These are the Western air defense systems protecting Ukraine


Ukraie ar defense weapons illustration

Air defense systems have proved essential to Ukraine as Russia bombards critical infrastructure and civilian targets.

This week, the newly arrived U.S.-made Patriot air defense system shot down missiles aimed at Kyiv, Ukrainian officials said, including advanced missiles that have previously eluded outmatched air defense equipment.

The Patriot is just one of several systems that Western allies have sent to Ukraine since the Russian invasion last year to help shore up Kyiv’s defenses. The systems form a grab bag of different capabilities and technologies that are vital in defending the skies from missiles, fighter jets and Iranian-made drones that have terrorized the capital.

But according to leaked U.S. intelligence documents produced in February and March, the supply of air defense systems and their munitions pose a significant and growing problem, as Ukraine uses up their limited stocks to keep up with constant bombardments. Kyiv risks running low on their most common Soviet-era systems, the documents warned, forcing commanders to select what can and cannot be shot down.

That dynamic underscores the inherent challenge, experts have said: Air defense is a difficult mission using expensive and finite resources, with no silver bullets. To address that, the West has ramped up its commitments to Ukraine, sending a range of gear, from truck-mounted guns to the most modern missile-killing systems the United States has to offer.

Here is a rundown of the Western-provided systems Ukraine now has, and what they can do.

Leaked documents warn of weaknesses in Ukraine’s defenses

The Patriot is the U.S. military’s most advanced air defense system, with a range of roughly 20 to 100 miles, depending on the threat. It was designed as an antiaircraft system, but newer variants of Patriot can also engage ballistic and cruise missiles and drones.


A typical Patriot battery includes a radar set, engagement control station, power generation and several launch stations.

Missile Canisters

These canisters store the Patriot’s interceptors. Each one can carry four PAC-3 missiles, for a total of 16 rounds on each launcher.

Power generator

It provides the power to run the launching station’s electrical systems.

Launcher Electronics Module

It houses the launcher’s power as well as the launch and motor control units.

Datalink

Terminal

Module

It maintains a radio digital data link between the station and a remote engagement control station.

Tow Truck

It can remain attached to the launcher during launch operations or it can detach.

Some newer models of these systems have different capabilities and equipment than previous iterations.

PAC-2 and PAC-3, two families

of interceptors

The missile is command-guided near the target. In its terminal phase, it uses Track-Via-Missile (TVM) guidance to track the target as it is illuminated by the ground-based engagement radar.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies

A typical Patriot battery includes a radar set, engagement control station, power generation and several launch stations.

Missile Canisters

 

These canisters store the Patriot’s interceptors. Each one can carry four PAC-3 missiles, for a total of 16 rounds on each launcher.

Power generator

 

It provides the power to run the launching station’s electrical systems.

Datalink

Terminal

Module

 

It maintains a radio digital data link between the station and a remote engagement control station.

Launcher Electronics Module

 

It houses the launcher’s power as well as the launch and motor control units.

Tow Truck

 

It can remain attached to the launcher during launch operations or it can detach.

Some newer models of these systems have different capabilities and equipment than previous iterations.

PAC-2 and PAC-3, two families

of interceptors

The missile is command-guided near the target. In its terminal phase, it uses Track-Via-Missile (TVM) guidance to track the target as it is illuminated by the ground-based engagement radar.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies

A typical Patriot battery includes a radar set, engagement control station, power generation and several launch stations.

Missile Canisters

 

These canisters store the Patriot’s interceptors. Each one can carry four PAC-3 missiles, for a total of 16 rounds on each launcher.

Tow Truck

 

It can remain attached to the launcher during launch operations or it can detach.

Power generator

 

It provides the power to run the launching station’s electrical systems.

Launcher Electronics Module

 

It houses the launcher’s power as well as the launch and motor control units.

Datalink Terminal Module

 

It maintains a radio digital data link between the station and a remote engagement control station.

Some newer models of these systems have different capabilities and equipment than previous iterations.

PAC-2 and PAC-3, two families of interceptors

The missile is command-guided near the target. In its terminal phase, it uses Track-Via-Missile (TVM) guidance to track the target as it is illuminated by the ground-based engagement radar.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies

A typical Patriot battery includes a radar set, engagement control station, power generation and several launch stations.

Missile Canisters

 

These canisters store the Patriot’s interceptors. Each one can carry four PAC-3 missiles, for a total of 16 rounds on each launcher.

Power generator

 

It provides the power to run the launching station’s electrical systems.

Tow Truck

 

It can remain attached to the launcher during launch operations or it can detach.

Datalink Terminal Module

 

It maintains a radio digital data link between the station and a remote engagement control station.

Launcher Electronics Module

 

It houses the launcher’s power as well as the launch and motor control units.

Some newer models of these systems have different capabilities and equipment than previous iterations.

