Patriot in Ukraine: First dream target is Su-35, soldiers say

The first crews trained to operate the American Patriot air defense system have already begun combat duty. The two systems [from the USA and Germany/Netherlands] arrived in mid-April in Ukraine. The soldiers dream that the first downed target to be the Russian Su-35 Flanker-E fighter.

This is what the soldiers say in the video released by the Ministry of Defense through its official Twitter account. Just four months after the donations were announced, the long-range MIM-104 Patriot air defense system is now operational in Ukraine. “The Ukrainian air defense forces now have new and powerful tools to clear our sky of Russian scrap metal,” the announcement of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine says on Twitter.

The Patriot system has a longer range than, for example, Nasams and Iris-T, and can counter tactical ballistic missiles. Thus, the combination of the two is ideal, where the different weapons complement each other and together provide a robust, multi-layered air defense.

Ukrainian military master the Patriot air-defense system in Germany
Photo credit: German MoD

In the video, some of the gunners are asked what their first dream target is. The answer is the Sukhoi Su-35, which drops guided bombs. At the same time, it is stated that they will now be able to defend themselves against missiles of the Kh-22 type and other ballistic missiles that descend from a great height and at a high speed.

Since January, Ukrainian soldiers have been training at the Fort Sill US Army base in Oklahoma. Both the Ukrainian and American sides say that this process went much faster than expected.

New missile attack

Russia launched another missile attack early on Friday, April 28. According to Ukraine, 23 Kh-555/Kh-101 cruise missiles were fired from Tu-95 strategic bombers. Ukraine claimed 21 of the missiles were shot down, as well as two attack drones, but there were still reports of several deaths.

In Dnipro, in the southern part of the country, a young woman and a three-year-old child were killed, wrote the mayor of the city Boris Filatov in Telegram. He did not provide further details about the attack or any other injuries.

Earlier this month, a Russian missile hit a residential building in the city of Uman. According to a statement by Ukrainian President Mr. Volodymyr Zelensky, 23 people died in the attack, including four children. There are also many injured and rescue operations around the destroyed building are ongoing.

Patriot is a target

Even when Washington announced last December that it was allowing the re-export of the Patriot to Ukraine, Russia said it was already a target for Russia.

Howard Altman and Tyler Rogoway also mention that Russia will try to hit the Ukrainian Patriots. They say that one of the drawbacks of the system is its static nature. For its deployment, according to the two authors, Ukraine will commit 50-60 soldiers, citing David Shank, a retired US Army colonel and former artillery commander. And that’s just for one battery, that is. up to 120 soldiers will participate in the deployment of the two delivered Patriot batteries.

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

At the same time, Shank says that half of those soldiers will be involved in the operation and maintenance of a battery. Altman and Rogoway recall that the Patriot’s powerful radar is as much good news as it is bad news. Because yes, the radar will be able to pick up enemy air targets at long ranges, but at the same time it emits strong emissions. The authors of the analysis say that the Russian Il-20 Coot spy plane can detect and geolocate the Patriot.

Shank recalls that deploying a single Patriot battery takes up nearly a square kilometer of “land space.” “Destroy the Patriot’s radar and the system becomes useless,” Shank says.

Will it be the Su-35?

In fact, the desire of the Ukrainian soldiers for their first downed target to be the Su-35 is no accident. It is assumed that this particular aircraft will be engaged in such a task. recalls that Russia has changed tactics and the Su-35 [or Su-30] is now flying in pairs with the MiG-31.

According to people in the know [but not confirmed information], the Ukrainians will deploy the Patriot around Kyiv. This means that if the Russian Aerospace Forces use the Su-35, it will not come from the Eastern Front or from Russia, but from Belarus.

Iran buys 24 Sukhoi Su-35 Flanker-E fighters produced for Egypt
Photo credit: UAC

One way to engage the Su-35 in destroying the Patriot is to equip it with the Kh-31P anti-radiation missile. It is long-range [extended range 160 miles/257 km], equipped with “modular, interchangeable passive radar homing systems, one of which is designed to specifically target the Patriot system.”

But of course, Russia can attack the Patriot with another weapon. Russian satellites can detect the large footprint left by the Patriot battery. This would allow Moscow to use cruise and ballistic missiles as well as kamikaze drones.

In any case, the Patriot became a target for the Russian army. However, whether we will see the Patriot systems tested across a wide range of threats remains to be seen.


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