The US is considering sending the Patriot missile defense system to Ukraine to support their air defense capabilities against incoming Russian attacks, a senior US defense official told reporters Tuesday.
“All capabilities are on the table,” the official said when asked if the US was considering sending Patriot batteries specifically to Ukraine. “Patriot is one of the air defense capabilities that is being considered,” the official added.
The Patriot air defense missile system – Patriot stands for “Phased Array Tracking Radar to Intercept of Target” – is designed to counter and destroy incoming short-range ballistic missiles, advanced aircraft and cruise missiles.
Air defense of Ukraine is the US’s “top priority,” the official added.
“We’re looking at all the possible capabilities that could help the Ukrainians withstand Russian attacks, so all the capabilities are on the table, and we are looking at what the United States can do, we’re looking at what our allies and partners can do, and looking at combinations of capabilities that would be useful,” the official added.
However, later on Tuesday, Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters during a briefing that the US has “no plans to provide Patriot batteries to Ukraine” right now.
“We discuss a wide variety of capabilities and support with Ukraine, we regularly consult with Ukraine, we regularly consult with our allies and our partners on what their defense needs are,” Ryder said. “Right now, we have no plans to provide Patriot batteries to Ukraine, but again we’ll continue to have those discussions, and when and if there’s something to announce on that front, we will.”
Part of the challenge with sending Patriot batteries or other advanced weaponry to Ukraine is those systems require a “pretty significant maintenance and sustainment tail as well as a training tail on those things,” Ryder said.
“None of these systems are plug and play, you can’t just show up on the battlefield and start using them, so those are the kinds of things that are taken into account when it comes to more advanced systems,” Ryder said.
Ukraine’s air defense remains a “priority” to the US, Ryder added.
“We’ll continue to look at working with allies and partners in terms of what we can get to Ukraine as quickly as possible so they can start employing those capabilities immediately,” Ryder said.