Air Defense: Patriots For Poland


August 28, 2008:As part of the recent agreement to allow U.S. GBI anti-missile missiles to be based in Poland, is the stationing of an American Patriot anti-aircraft missile battery in Poland. Originally, Poland wanted to receive Patriot missile systems, with Polish crews running them. Sending an American battery instead was a compromise. That unit will arrive within the next four years.

The U.S. Army has ten of its Patriot anti-aircraft missile battalions. Each Patriot battalion has 12-24 launchers (3-6 batteries). Each battery is manned by about a hundred troops, and contains a radar, plus four launchers. A battery can fire two types of Patriot missile. The $3.3 million PAC 3 missile is smaller than the anti-aircraft version (PAC 2), thus a Patriot launcher can hold sixteen PAC 3 missiles, versus four PAC 2s.A PAC 2 missile weighs about a ton, a PAC 3 weighs about a third of that. The PAC 3 has a shorter range (about 20 kilometers) versus 70 kilometers for the anti-aircraft version.

While each Patriot launcher, loaded with PAC 3 missiles, can only defend against ballistic missiles approaching within 20 kilometers, the Patriot radar can detect targets out to a hundred kilometers. Two PAC 3 missiles are fired at each incoming ballistic missile, to increase the probability of a hit. The PAC 3 missile has its own radar, and uses it to track the incoming warhead, and execute a collision course.

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