manufactured SAMP/T long-range air-defense systems as offensive weapons. It is possible, but we do have confirmation from various sources that Ukraine is using the Patriots to conduct SAMbush tactics.

As a result, every additional Patriot battery provided to Ukraine significantly enhances its ability to defend its territory against Russian missiles and to destroy Russian fighter jets.

Two for one.

Never fight for a draw

Please take a moment to watch this video, where a U.S. Army woman explains how Ukrainians were trained for SAMbush and how they executed it a month later. Her face literally lights up. These are men and women trained to fight — to fight to win and to protect their home against the enemy.

It is in their DNA.

There is a complete disconnect between the people who wear the greens and the people who wear the suits in the United States and Germany. Why did German trainers teach Ukrainians about SAMbush? Because they recognized it as a valuable asset on the battlefield, and it is. Thank God for them, as now Ukraine has a massive advantage, one that not many in the world thought existed.

A lot of experts point to the cost of the Patriot air-defense system. A battery is estimated to cost upwards of $1 billion, and one Patriot interceptor missile costs nearly $4 million.

I really don’t understand the logic of anyone who points to the cost of these systems as a disadvantage.

  • How much does a Su-27, the fighter jet that forms the lowest end of the Russian jet spectrum, cost? At least $30 million.
  • How much does a Kh-101 missile cost, the one that Russia lavishly uses to terrorize Ukrainian population centers? Somewhere near $13 million.
  • How much does a destroyed Ukrainian hydroelectric power station cost? Sometimes the total damage is around two hundred to five hundred million dollars.

So, what kind of cost are we talking about?

Another important factor to remember is that despite having a growing arsenal of missiles, Russia was not able to touch a single Patriot system for nearly 14 months. Putin is already on a “bet the state” project, and yet he could not touch a single Patriot unit. Every day those systems stand there, destroying Russian missiles and jets, they are accumulating a massive amount of data.

They are gaining experience and will be the worst enemy of the Kremlin’s armed forces in the future and their imperial desires. They are a huge deterrent for the entire world because we don’t know what these Western leaders will do and when. I hope they do the right thing, but I have more confidence in the data collected by the Patriot systems than I have in our Western leaders.

Europe will soon begin manufacturing Patriot interceptors. Early this year, the NATO Support and Procurement Agency awarded a “$5.5 billion production and delivery contract for the weapons to COMLOG, a joint venture between MBDA Germany and the American company RTX (formerly known as Raytheon Technologies)”.

Under the agreement, if all options are exercised, the four nations will procure a joint quantity of up to 1,000 Patriot Guidance Enhanced Missiles. No delivery timeline was made available.

“The contract strengthens industrial and military capabilities in Europe. The order volume will enable MBDA to set up a production facility for Patriot missiles in Germany as well as major subcomponent production,” Thomas Gottschild, managing director at MBDA Germany, said in a Jan. 3 news release.

Gottschild noted the COMLOG facility is the only one of its kind for Patriot missiles outside the United States, but a NATO statement said COMLOG will expand the production capacity of tactical Patriot Guidance Enhanced Missiles, or GEM-T, in Europe.

There is just one more item pending: expanding the production of Patriot batteries. The current rate of production is one battery per month. We need more, and we need production to be increased in the United States and expanded to Europe.

The Western world needs to saturate its air-defense capacity. We need to reach a point where we can confidently say that anything entering our airspace without permission will be turned to dust.

Of-course, Patriots should not be our end all be all. We need to build layers of systems around the Patriot. It will be our quarterback. Now we need to build a team around it. And we train them to win. We shouldn’t be traning them to play for a draw. Then the odds of victory will always remain in our favor.

As Winston Churchill once said,

The maintenance of peace depends upon the accumulation of deterrents against the aggressor.

A great tactician will know how to win the battle without getting into a fight. That is what we should be aiming for. Freedom has to be armed. Heck, she needs to be armed to the teeth.

Nine sytems in (7 Patriots and 2 SAMP/T).

One more to go.

https://ko-fi.com/shankarnarayan

Thanks for reading. Making critical information on Ukraine accessible is one way to fight misinformation. That’s why I’ve made 190 stories free to the public in 2024, including this one. Feel free to share it with anyone.

--

--

Shankar Narayan

He didn't care what he had or what he had left, he cared only about what he must do.