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Patriot

Long-range air defense missile system

Patriot

The Patriot was first used in combat during the Persian Gulf War

 
 
Entered service 1982
Range 100 km
Number of missiles 4
Missile length 5.31 m
Missile diameter 0.87 m
Missile weight 912 kg
Warhead weight 91 kg
Warhead type HE-FRAG
Altitude of fire 25 km

 

   The Patriot is a long-range air defense missile system. Its development commenced in the 1963. It was intended to replace the previous Nike Hercules and Hawk air defense missile systems. Raytheon was the main contractor of the system, while the missile was developed by Martin-Marietta. First tests of this air defense system took place in 1969-1970. The Patriot entered service with the US Army in 1982. Currently the US Army uses over 1 100 Patriot launchers of all variants. This air defense system has been exported to a number of US allies. Currently the Patriot and its upgraded variants are in service with 14 countries. The Patriot was first used in combat during the Persian Gulf War where it recommended itself well.

   Initial version of the Patriot used the MIM-104A missile, also known as the Standard. It had a range of about 100 km. The missile was fitted with fragmentation warhead that detonated on direct impact or was set off by proximity fuse. The first version of the Patriot was used exclusively as anti-aircraft weapon. It had no capabilities against ballistic missiles. This capability was introduced in the late 1980s when Patriot received its first major system overhaul.

   This air defense system has four missiles per launcher. Missiles are stored and launched from reinforced aluminum canisters at a fixed angle. Launchers are mounted on a two-axle trailers or based on 8x8 high mobility chassis. It is a self-contained unit, that has its own powerplant and fuel. The towed launchers are towed by Oshkosh M983 8x8 tractor truck, or other tractor trucks. The mobile version is based on the MAN KAT 1 8x8 high mobility vehicle. It takes 30 minutes to prepare the system for firing. A battery of launchers and associated support vehicles can change position up to several times a day.

   A Patriot battery or fire unit is a basic operating element. Normally it includes a command post, radar, 8 launchers and support vehicles. The battery can engage up to 8 targets simultaneously. If required the battery can operate with up to 16 launchers. Launchers can be located up to 1 km from radar or command post vehicle. In order to establish effective and overlapping defenses batteries are located 30-40 km between each other.

   The radar detects fighters at a range of 110-130 km, bombers at a range of 160-190 km, missiles at a range of 85-100 km, warhead of the missile at a range of 60-70 km. The Patriot can also receive firing data from the higher level command posts or airborne early warning aircraft, such as E-3 Sentry. During operation the radar unit, as well as the launchers are unmanned. The only manned element is the battery command post vehicle.

   Normally firing orders are issued by a battalion command post. It is worth noting that a battery command post can give firing orders in case of a self-defense or when communication with the higher level command is suppressed by electronic countermeasures, or is absent due to combat damage.

   A crane is used to reload the launchers with the missiles.

 

Variants

 

   PAC-1 (Patriot Advanced Capability) upgrade. It was a software only upgrade, that commenced in 1983. However it changed the way the radar searched the sky in order to counter the threat posed by ballistic missiles. It also changed the way how the Patriot was defending area against enemy attacks. A new MIM-104B missile was introduced. It was called by the US Army as the anti stand-off jammer. It works in a similar manner as anti-radiation missiles. Once launched in an area designated by the operator it locates and destroys the most significant emitter of electronic countermeasures. It helped the Patriot to engage and destroy electronic warfare aircraft at standoff ranges;

   PAC-2 another upgrade of the Patriot. This upgrade was developed in the late 1980s. It introduced the first major missile upgrade. It fires MIM-104C and MIM-104D missiles with a range of about 160 km. Upgraded air defense systems are more effective against ballistic missiles. The PAC-2 was first tested in 1987. It reached the US Army units in 1990. During the Persian Gulf War, it was deployed to the middle east. During that war the Patriot was regarded as a successful anti-ballistic missile system. Several batteries of the Patriot were deployed in Saudi Arabia and Israel. These were used to protect cities and strategic targets against Iraqi ballistic missiles. Upgrades of the PAC-2 air defense systems continues to this day;

   PAC-3 yet another upgrade of the Patriot. The PAC-3 has a further improved capabilities against ballistic missiles. Nearly every aspect of the system was upgraded. A new MIM-104F missile was introduced. It is a lot smaller than older Patriot missiles. Four missiles are carried in a single container. So a single launcher has 16 missiles instead of 4. The missile has a range of about 40 km and altitude of 20 km. The radar has increased detection and tracking ranges.

 

Video of the Patriot air defense missile system

 

 
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