Air Defense: Must Have Anti-Missile Missiles

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July 17, 2008: Kuwait is spending $156 million to upgrade its Patriot anti-aircraft missile systems so that they can use the PAC-3 anti-missile missile version of the Patriot system. The older Patriot PAC 2 missiles are used against aircraft (as far away as 70 kilometers). But the Patriot launchers also fire the smaller (in diameter) PAC 3 anti-missile missiles. 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, of about 20 kilometers.

Each Patriot battalion has 12-24 launchers (3-6 batteries). The PAC 3 was used for the first time during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The Iraqis fired eleven long range missiles at American targets (usually headquarters) and PAC 3 missiles took down eight of them.

The Kuwaitis want some protection from Iranian ballistic missiles. Several other nations using Patriot are also upgrading to PAC 3. The manufacturer, Raytheon, expects billions of dollars in additional sales because so many nations want protection from Iranian, North Korean or Chinese ballistic missiles.

 

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