Patriot launchers and missiles for Ukraine | 01

Text Captain Charlotte Swift
Photo The Defense Media Center

Careful considerations between support and own safety

The Netherlands delivers two Patriot missiles and associated missiles to Ukraine. It was just announced after the summit between defense ministers in Ramstein, Germany. The Ministry of Defense also ensures that Ukrainian soldiers can work with the anti-aircraft system. It is not yet clear when exactly people and equipment will be deployed, but it is certain that it will be in the ‘very short term’.

Holland’s ‘donation’ is a careful consideration, emphasizes the head of the Defense Ground-bound Air Defense Command (DGLC), Colonel Jos Kuijpers. “While our country considers it important to contribute, this should not jeopardize its own security.”

A fire unit consists of several launchers (pictured left), a fire control center, radar, and a command and logistics element.

“This package is very nice for our country”

Inventory

The Netherlands has three fire units, each with a radar, fire control center and several launchers. There is equipment for a fourth fire unit which is currently acting as a reserve to keep the other fire units deployable during maintenance.

Kuijpers: “There was speculation about delivering a complete fire unit to Ukraine, but then we would have given away a quarter of the Dutch inventory. Both Germany and the US have many more Patriots, so you have more room to move. I think , the package that is now on the table is very good for our country.”

Colonel Jos Kuijpers, DGLC commander.

Tuning

After Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced on Tuesday that he had the ‘intention’ to send Patriot air defenses to Ukraine, it remained silent for a number of days. But behind the scenes it was all hands on deck, says Kuijpers. “Not only at the political level, but also at the operational level, consultations took place for days. We can give some away, but the US and Germany are already sending Patriot systems that way. Even if they are the same systems as ours, you always have problems with interoperability. You can’t just tie any launch pad to any radar. You have to coordinate that well with each other.”

Patriot can take out helicopters, manned and unmanned aerial vehicles, ballistic missiles and cruise missiles

‘You can’t just connect any launcher to any radar’

education

The exact contribution of the Dutch military to the training of the Ukrainians in the air defense system is still under consideration. As well as how many soldiers are involved and where exactly the training will take place. It is certain that the Ukrainians are waiting for a hard lesson.

“The Patriot is a beautiful but complex system,” says Kuijpers. “Depending on the position, the training with us varies from a month to a year. Now it has to be done in a few months. But now it’s really about operating the device physically. Things like sports and exercise don’t matter for a while. It will be a steep learning curve, but it is definitely possible to achieve good results with less training.”

The focus during the training of Ukrainian soldiers will be on the physical operation of the system. That it will be a steep learning curve is certain.

‘It’s great that we can still contribute in this way’

details

In the coming period, the military at the DGLC in Vredepeel, Limburg, will put the final touches on the ‘i’. So it’s really all about the details; which spare parts we send, what kind of aggregate, which vehicles, etc. Kuijpers: “We are all coordinating that now, but I expect things to move in that direction in the short term.”

It was a hectic week, the commander agrees. But he absolutely understands the request of Ukrainian President Zelensky. “In addition to the range of the system, the Patriot is also extremely well suited to disable ballistic missiles. If you see what is now pouring down almost daily in Ukraine, I understand that you want to put this system in place.”

Concept

Among the soldiers at Vredepeel, too, understanding prevails above all, even if it sometimes secretly feels a bit duplicitous. Kuijpers: “The people here are so proud of their equipment and the system they work on. Then it is best to swallow if you have to give up part of it. But of course they get it. In addition, the United States and the Netherlands have entered into agreements to speed up the replacement process of new parts to be delivered.

We all see the pictures from Ukraine pass by and grit our teeth. You have something to hold it back, but you cannot participate in it. It is great that we can still contribute in this way.”

Patriot air defense system

Patriot is a ground-based medium-range air defense weapon system. The system is designed for air defense up to an altitude of about twenty kilometers and a distance of sixty kilometers. Patriot can take out helicopters, manned and unmanned aerial vehicles, ballistic missiles and cruise missiles. The weapon system is housed at 802 squadron of the Norwegian Armed Forces’ ground-based air defense command in Vredepeel.

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