TechRomania weighs sending advanced patriot missile system to Ukraine

Romania weighs sending advanced patriot missile system to Ukraine

Romanian Patriot system launchers against the backdrop of an older MIM-23 Hawk set.
Romanian Patriot system launchers against the backdrop of an older MIM-23 Hawk set.
Images source: © Licensor | GEORGE CALIN

6:04 AM EDT, June 3, 2024

Ukraine is currently facing enormous difficulties in countering Russian ballistic missiles. The missiles for post-Soviet systems have long been depleted, and the number of Western systems capable of countering such targets is far from sufficient. Romania is considering providing Ukraine with an additional Patriot system battery.

In an interview with Euronews, Romanian Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu noted that classified discussions are being held with specialists, including those from the Ministry of Defense, Foreign Affairs, and NATO partners. After considering Romania's defense needs, a decision will be made, which must remain unaffected.

This is a challenging topic for Romania, as only one operational Patriot battery was delivered in 2020 under a 2017 contract that included seven batteries delivered over ten years. However, it is worth noting that in 2023, Romania received a second battery, although it will take some time before it becomes operational.

These are PAC-3+ standard batteries, the most modern currently available, also acquired by Poland. They offer significantly better interception capabilities than the older generation Patriot systems that Germany and the USA provided to Ukraine.

Romanian Patriot system batteries - some of the newest in the world

Romanian Patriot system batteries, similar to those acquired by Poland, use very expensive and specialized anti-ballistic missile PAC-3 MSE interceptors and are integrated with the IBCS (Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System).

This integration makes the Patriot system batteries and other systems, such as the short-range Narew or NASAMS, interconnected in a network, allowing for much more effective target destruction, reduced vulnerability to the destruction of specific battery elements, and better situational awareness.

For example, within the anti-aircraft system operating within the IBCS system, a Patriot can fire based on radar data from another battery, significantly mitigating the shortcomings of the AN/MPQ-65 sector radar with a detection angle of 120 degrees. Moreover, suppose the command vehicle or radar of a battery is destroyed. In that case, it does not mean the "silencing" of all the battery's launchers, as these can be connected on the fly to another battery.

The PAC-3 MSE missiles are the most modern interceptors for the Patriot, with the first test in 2008 and serial production starting only in 2018. Their unique feature is the destruction of the target with a precisely guided kinetic warhead rather than a fragmentation warhead, as is usually the case.

This guarantees a higher chance of destroying a target that might survive a fragmenting warhead explosion. However, the need for surgical precision guidance in the final phase of flight makes these missiles extremely expensive, reaching up to $5-7 million per unit.

Their effective range is estimated at around 25 miles from the launcher for ballistic targets and around 75 miles for military aircraft. All this makes the likelihood of Romania delivering such a Patriot system battery to Ukraine rather small. It is quite possible that the US, which generally does not provide Ukraine with its latest equipment except for a few exceptions like the GLSDB, will block the plans for its transfer.

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