PAC-2 and PAC-3, two families of interceptors

The missile is command-guided near the target. In its terminal phase, it uses Track-Via-Missile (TVM) guidance to track the target as it is illuminated by the ground-based engagement radar.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies

Along with missiles, a Patriot battery includes radars and control stations to identify, track and target enemy weapons.

The locations of Ukraine’s two Patriot systems are a closely kept secret, though one recently used to take down missiles is based in or around Kyiv, according to a U.S. defense official.

Reliance on the Patriot will test the ability of the United States and the West to balance their needs to safeguard their own stocks while providing assistance to Ukraine. Each Patriot interceptor missile costs an estimated $4 million, putting a premium on each decision to fire. Ukrainian officials have said one Russian strategy is to attempt to exhaust air defense systems by saturating the sky with targets, some of which are decoys meant to confuse the interceptor, allowing the real missile to slip through.

The NASAMS suite — short for National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems — includes a command post, sensors, a radar system and munitions that can be fired from a stand-alone pod or from the back of a truck. This is the air defense system used to protect the White House.

Its radar can detect threats up to roughly 80 miles away, depending on variables including the weather and the size and altitude of a target.

The NASAMS utilizes the same kind of missiles already in common use with Western fighter jets, so their weapon stocks are cheaper and more widely available than the costly Patriot interceptors.


NASAMS (National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System) is a short-to-medium-range ground-based air defense system. It was designed and manufactured by the Norwegian company Kongsberg, which teamed up with the American company Raytheon for the missile.

Fire

Distribution Center

 

Provides battle management

command, control,

communications,

computers

and intelligence.

Electro-Optical (EO) sensor

 

Provides data to the Fire Distribution

Center to

monitor threats.

MPQ-64 F1 Radar

 

It detects,

tracks, identifies,

classifies and

reports airborne

threats.

The NASAMS is equipped with three multi-missile launchers, each carrying up to six missiles inside the protective canisters.

 

The launcher transports, aims and fires missiles with different characteristics.

Sources: Kongsberg, Raytheon, Army Recognition Group.

NASAMS (National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System) is a short-to-medium-range ground-based air defense system. It was designed and manufactured by the Norwegian company Kongsberg, which teamed up with the American company Raytheon for the missile.

MPQ-64 F1

Radar

 

It detects,

tracks, identifies,

classifies and

reports airborne

threats.

Fire Distribution

Center

 

Provides battle

management

command, control,

communications,

computers

and intelligence.

Electro-Optical

(EO) sensor

 

Provides data to

the Fire Distribution

Center to

monitor threats.

The NASAMS is equipped with three multi-missile launchers, each carrying up to six missiles inside the protective canisters.

 

The launcher transports, aims and fires missiles with different characteristics.

Sources: Kongsberg, Raytheon, Army Recognition Group.

NASAMS (National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System) is a short-to-medium-range ground-based air defense system. It was designed and manufactured by the Norwegian company Kongsberg, which teamed up with the American company Raytheon for the missile.

MPQ-64 F1 Radar

 

It detects,

tracks, identifies,

classifies and

reports airborne

threats.

Fire Distribution Center

 

Provides battle

management command,

control, communications,

computers and intelligence.

Electro-Optical (EO) sensor

 

Provides data to the Fire

Distribution Center to

monitor threats.

The NASAMS is equipped with three multi-missile launchers, each carrying up to six missiles inside the protective canisters.

The launcher transports, aims and fires missiles with different characteristics.

Sources: Kongsberg, Raytheon, Army Recognition Group.

NASAMS (National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System) is a short-to-medium-range ground-based air defense system. It was designed and manufactured by the Norwegian company Kongsberg, which teamed up with the American company Raytheon for the missile.

MPQ-64 F1 Radar

 

It detects,

tracks, identifies,

classifies and

reports airborne

threats.

Fire Distribution Center

 

Provides battle

management command,

control, communications,

computers and intelligence.

Electro-Optical (EO) sensor

 

Provides data to the Fire

Distribution Center to

monitor threats.

Launchers

 

The NASAMS is equipped with three

multi-missile launchers, each carrying

up to six missiles inside the protective canisters.

 

The launcher transports, aims and fires missiles

with different characteristics.

Sources: Kongsberg, Raytheon, Army Recognition Group.

The German IRIS-T system is similar to NASAMS. It’s a tier below the Patriot system and is configured to use missiles initially designed for fighter jets.

The heat-seeking missile has a medium range of around 20 miles and has proved effective against Russian cruise missiles, said Ian Williams, deputy director of the Missile Defense Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “The problem with [the IRIS-T] is sourcing it,” Williams added. Germany has pledged more, but they’re still in production, he said.


IRIS-T SL system

components

The IRIS-T SL

is a mobile air defense missile system designed and developed by the German company Diehl.

Command and Control System

 

It performs fire control used to conduct airspace surveillance and has the capability to evaluate aerial treats and weapon assignments.

Radar

 

The system includes a multifunction radar with a range of 250 km (155 miles).

Launcher

 

The launcher vehicle can be based on a truck chassis or a tracked armored chassis. In the firing position, the container missile launchers are erected in the vertical position.

