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Patriot PAC-3

Anti-ballistic missile system

Patriot PAC-3

The PAC-3 upgrade is dedicated almost entirely to the anti-ballistic missile mission

 
 
Entered service ?
Range 40 km
Number of missiles 16
Missile length 5.21 m
Missile diameter ?
Missile weight 312 kg
Warhead weight ?
Warhead type HE-FRAG
Altitude of fire 20 km

 

   The PAC-3 (Patriot Advanced Capability) is another upgrade of the Patriot air defense missile system. The previous PAC-2 was used during the Persian Gulf War to counter Iraqi Scud missiles. The PAC-2 was regarded as a successful anti-ballistic missile system. However its capabilities were not enough to intercept more advanced ballistic missiles. So the PAC-3 upgrade was developed by Raytheon with further improved capabilities against ballistic missiles. As a result nearly every aspect of the system was upgraded. The Patriot PAC-3 launchers are used by the US Army alongside the PAC-2 long-range air defense missile launchers. The PAC-3 anti-ballistic missile system has been exported to Germany, Japan, Kuwait, Netherlands and Taiwan.

   A new MIM-104F missile was introduced. It is also referred as the PAC-3 missile. It is a lot smaller than the previous Patriot missiles. Also the MIM-104F missile is more maneuverable. It destroys targets by ramming them. Yet still the missile has a small HE-FRAG warhead to enhance the kill probability. The MIM-104F missile has a range of about 40 km and can reach targets at an altitude of up to 20 km.

   Missiles are stored and launched from reinforced aluminum canisters at a fixed angle. Due to a smaller size four MIM-104M missiles are carried in a single container. So a single PAC-3 launcher has 16 missiles instead of 4. Launchers are mounted on a two-axle trailers or based on 8x8 high mobility chassis. The launcher unit is self-contained unit and has its own powerplant and fuel. During operation the launchers, as well as the radar unit are unmanned. It takes 30 minutes to prepare the Patriot system for firing. A battery of launchers and associated support vehicles can change position up to several times a day.

   The radar of the PAC-3 has increased detection and tracking ranges. It also has improved discrimination abilities. The radar can discriminate whether or not the aircraft is manned, or which of multiple re-entering ballistic objects are carrying ordnance. Also the software of the PAC-3 ensures that ballistic missiles with chemical warheads or with early release submunitions are destroyed at a certain altitude.

   The Patriot PAC-3 is a part of three-layer missile defense network. The first line of defense comes from AEGIS missiles, designed to knock-out ballistic missiles in space. If that fails, ballistic missiles are intercepted by THAAD anti-ballistic missile system, just as they re-enter the atmosphere. The final layer of defense is the Patriot PAC-3 missile.

   The PAC-3 system can defend against ballistic missiles of all types, however it is less effective against aircraft and air-to surface missiles. This is why it is deployed alongside the Patriot PAC-2 launchers with long-range missiles.

   A Patriot battery or fire unit is a basic operating element. Normally it includes a command post, radar, 8 launchers and support vehicles. 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.

 

 
Patriot PAC-3

Patriot PAC-3

Patriot PAC-3

Patriot PAC-3

Patriot PAC-3

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