Number of missiles
Altitude of fire
(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.
MIM-104F missile was introduced. It is also referred as the PAC-3
missile. It is a lot smaller than the previous Patriot missiles.
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
missile has a range of about 40 km and can reach targets at an altitude of
up to 20 km.
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
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
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
anti-ballistic missile system, just as they re-enter the atmosphere.
The final layer of defense is the Patriot PAC-3 missile.
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.