Video Above: How New Ukrainian Air Defenses Might Stop Russian Missile Bombardment
Artillery, helicopters, armored vehicles, ground radar and thousands of small arms and ammunitions are arriving in Ukraine and reportedly making a huge difference in the ongoing war to repel the Russian invasion.
However, while ground radar can help Ukrainians see incoming ballistic missiles and rockets, it does not include the interceptors needed to knock them out of the sky en route to Ukrainian targets. Russian cruise missiles still need to be stopped, as several very recently hit Kyiv despite the Eastern focus of the war.
Artillery reaching 30mm could potentially target Russian launch sites with the right surveillance, targeting and precision, however it appears the Ukrainians may still need more powerful “interceptors” themselves for missile defense. Air Defenses can be helpful, but there are a few key technologies not yet on the list of provided equipment which could give Ukrainians and opportunity to better defend against incoming Russian ballistic missiles and rockets.
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One option is the Patriot interceptor missile, an air defense weapon used with great effect in Iraq over the years. Using a radar and fire control system, the Patriot can track and then fire an interceptor to take out an approaching enemy missile in flight.
When asked if the Patriot could go to Ukraine, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the weapon would not be sent because it requires US soldiers to operate and the US is of course reluctant to put US forces on the ground.
Could US forces train Ukrainians on the Patriot in a nearby NATO country? Seems like an important idea. Kirby said the US is now training Ukrainians on weapons systems in Germany and suggests additional training is on the way. Why not train them on the Patriot? Ukraine does not appear to have sufficient defense against Russian cruise missiles, rockets and ballistic missiles, many of which can travel hundreds of miles.
How about Israel’s Iron Dome, another missile defense interceptor system being built both in the US and Israel? Like the Patriot, this missile could add a new dimension to Ukrainian air defenses, which are still urgently needed to protect civilian areas.
MLRS - Multiple Launch Rocket Systems
How about offensive rockets? They are not on the list and Ukrainian President Zelensky has specifically requested MLRS - Multiple Launch Rocket Systems. These weapons would introduce a new ability to go after Russia’s launchers of cruise and ballistic missiles. Perhaps the US could even give them the GPS-guided precision Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System, a ground fired rocket able to pinpoint targets at ranges out to 80km.
Kris Osborn is the President of Warrior Maven - Center for Military Modernization and the Defense Editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Masters Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.