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Patriot PAC-2

Long-range air defense and anti-ballistic missile system

Patriot PAC-2

The Patriot PAC-2 has improved capabilities against ballistic missiles

Entered service 1990
Range 160 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 PAC-2 (Patriot Advanced Capability) upgrade was developed in the late 1980s. At that time tests began to indicate, that previous version, the PAC-1, was not effective against ballistic missiles. Even though it could certainly intercept them, it was not capable of destroying ballistic missiles reliably. So a PAC-2 missile and system upgrade was introduced.

   The PAC-2 was first tested in 1987. It reached the US Army units in 1990. Later, during the Persian Gulf War, it was deployed to the middle east. During the Gulf War the Patriot was first used in combat and 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. Iraq launched a total of 83 ballistic missiles. Patriot missiles destroyed 45 of these ballistic missiles. A total of 150 Patriot missiles were launched against them.

   The Patriot PAC-2 is in service with the US armed forces. It has been exported to Israel, Japan, Netherlands and South Korea.

   The PAC-2 introduced the first major missile upgrade. The MIM-104C missile was introduced. It is also referred as the PAC-2 missile. This missile is optimized for high-speed ballistic missile engagements. It has much larger projectiles in the blast-fragmentation warhead and different timing of the fuse. Engagements procedures for the missile were also optimized, changing the method of fire, when it was used to engage ballistic missiles. The previous PAC-1 launched two missiles in almost simultaneous salvo. The PAC-2 launched missiles with a delay of 3-4 seconds. Such method of fire was more effective against ballistic missiles. However the PAC-2 missiles retain old algorithms for aircraft engagements. If necessary these can be launched against aircraft. Radar and search algorithms were further optimized, comparing with the PAC-1.

   The PAC-2 missile has a range of about 160 km. 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 trailers or based on 8x8 high mobility chassis. Launchers are self-contained units, fitted with their own powerplants and fuel. During operation this units are unmanned. 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.

   Since its introduction in the 1990 there were many upgrades of the Patriot PAC-2. The MIM-104D missile has been introduced. It has improved guidance and more efficient fused warhead. This missile was used extensively in 2003 during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

   Later a missile optimized to deal with cruise missiles was introduced. It had a new nose section. Upgrades of the PAC-2 still continue.

   Later the PAC-3 upgrade was introduced. This system has a further improved capabilities against ballistic missiles. The MIM-104F or PAC-3 missile 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.

   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.

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


Video of the Patriot PAC-2 air defense missile system


Patriot PAC-2

Patriot PAC-2

Patriot PAC-2

Patriot PAC-2

Patriot PAC-2

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