TechEuropean NATO countries invest $5.5bn in US missile shield as Russia's threat escalates

European NATO countries invest $5.5bn in US missile shield as Russia's threat escalates

Launching a missile from the Patriot system.
Launching a missile from the Patriot system.
Images source: © Wikimedia Commons | BOHYUN PYUN

8:27 AM EST, January 4, 2024

The NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) signed a framework agreement to deliver up to 1000 Patriot PAC-2 GEM-T missiles to Germany, Romania, the Netherlands, and Spain. The contract was granted to COMLOG, a joint venture between Raytheon and MBDA Deutschland based in Schrobenhausen, Germany. As part of the agreement, a facility for manufacturing Patriot missiles will be set up in Germany. The Dutch Defense Minister, Kajsa Ollongren, stressed on social media, "Europe will independently produce 1000 Patriot anti-aircraft missiles. This evidences that European cooperation leads to tangible successes".

In a statement, NATO mentioned that Europe's new missile production capabilities "boost supply security and contribute to the replenishment of Patriot missile reserves." The demand for missiles has surged due to the ongoing war in Ukraine. States backing Kyiv, including the United States and Germany, have shipped American-made Patriot missiles to Ukraine. These aid the country in its defense against the Russian hypersonic missile Ch-47M2 Kinzhal, claimed by the Russians to be an "elusive weapon".

However, missile deliveries to Kyiv have depleted Western reserves, compelling Washington to seek assistance from allies like Japan to restock - reports The Defense Post. Hence, the agreement could yield significant advantages to all parties involved. It's noteworthy that in addition to the production of Patriot missiles, the contract also includes "the qualification of updated components, the inclusion of new suppliers, testing equipment, and spare parts to support future sustainable development".

The high demand for the potent Patriot system

The Americans developed the Patriot system, a potent, battle-proven weapon. Its primary function is to establish what's known as a "missile shield," i.e., defense against long-range missiles and drone, aircraft, or helicopter attacks. The system comprises launchers, radars, communication stations, power generators, and fire control centers. The system's mobility and ability to engage targets over 62 miles away contribute to its effectiveness. Its capacity to destroy ballistic missiles in the final phase of flight, just before they reach their target, is also notable.

Currently, the Patriot system batteries utilize the following missiles:

  • PAC-2 GEM-T,
  • PAC-3,
  • PAC-3 MSE.

These solutions range from approximately $2 million to over $4 million. In the case of the PAC-2 version, 16 missiles can be loaded onto the launcher at once, and for PAC-3 - four. The first of these variants, PAC-2 GEM-T, is the successor to the original Patriot intercept missiles and PAC-1. This solution has undergone extensive modifications and now includes a software update for combating ballistic missiles and an enhanced warhead.

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