Number of missiles
Altitude of fire
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
A crane is
used to reload the launchers with the missiles.
(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;
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;
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