It is a long-term investment. The United States will train Ukrainian forces at a military base in the southern state of Oklahoma in the operation and maintenance of the Patriot air defense system, which Washington will supply to Kiev, the Pentagon announced on Tuesday.
The US leader late last year unveiled a new aid package for Ukraine, including a Patriot surface-to-air missile system, long requested by Kiev, to counter attacks from Russia.
“Training of Ukrainian forces in the use of the Patriot air defense system will begin next week at Fort Sill, Oklahoma,” Pentagon spokesman General Pat Ryder told reporters.
Hundreds of soldiers trained
“This training will prepare between 90 and 100 Ukrainian soldiers to operate, maintain and maintain the defense system through training expected to last several months,” he added. “Once on the ground, the Patriot (…) will contribute to Ukrainian air defense and give the Ukrainian people an additional means of defending themselves against the current Russian airstrikes. »
Air defense systems have played a crucial role in protecting Ukraine from attacks by Moscow and preventing Russian forces from taking control of its airspace.
As Russia suffered major setbacks on the ground, it opted for a tactic of massive bombing of Ukrainian infrastructure, depriving millions of people of electricity, water and heat in the middle of winter.
Effective against Scuds
Manufactured by Raytheon, the MIM-104 Patriot is a medium-range surface-to-air missile system originally developed to intercept high-flying aircraft.
It was modified in the 1980s to adapt to the emerging threat of tactical ballistic missiles. Patriots proved their effectiveness in the first Iraq War (1990-91) against Russian-made Scuds.
Ukraine’s allies’ strategy is based on creating what the military calls a multi-layered surface-to-air defense that covers both short-range low-altitude strikes, medium-range medium-altitude strikes, and long-range and high-altitude strikes.