Spain boosts Ukraine’s Patriots, radars and launchers await clarity

Spain’s government has taken the initiative to fortify Ukraine’s defenses. As part of this effort, they will be sending missiles from the Spanish Army’s Patriot air defense systems to Kyiv. This confirmation was made by Margarita Robles, Spain’s Defense Minister, during a teleconference with the Contact Group for Ukraine’s Defense on Friday, April 26. 

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

However, Robles did not clearly mention whether Spain is planning to supply Patriot radars and launchers. Previously, the Spanish news outlet El Pais reported that Madrid decided to aid Kyiv with surface-to-air Patriot system missiles, but without including launchers and radars. At present, Spain has three operational Patriot systems, with only two based within its own borders. The third system is stationed in Turkey as a part of NATO’s campaign to counter missile attacks originating from Syria. 

Earlier this month, Ukraine received a commitment from Germany. The Germans promised to provide a Patriot anti-aircraft system from the Bundeswehr’s collection on an “immediate” basis. Not long after Germany’s decision, the country decided to further bolster Ukrainian defenses. Their new plan included deploying the IRIS-T [Infra Red Imaging System Tail/Thrust Vector-Controlled] anti-aircraft system.

Spain will send also Leopard tanks

Discussing Spanish military support for Ukraine, Spain’s Defense Minister reiterated Madrid’s unwavering commitment to Kyiv. They have pledged ongoing backing for the Ukrainian armed forces in their conflict with the Russian military. 

As part of this steadfast commitment, additional Leopard tanks, presently under repair, are destined to strengthen the Ukrainian defense lines. The initial delivery is forecasted to land in Ukraine by the end of June. The Defense Minister further elaborated that efforts to arm Ukraine with machine guns, armored vehicles, anti-tank weaponry, and artillery ammunition are also underway.

Berlin continues to give Leopard 2A4 tanks, 15 go to Prague
Photo credit: KMW

Patriot production in Ukraine?

The Patriot system’s missiles, generously furnished by Spain, offer a critical boost to Ukraine’s military. With ammunition in short supply since the start of the year, Ukraine’s forces have witnessed the Russian army gain notable conquests across multiple battlegrounds. This pressing situation obligated Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to conduct urgent dialogues and sessions with Europe’s potentates, emphasizing the necessity of the Patriot systems. A minimum of seven batteries is the preliminary requirement, although many experts suggest Ukraine might require around 20 of these Patriot batteries. 

Emerging information in April revealed that discussions were ongoing between Kyiv and Washington to manufacture surface-to-air interceptor missiles for the Patriot systems, right within Ukraine’s borders. This intriguing development was disclosed by Oksana Markarova, Ukraine’s Ambassador to the U.S. 

Ukraine’s potential cooperation with the United States to incorporate the “Patriot” into domestic production was a key focus during Zelensky’s recent U.S. visit, said Ambassador Markarova. “This partnership not only fosters global strategic aims and strengthens economic relationships, but it also bolsters Ukraine’s combat competencies by generating much-needed assets,” she explained.

Ukraine wants to produce the US interceptor used in downing Su-35 - Patriot anti-aircraft system
Photo credit: Lockheed Martin

Not just arms

The Ukrainian and US trade delegates did more than just exchange details about armaments; their discussions delved into the possibilities of industrial collaboration. Markarova stressed the critical need for Ukraine to produce essential items themselves, be it individual parts or full products. 

Joint defense production partnerships are nothing new for Ukraine; they have such arrangements with several nations, including the US. Recently in December 2023, both Kyiv and Washington formally agreed on intentions for cooperative armament production. This partnership aims to foster the development of manufacturing structures within Ukraine that are specifically tailored to the military’s needs for ammunition and air defenses. 

Norway installs a digital electro-optical sensor system at NASAMS
Photo credit: Kongsberg

Regarding the information from, on April 26, the presidential office of the United States declared a military aid package for Ukraine worth 6 billion USD. The majority of this aid comprises munitions, featuring missiles for the Patriot and NASAMS anti-aircraft systems. This represents the most substantial ammunition supply bound for Ukraine since the war commenced in 2022.

MIM-104 Patriot

The Patriot anti-aircraft system, officially known as the MIM-104 Patriot, is a surface-to-air missile [SAM] system primarily used for defense against airborne threats such as aircraft, helicopters, and ballistic missiles. It was developed by the U.S. defense contractor Raytheon and has been in service with the U.S. Army since 1981. 

Polish SAM didn't catch a Russian Kh-type missile entering Poland - Patriot SAM
Photo credit: Janek Skarzynski/AFP

The system operates by utilizing a complex network of radars and computers to detect, track, and engage targets. The AN/MPQ-53 or AN/MPQ-65 Radar Set is a key component, capable of tracking over 100 targets simultaneously. It uses a phased array radar, allowing it to rapidly scan the airspace for incoming threats. 

When a threat is detected, the radar system sends information about the target’s speed, altitude, and direction to the Engagement Control Station [ECS]. The ECS uses this data to calculate an interception course for the missile. Once the course is determined, a missile is launched from the Patriot launcher, a truck-mounted platform that can hold up to 16 missiles.

Several upgrades

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

The Patriot missile itself is furnished with a high-explosive warhead and a guidance system. It leverages a track-via-missile [TVM] guidance system, whereby the missile relays position data for itself and the target back to the Engagement Control Station [ECS]. Based on the received data, the ECS then revises the course of the missile as necessary. Once the missile is near the target, the warhead is detonated to neutralize the threat. 

Throughout the years, the Patriot system has evolved significantly, with successive upgrades and modernizations to match the dynamics of evolving threats. The latest iteration, known as the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 [PAC-3], boasts an upgraded radar system, improved missile capabilities, and more efficient communication systems. Furthermore, it’s now capable of intercepting ballistic missiles during their terminal phase, positioning it as a crucial component in the U.S. Army’s missile defense strategy.


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