Blast and debris after activation of Patriot’s interceptor in Israel

Although the war in Ukraine has been going on for more than a year and a half, we have not seen a clear picture of the action of the American MIM-104 Patriot air defense system. The reason is that Russian missile attacks on Kyiv are mostly late at night or early in the morning.

THAAD successfully fired Patriot's PAC-3 MSE missile using AN/TPY-2
Photo credit: Lockheed Martin

But for the last 48 hours, the fighting in the Gaza Strip has not stopped. Paragliders, paratroopers, tanks, self-propelled howitzers, missiles, airplanes, etc. – all available weapons are used by both warring parties.

Patriot in action

In a rare video, captured during the day, an unknown citizen [Israeli or Palestinian is unclear] has managed to point his phone at the sky. Turkish media claim that what is seen in the air is the moment of interception of a rocket fired by Hamas by an interceptor fired by a MIM-104 Patriot.

The video starts a little in the middle of the explosion, which makes perfect sense because the cameraman is not prepared for what he is about to capture. A powerful explosion followed and dozens of debris fell to the ground.

Interestingly, the interception most likely occurred almost perpendicular to the Earth’s surface. Straight up, at least that shows the aerial smoke trail below the explosion.

Such shots are rare. Of course, dozens of video footage of MIM-104 Patriot interceptors being activated and their interception method can be found, but most are from exercises, not actual combat.

Israeli Patriot SAM

The Israeli Army currently operates the MIM-104 Patriot air defense system, specifically the PAC-2 [Patriot Advanced Capability-2] version. The PAC2 is an upgraded variant of the original Patriot system, which was first introduced in the 1980s.

It incorporates advanced radar technology, improved missile capabilities, and enhanced command and control systems to effectively counter a wide range of aerial threats.

Once a threat is detected and tracked by the radar system, the launcher is directed to point toward the target. The interceptor missile is then launched from the launcher and guided towards the incoming threat.

The interceptor missile uses a combination of radar and guidance systems to track and intercept the target. It is equipped with a high-explosive warhead that is designed to destroy the target upon impact.

The Patriot interceptor missile uses a hit-to-kill mechanism, which means it relies on the kinetic energy of the interceptor itself to destroy the target. This allows for a high degree of accuracy and minimizes the risk of collateral damage.

Iron Dome and MIM-104 Patriot differences

While both the Iron Dome and the Patriot system are air defense systems, they have different roles and capabilities. The Iron Dome focuses on short-range threats like rockets and artillery shells, providing protection for populated areas.

Its quick response time and high success rate make it an effective defense against these types of threats. On the other hand, the Patriot system is designed to engage medium to long-range threats, including ballistic missiles and aircraft. Its larger range and more sophisticated technology allow it to engage targets at greater distances.

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