The United States is reluctant to transfer more Patriot air defense systems to Ukraine, primarily because of the May attack in which Russia employed the hypersonic Kh-47 Kinzhal missile to target and damage a Patriot air defense system.
In his interview with YouTuber Stephen Gardner, former CIA agent Larry Johnson spoke about various topics related to the Russia-Ukraine war, including the United States’ reluctance to transfer Patriot air defense systems to Ukraine.
The uncertainty surrounding whether the United States will proceed with further deliveries of American Patriot air defense systems to Ukraine has generated considerable discussion within the community of experts.
Larry Johnson indicated that this uncertainty stems from the destruction of a US-made patriot battery by the Russian Kinzhal hypersonic missile.
The United States has been a staunch supporter of Ukraine, actively engaged in efforts to enhance Ukraine’s air defense capabilities. However, according to Johnson, the current direction involves providing Kyiv with less powerful and cost-effective weapon systems.
He suggested that this shift is driven by concerns stemming from the successful targeting and damage inflicted upon the Patriot complex by the Russian Dagger missile in May 2023.
“We haven’t heard any news about this [Patriot air defense system] for months. It was sent to Ukraine; it was blown up. It seems that it was either destroyed or is under repair, but it is not involved on the battlefield, “Johnson said.
“We are sending more air defense systems, but we are not sending Patriots,” he pointed out.
In May, a Russian hypersonic missile attack damaged two components of the Patriot air defense system, but according to US officials, it remained operational and never went offline. Later, the United States claimed that the system had been repaired and was back in total operating order.
EurAsian Times could not independently verify Johnson’s claims that the United States is withholding further Patriot system deliveries to Ukraine out of fear that they could be damaged in a Russian attack.
While the Patriot system is exported to numerous countries, the United States and its allies do not possess an extensive surplus of these systems. They are considered valuable assets that must be allocated carefully, considering the threats emerging from various global hotspots.
Meanwhile, Johnson also expressed concerns that the US sent the Abrams tanks to Ukraine, and they may eventually face destruction on the battlefield.
He argued that these American-manufactured tanks were heavy and not tailor-made for operation in the Ukrainian theater. Additionally, Ukrainian forces may not have had sufficient training or experience to utilize these tanks effectively.
Ukraine’s Patriot Systems Struggle Against Russian Aerial Bombs
The Patriot air defense system is the most advanced surface-to-air missile system provided to Kyiv by Western nations, intended to assist Ukraine in defending against relentless missile and drone attacks that have targeted the country’s energy infrastructure.
Distinguished by radar systems boasting approximately three times the range of other Western-supplied air defense systems like NASAMS and the IRIS-T, each Patriot battery includes a truck-mounted launching system equipped with eight launchers capable of holding up to four missile interceptors each, a ground radar, a control station, and a generator.
These systems can safeguard an area extending up to 100 kilometers and target aircraft, cruise missiles, and ballistic missiles.
However, a recent report, citing Oleksiy Melnyk from the Kyiv-based think tank Razumkov Center, suggests that the Patriot air defense system demonstrates limited effectiveness in countering air-dropped bombs.
The report noted that intercepting high-explosive aerial bombs, which the Russian Armed Forces allegedly employ in Ukraine, has posed significant challenges for the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU).
According to the expert, these projectiles, first used 30-50 years ago in the USSR, have been modified by Russia, now featuring GPS modules and gliding propellers, thus enhancing their guidance accuracy.
Unlike long-range missiles, these bombs spend only briefly in the air, slightly over a minute, making their interception more complex.
The Kyiv-based expert argues that leading Western anti-missile systems, like the Patriot missile defense system, were not originally designed to counter such projectiles, rendering them less effective against high-explosive aerial bombs.
Yuriy Ihnat, a representative of the Ukrainian Air Force, has also previously emphasized that “the interception of such shells does not make sense.” The Armed Forces of Ukraine believe that the most rational approach to addressing these bombs is to neutralize enemy aircraft.
Moreover, these bombs also offer a cost-effective solution for Russian military strategists. According to reports, the guidance kit for these bombs comes at less than two million roubles, which is approximately US$24,000. In stark contrast, a single Russian Kalibr cruise missile carries a price tag of nearly US$6.5 million.