Patriot Missile: US ‘Pauses’ Deliveries Of ‘Hypersonic Killer’ AD System To Allies; May Prioritize Supply To Ukraine

The Financial Times (FT) reported on June 20 that the US has decided to postpone all open orders for Patriot air defense systems and interceptor missiles until Kyiv’s needs are met. The Patriots shot to fame after downing multiple of Russia’s “invincible” Kinzhal hypersonic missiles. 

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As Russian strikes on Ukrainian cities and critical infrastructure escalate, Kyiv has increasingly urged its international partners for enhanced air defenses. 

The American-made Patriot systems have proven highly effective in intercepting Russia’s ballistic and cruise missiles, providing a crucial shield for Ukraine. This explains why the US is considering delaying all pending orders until Kyiv’s requirements are fulfilled. 

The US is anticipated to make an official announcement on the redirection of Patriot air defense orders on June 20. This decision aims to solidify President Joe Biden’s pledge to support Kyiv by ensuring Ukraine receives the defense systems necessary to safeguard its population and infrastructure. 

The decision also follows Biden’s declaration that the US had secured commitments from five countries to provide Patriot batteries and other air defense systems to Kyiv.

During a press briefing after the G7 summit in Italy on June 13, where he signed a 10-year security agreement with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, President Biden stated, “We let it be known to those countries that are expecting from us air defense systems in the future that they’re going to have to wait. Everything we have is going to go to Ukraine until their needs are met. And then we will make good on the commitments we made to other countries.”

Ukraine received its first Patriot battery from the US in early 2023, and since then, this advanced anti-air system has been instrumental in defending Ukrainian airspace. 

Several European countries, including Poland, Romania, and Germany, have open orders for Patriot systems, while Spain has requested Patriot launchers. In January, a coalition of NATO states placed an order for 1,000 Patriot missiles. 

Swiss tabloid Blick, citing undisclosed sources, recently also reported that American missiles intended for Switzerland will also be redirected to Ukraine. However, on June 13, the US denied reports of plans to deliver an additional Patriot battery to Ukraine.

Germany has committed to delivering three of its own Patriot platforms to Ukraine, and senior German officials have voiced frustration at the lack of similar commitments from other countries. Additionally, the Netherlands has offered various components to help assemble another Patriot battery.

Romania To Send Patriot Missile System To Ukraine

On June 20, the Romanian government also pledged to send a full Patriot air defense system to Ukraine. The decision comes with the stipulation that the United States and other allies must provide a temporary replacement to fill the gap in Romania’s air defenses.

The Patriot missile system, developed by US defense contractor Raytheon, is among the most advanced air-defense weapons in the Pentagon’s arsenal. 

It consists of a complex network of radar, launchers, and interceptor systems capable of firing dozens of missiles in a single engagement to defend against planes, missiles, or rockets. Patriot batteries have been instrumental in protecting Ukrainian troops and civilian infrastructure, particularly around Kyiv, in recent months.

“Considering the significant deterioration of the security situation in Ukraine … Council members decided to donate a PATRIOT system to Ukraine,” stated the Romanian president’s office.

The decision hinges on the condition that the US, referred to as the “American strategic partner,” and other allies agree to provide an alternative “temporary solution” to ensure Romania’s air defense remains intact.

Patriot missile system
File Image: Patriot missile system

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy expressed his gratitude, stating, “This crucial contribution will bolster our air shield and help us better protect our people and critical infrastructure from Russian air terror.”

The commitment from Romania follows discussions in May between Romanian President Klaus Iohannis and US President Joe Biden at the White House, where the potential Patriot system donation was a key topic. 

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“I must discuss it in the Supreme Defense Council to see what we can offer and what we can get in return because it is unacceptable to leave Romania without air defenses,” Iohannis had stated.

While several European-made alternatives to the Patriot system exist, including the NASAMS and IRIS-T, the US-developed Patriot systems are widely regarded as the most effective option. 

This is particularly true when it comes to countering Russia’s sophisticated and advanced weaponry. The Patriots’ superior technology and proven track record in intercepting and neutralizing various aerial threats make them the preferred choice for ensuring robust air defense capabilities. 

Contact the author at ashishmichel(at)