Germany's Initiative: Seeking Patriot Systems Worldwide for Ukraine - Locations, Numbers, and Potential Challenges

Patriot anti-missile defense system in on duty in Ukraine, May 2023 / Photo credit: Ukrainian Air Force
Patriot anti-missile defense system in on duty in Ukraine, May 2023 / Photo credit: Ukrainian Air Force

The delivery of Patriot surface-to-air missile systems to Ukraine has become a priority for Germany, but the whole issue is that these systems, even taking the whole world into account, are not so numerous

Germany will seek ways to strengthen Ukraine's air defense with Patriot anti-aircraft missile systems and other systems. This was announced by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Dmytro Kuleba.

“Germany, as the chairman of the Air Defense Coalition, is initiating an immediate analysis of all Patriot batteries and other air defense systems available not only among the allies but also in the world, and what can be done, what combinations can be built to deliver these batteries to Ukraine,” Kuleba said.

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Patriot anti-missile defense system in on duty in Ukraine, Defense Express
Patriot anti-missile defense system in on duty in Ukraine, May 2023 / Photo credit: Ukrainian Air Force

From Defense Express, let's pay attention to what options Germany actually has in searching for Patriot systems. It may start with the United States, where there are 60 Patriot batteries in service. As a reminder, a Patriot battery consists of only one fire unit, which is closest to the concept of an anti-aircraft missile system. So considering the country's territory and the number of foreign bases, for the US military, 60 such SAMs are not redundant for the US military.

If we consider the European segment of NATO, it looks as follows:

  • Germany: approximately 10 Patriot PAC-3 batteries;
  • The Netherlands: less than 3 Patriot PAC-3 batteries;
  • Sweden: in the process of receiving up to 4, currently up to 2 Patriot PAC-3 batteries;
  • Romania: in the process of receiving up to 7, currently up to 4 Patriot PAC-3 batteries;
  • Poland: 2 Patriot batteries, plans for up to 12 PAC-3 batteries;
  • Greece: 6 Patriot PAC-2 batteries;
  • Spain: 3 Patriot PAC-2 batteries.

But considering that the discussion also involved searching for Patriots outside the EU and NATO, the "geography" should be expanded to include Asia:

  • Japan: 24 Patriot PAC-3 batteries;
  • South Korea: 8 Patriot PAC-3 batteries;
  • Taiwan: 7 Patriot PAC-3 batteries.

But it is unlikely that among these countries it will be possible to find a donor for these SAM systems. Moreover, they do not supply weapons to Ukraine directly, and Japan is just beginning to lift its restrictions on arms exports.

Therefore, attention can be directed to the Middle East. However, in this category, data "wander" depending on the source, due to the significantly lower transparency of the countries:

  • Kuwait: 7-8 batteries (possibly 6 more in PAC-2);
  • Qatar: 4-6 Patriot PAC-3 batteries;
  • Saudi Arabia: 18-25 batteries (PAC-2 and PAC-3 together);
  • UAE: 6-9 Patriot PAC-3 batteries, 2 more PAC-2 batteries;
  • Israel: 4 Patriot PAC-2 batteries.

But in this case, Germany may not be a very good representative. For example, despite discussions, Germany has long been blocking the sale of Eurofighter jets to Saudi Arabia, which ordered 48 units as far back as 2018. Also, from the list, Israel can be excluded due to its prohibition on even re-exporting its own weapons to Ukraine.

Thus, the task of obtaining additional Patriot air defense systems certainly won't be easy, but that doesn't mean it can't be resolved.

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