Neutral country buys dozens of agile ‘hit-to-kill’ US interceptors

WASHINGTONSwitzerland, known for its neutrality in the past, as it is today, because of the war in Ukraine, wanted to invest in American missiles. According to an announcement published on November 15th on the website of the Defense and Security Cooperation Agency [DSCA], Bern is preparing to spend 700 million USD.

Neutral country buys dozens of agile 'hit-to-kill' US interceptors
Photo credit: Lockheed Martin

The missiles that Switzerland requested to Patriot Advanced Capability [PAC] 3 Missile Segment Enhanced [MSE]. The desired quantity is 72 units. DSCA has already notified Congress of the potential sale. In addition to the missiles, if the deal is approved by Congress, the price includes electronic kits, missile ring trainers, PAC-3 anti-missile kits, spare parts, etc. Delivery, integration, and training are also part of the $700 million total announced package.

The PAC-3 MSE missile is used by the Patriot anti-aircraft missile system. Lockheed Martin is the manufacturer of these missiles as well as the primary operator in their upgrade. PAC-3 MSE has increased the range by 50%. The older version PAC-3 was capable to intercept an enemy missile at an altitude of up to 20 km and at a distance of up to 40 km. However, the PAC-3 MSE is intended to intercept long-range ballistic missiles. The missile is capable of exchanging data via ear sensors with the launcher. Lockheed Martin characterizes their missile as a very agile hit-to-kill interceptor.

18th operator

Despite its neutrality in principle, Switzerland is a partner country of the US and Western NATO member states. The new missiles, DSCA says, will help improve the security of “a friendly European nation that continues to be an important force for political stability and economic progress in Europe.” Although such expressions are often used in DSCA press releases, their meaning in the past is not the same as it is today, after Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24th and is now waging a nine-month war.

Patriot destroyed missile using target designation provided by F-35
Photo by US Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Debbie Lockhart

The US states that the sale of these missiles to Switzerland will not affect US defense capabilities and readiness.

The US has approved the sale of at least five air defense systems to Switzerland. This happened in 2020. A year later, Bern agreed to purchase the American Patriot systems. The choice a year ago was between the American Patriot and the Eurosam SAMP/T. The American system received better marks and beat its European candidate. Thus, Switzerland will become the 18th country to acquire and operate Patriot.

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