Air Defense: Kuwait Prepares For Iranian Visit

August 21, 2010: Kuwait is buying 209 American MIM-104E Patriot Pac 2 anti-aircraft missiles, for $4.4 million each. These are the latest model for the anti-aircraft version of the Patriot missile. There is also a smaller, Pac 3 (MIM-104F) anti-missile missile for the Patriot. Both Pac 2 and Pac 3 models can hit missiles, but Pac 3 is much better at it (and is largely useless against aircraft). In the 1990s, Kuwait bought 5 Patriot batteries (each with a search radar and five launchers, each carrying four missiles). For both models, the missiles come in sealed containers, which are mounted four or 16 per launcher for firing.

The U.S. Army has ten 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 either of the two types of Patriot missile. The $3.3 million PAC 3 missile is smaller than the cheaper 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. Kuwait has some Pac 3 missiles, but is apparently mostly concerned with air attacks.

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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