AFP, Wednesday 17 May 2023
A high-tech Patriot air defense system provided to Ukraine suffered damage but is still working, a US defense official said Wednesday.
File Photo: Patriot missiles are seen at the Rzeszow-Jasionka Airport, March 25, 2022, in Jasionka, Poland. AP
“The Patriot system remains operational” and the damage — caused by an unspecified projectile landing near it — is still being assessed, the official told AFP.
Ukrainian air force spokesman Yury Ignat earlier said that “all is fine with the Patriot,” but declined to specify if the sophisticated system had been damaged.
“The Patriot is in service,” Ignat told AFP. “All is well.”
Kyiv received the first shipments of the American-made Patriot surface-to-air missile system in April, with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg saying that both Germany and the US had delivered batteries to Ukraine.
The Russian defense ministry said Tuesday that its forces had struck a Patriot system in Kyiv with a Kinzhal hypersonic missile.
Kyiv announced Ukraine’s air defense shot down six of Russia’s hypersonic missiles, but Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu rejected that claim.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who unveiled the Kinzhal in 2018, has termed it “an ideal weapon” that is extremely difficult to intercept.
Ukraine repeatedly pushed for the high-tech system to help shield itself against relentless Russian strikes targeting civilians and infrastructure.
Made by Raytheon, the MIM-104 Patriot is a surface-to-air missile system initially developed to intercept high-flying aircraft.
It was modified in the 1980s to focus on the new threat of tactical ballistic missiles and was used in combat against Iraq’s Russian-made Scuds in the first Gulf War.