A US-made Patriot missile defense system deployed by Ukraine is believed to have suffered ‘damage’ from a Russian hypersonic strike, reported CNN, citing sources familiar with the matter. However, the system does not appear to have been completely destroyed.
The Patriot system is a vital component among an impressive lineup of sophisticated air defense units generously supplied by Western nations to aid Ukraine in thwarting a relentless wave of Russian missile strikes.
Speaking anonymously and referring to preliminary information, a US official said that both Washington and Kyiv are currently discussing the optimal way to restore the damaged Patriot system.
Reuters reported that there seems to be no immediate indication that the system will need to be removed from Ukraine, suggesting efforts will be made to restore its operational capability within the country.
The official emphasized that the situation remains fluid. As more information becomes available in the coming days, the United States will better understand the extent of the damage inflicted upon the system.
The Russian embassy in the US was quick to take a gid and tweeted: @mod_russiaU.S.-manufactured Patriot surface-to-air missile system has been struck by Kinzhal hypersonic glide missile in Kiev. Doubters gonna doubt, doubt, doubt…
⚡️@mod_russia: U.S.-manufactured Patriot surface-to-air missile system has been struck by Kinzhal hypersonic glide missile in Kiev.
?Doubters gonna doubt, doubt, doubt…
— Russian Embassy in USA ?? (@RusEmbUSA) May 16, 2023
As of now, Ukraine possesses two Patriot air defense systems within its borders, with one donated by the United States and the other jointly donated by Germany and the Netherlands.
While it is uncertain which of these systems may have been affected by the recent strike, any interruption in their operational capacity – even temporary – could have detrimental consequences for Ukraine’s ability to protect Kyiv from the growing number of missile attacks orchestrated by Russia.
In an article for EurAsian Times, Vijainder K Thakur observed that judging from the ground explosions, the recent attack by the Russian Air Force was likely targeted at the Patriot battery.
However, there is also a possibility that the attack was aimed at key locations in Kyiv, which the Patriot battery was assigned to defend, such as underground facilities and command and control centers.
MiG-31K Destroyed The American Patriot?
Regarded as one of the most advanced air defense systems, the Patriot system boasts capabilities to effectively counter a wide range of threats, including aircraft, cruise missiles, and ballistic missiles.
This sophisticated system typically consists of launchers, radar equipment, and accompanying support vehicles, working in tandem to provide comprehensive defense coverage.
The Patriot has a strong radar to detect incoming objects from a distance. However, the radar emission required to identify threats from a distance also enables the adversary to identify the Patriot battery and determine its location.
While Western media outlets are reporting that Kyiv’s Patriot air defense system was only damaged and not completely destroyed, Russian media, citing unnamed sources, asserts that the MiG-31K aircraft carrying Kh-47 Kinzhal (NATO reporting name ‘Dagger’) successfully destroyed the American Patriot system through an aerial ambush.
According to an unnamed source cited by the Russian state-backed Ria Novosti media outlet, the speed of the Dagger missile caught the US air defense systems off guard, resulting in an unexpected air ambush. The source claimed that the enemy’s combat crew could not defend their anti-aircraft systems against the attack.
The report explained that the Kinzhal missiles’ speed characteristics enable them to reach military installations on Ukrainian soil in a matter of minutes, which prevents targets like the Patriot air defense system from changing positions after being fired or loading fresh missiles into launchers.
On May 16, Ukrainian officials announced that they had successfully intercepted all six hypersonic missiles launched by the Russians.
However, when asked about the Russian claim that a Patriot system had been struck, the Ukrainian military didn’t comment. Yuriy Ihnat, the Ukrainian Air Force spokesperson, said they would refrain from commenting on Russian sources.
Sergei Shoigu, the Russian minister of defense, asserted that the Kyiv authorities’ claims that its air defense system shot down six Russian Kinzhal missiles are untrue.
The Russian Dagger aeroballistic missile can reach speeds exceeding ten times the speed of sound while maneuvering in all sections of the flight path, allowing it to bypass all existing air defense systems and strike targets deep behind enemy lines.
Shoigu added that Russia did not launch as many Daggers as the Ukrainian military claimed to have shot down in their statements. The head of the Russian defense ministry stated that the Ukrainian military consistently erred in identifying the correct type of missiles, which is why they missed their targets.