Although the Patriot surface-to-air missile systems provided to Ukraine can intercept Russian S-300 missiles, a high-ranking Ukrainian official believes that doing so would not be practical and recommends targeting the anti-aircraft systems on the ground instead.
Yuriy Ihnat, Spokesperson for the Air Force Command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, confirmed that a unit of the Patriot anti-aircraft missile system had been successfully deployed to Ukraine, with the remaining divisions expected to arrive soon.
During the joint national newscast that runs 24/7, the Air Force of Ukraine’s spokesperson made an on-air announcement about the deployment of the Patriot anti-aircraft missile system to Ukraine.
One of the divisions has already been deployed and began operations a few days ago, Ihnat said. The remaining divisions are currently on their way to their designated locations. The spokesperson hoped the deployment would yield positive results, especially in countering the Russian aircraft.
When asked about the Patriot system’s capability to intercept the S-300 missiles that targeted Kharkiv on April 22, Ihnat confirmed that the Patriot system could shoot down these missiles. However, he also noted that the Russian military possesses many S-300 missiles.
Ihnat explained that the challenge with shooting down S-300 missiles using Patriots is not the cost but the sheer number of missiles the Russian military possesses. A few months ago, 6,000 to 7,000 S-300 missiles were reportedly in their arsenal.
Ihnat suggested that destroying these missiles on the ground would be more practical. He stressed the need to carefully assess the number of Patriot missiles available and compare it to the number of S-300 missiles in the Russian military’s possession.
Vijainder K Thakur, a defense expert who has been closely monitoring the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, emphasized, “Considering its relatively small warhead & limited accuracy, attempting to shoot down an S-300 missile with a Patriot missile makes no sense. S-300 missiles are never used to attack strategically important targets!”
Russia Could Use S-300 Missile To Overwhelm Ukrainian Defense Systems
The Patriot system would allow Ukraine to intercept and destroy incoming missiles and protect against enemy aircraft. However, Ukrainian military officials have expressed concerns about the potential strategy that Russia might use to launch S-300 missiles at Ukraine.
Ihnat voiced apprehension that the Russian military may use the S-300 missiles similarly to their deployment of Shahed drones, aiming to overwhelm and deplete Ukraine’s air defense systems through successive launches.
Ihnat pointed out that the Russian military employs Iranian-made Shahed drones to locate Ukrainian air defense systems and target them to weaken their defenses.
He highlighted the cost of resources spent on countering these attacks, characterizing the conflict as a war of attrition, where both sides aim to deplete each other’s resources.
Additionally, Ihnat noted that Ukraine has successfully destroyed enemy equipment units and cruise missiles.
In addition to its practical defensive capabilities, the Patriot missile defense system holds a symbolic value for Kyiv. The acquisition of such advanced military technology would signal that the United States remains committed to supporting Ukraine and its efforts to resist Russian aggression.
The Patriot missile defense system has a range of up to 600 miles and can effectively intercept and destroy long-range ballistic missiles and aircraft from a significant distance away.
The highly effective system can identify and eliminate threats from hundreds of miles away. In addition, the Patriot system boasts powerful radar capabilities superior to other air defense systems, allowing for easier differentiation between friendly and hostile targets.
Some have questioned the effectiveness of Patriot missiles, with a 2018 Foreign Policy headline claiming that they “fail everywhere.” However, this assertion has been dismissed by officials in the US military as an exaggeration.
There have been occasions when the Patriot system’s effectiveness has been misrepresented to the general public. For example, during the Gulf War, military officials claimed that the system had successfully intercepted all but two Iraqi Scud missiles.
However, the Pentagon later revised this number to a 50 percent success rate. Though the system’s efficacy rate is believed to be higher today, it isn’t easy to obtain accurate figures.
Despite any criticism or concerns about its effectiveness, the Patriot system still significantly enhances Ukraine’s defense capabilities. It serves as a demonstration of support from Western countries against Russia.