“Unfortunately, Russia still has the advantage in artillery and missiles,” he said. He requested additional artillery, as well as modern tanks — equipment that Ukraine has repeatedly asked for, along with fighter jets and longer-range missiles.
The decision to send the Patriot system would be a powerful sign of the United States’ deepening military commitment to Ukraine. The Pentagon’s active-duty Patriot units frequently deploy for missions around the world, and experts say the United States does not have the kind of deep stockpiles of Patriot missiles available for transfer that it did with munitions like artillery shells and rockets.
Capable of being configured in a number of ways, a Patriot battery typically consists of one or more launchers, radars and vehicles for command and control of air defense operations.
The system uses three different models of missiles, according to experts at the Missile Defense Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank.
One, called the PAC-3 Cost Reduction Initiative, or CRI, can strike enemy warplanes, helicopter and cruise missiles at a range of about 40 miles and ballistic missile targets at a range of 22 miles. The second, called PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement, or MSE, can hit the same kinds of targets at ranges of 75 miles and 44 miles, respectively, the Missile Defense Project analysts said. The third, called Guidance Enhanced Missile-Tactical, or GEM-T, can destroy enemy aircraft about 99 miles away.
It is unclear which model or models of missiles the United States intends to send to Ukraine.
The Pentagon previously provided Ukraine with two shorter-range air defense weapons called National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System, or NASAMS, which arrived in November. The Pentagon is spending $1.2 billion for six more NASAMS to be built and delivered to Kyiv in the coming years. But NASAMS can strike targets only about a third as far as the Patriot system.
The U.S. military has deployed Patriot batteries in numerous conflicts since the early 1990s. In perhaps the weapons’ most recent combat use, U.S. Army soldiers at Al Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates fired “multiple” Patriot interceptors at missiles headed toward the base in January, according to U.S. Central Command.