Air Defense: Poland Finds Another Way To Annoy Russia

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July 14, 2017: In July 2017 the United States agreed to provide Poland with the most capable version of the Patriot anti-missile missile. This follows Poland agreeing to buy a less capable version of Patriot in 2015. At that time the U.S. would not provide Poland with the most effective anti-missile missiles for Patriot in order to appease Russia. Poland is to receive eight batteries of the American Patriot anti-aircraft missile system with the first battery arriving in 2019 and the last one by 2023 and these will be able to use the latest anti-missile capabilities.

Each Patriot battery is manned by about a hundred troops who operate and maintain a radar/fire control system and four launchers. A battery can fire two types of Patriot missile. The more expensive (about $4 million each) 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 160 kilometers for the PAC 2 anti-aircraft version used against low flying UAVs. The latest version of PAC-3 has a range of 35 kilometers. Using its anti-aircraft missiles one Patriot battery can cover more than 200 kilometers of land and coastal borders. Patriot can also take down cruise missiles as well, giving Poland some protection against just about everything the Russians have to throw at them.

The selection process has been going on for nearly a decade, with systems from France, Israel and the United States being the leading contenders. It is believed that Patriot won because it has the most impressive combat record and when the U.S. recently sent Patriot batteries to help defend Poland the visit included letting Polish officers and troops watch the operation of the Patriot up close.

 

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