The US is currently not planning to transfer Patriot anti-aircraft missile systems, which are capable of destroying aerodynamic and ballistic targets at a distance of 160 km and 50 km respectively, to Ukraine, according to a recent statement from the Pentagon. Press secretary Pat Ryder spoke about the potential delivery in a briefing on November 29:
“We discuss a wide variety of capabilities and support with Ukraine. We regularly consult with Ukraine. We regularly consult with our allies and our partners on what their defense needs are. Air defense continues to be a top priority for DoD and for the international community when it comes to supporting Ukraine. In terms of any type of Patriot battery from the U.S. Right now, we have no plans to provide Patriot batteries to Ukraine. But again, we'll continue to have those discussions. And when and if there's something to announce on that front, we will.”
Ryder explained this by the fact that highly qualified personnel are required to to use the system: “None of these systems are plug-and-play. You can't just show up on the battlefield and start using them,” he added. M1 tanks and advanced fighter aircraft were mentioned in the same vein – modern weaponry comes with a “pretty significant maintenance and sustainment tail,” according to Ryder.
The issue of transferring the Patriot systems to Ukraine has been a topic of active discussion in recent weeks, the BBC notes. Talks intensified after the November incident in Poland, when missiles fell in the village of Przewodowy, 6 kilometers from the border with Ukraine. CNN had recently reported, citing sources with knowledge of the matter, that the US is still considering sending the missiles to Ukraine, as the country’s air defense is now a “top priority.”
The Insider earlier reported that one of the main issues with Patriot systems is that it is an expensive, technologically complex and sensitive system – especially in regard to its operating and maintenance conditions. One Patriot battery costs an estimated $1 billion and requires 70 skilled personnel to be operational.