Sources: Army Recognition Group.

IRIS-T SL system

components

The IRIS-T SL is a mobile air defense missile system designed and developed by the German company Diehl.

Radar

 

The system includes a multifunction radar with a range of 250 km (155 miles).

Command and Control System

 

It performs fire control used to conduct airspace surveillance and has the capability to evaluate aerial treats and weapon assignments.

Launcher

 

The launcher vehicle can be based on a truck chassis or a tracked armored chassis. In the firing position, the container missile launchers are erected in the vertical position.

Sources: Army Recognition Group.

IRIS-T SL system

components

The IRIS-T SL is a mobile air defense missile system designed and developed by the German company Diehl.

Radar

 

The system includes a multifunction radar with a range of 250 km (155 miles).

Command and Control System

 

It performs fire control used to conduct airspace surveillance and has the capability to evaluate aerial treats and weapon assignments.

Launcher

 

The launcher vehicle can be based on a truck chassis or a tracked armored chassis. In the firing position, the container missile launchers are erected in the vertical position.

Sources: Army Recognition Group.

IRIS-T SL system

components

The IRIS-T SL is a mobile air defense missile system designed and developed by the German company Diehl.

Launcher

 

The launcher vehicle can be based on a truck chassis or a tracked armored chassis. In the firing position, the container missile launchers are erected in the vertical position.

Radar

 

The system includes a multifunction radar with a range of 250 km (155 miles).

Command and

Control System

 

It performs fire control used to conduct airspace surveillance and has the capability to evaluate aerial treats and weapon assignments.

Sources: Army Recognition Group.

The Hawk system is the predecessor to the Patriot. Some versions are up to 50 years old.

It is no longer used in the United States, but many U.S. allies still operate the Hawk, including Spain which has sent the system to Ukraine. The United States took some Hawks out of storage to send to Ukraine as well. While the system is older than others Ukraine has, it can be useful against some lower-quality Russian missiles.


The Hawk system is the predecessor to Patriot missile defense. It provides defense against aircraft, cruise missiles and short-range tactical ballistic missiles.

The current version of the system, upgraded continuously, is called Improved Hawk or I-Hawk.

Battery Control

Central

 

It performs

command

and control

functions.

These track and

illuminate the targets.

A typical unit has six launchers. In addition

to their missile aiming function, they support

pre-launch commands and transport the missiles.

Sources: Army Recognition Group.

The Hawk system is the predecessor to Patriot missile defense. It provides defense against aircraft, cruise missiles and short-range tactical ballistic missiles.

The current version of the system, upgraded continuously, is called Improved Hawk or I-Hawk.

Battery Control Central

 

It performs

command

and control

functions.

These track and illuminate

the targets.

A typical unit has six launchers. In addition to their missile

aiming function, they support pre-launch commands

and transport the missiles.

Sources: Army Recognition Group.

The Hawk system is the predecessor to Patriot missile defense. It provides defense against aircraft, cruise missiles and short-range tactical ballistic missiles.

 

The current version of the system, upgraded continuously, is called Improved Hawk or I-Hawk.

Battery Control Central

 

These track

and illuminate

the targets.

It performs

command

and control

functions.

A typical unit has six launchers. In addition to their missile aiming function,

they support pre-launch commands and transport the missiles.

Sources: Army Recognition Group.

The Hawk system is the predecessor to Patriot missile defense. It provides defense against aircraft, cruise missiles and short-range tactical ballistic missiles.

 

The current version of the system, upgraded continuously, is called Improved Hawk or I-Hawk.

Battery Control Central

 

These track

and illuminate

the targets.

It performs

command

and control

functions.

A typical unit has six launchers. In addition to their missile aiming function, they support pre-launch commands and transport the missiles.

Sources: Army Recognition Group.

While gun trucks have a much shorter range than other air defense systems, their ammunition is more readily available and cheaper. It’s a more basic system which can easily be operated by soldiers who only need to see a threat and fire.

They have been most useful, Williams said, in intercepting Iranian-made drones that Russia has used. “Gun systems have been really good at helping Ukrainians preserve their interceptor capacity,” he said. That has helped commanders save more complex and expensive systems for bigger threats, like aircraft and missiles.

The Pentagon said last month it would provide nine such trucks armed with 30mm cannons, along with laser-guided rockets. Both systems, officials said, are intended to be used against drones.


Counter-Unmanned

Aerial System

The 30mm gun trucks can detect, track and shoot air targets like drones, but also can fire on ground-based threats like enemy vehicles.

Sources: Army Recognition Group.

Counter-Unmanned

Aerial System

The 30mm gun trucks can detect, track and shoot air targets like drones, but also can fire on ground-based threats like enemy vehicles.

Sources: Army Recognition Group.

Counter-Unmanned

Aerial System

The 30mm gun trucks can detect, track and shoot air targets like drones, but also can fire on ground-based threats like enemy vehicles.

Sources: Army Recognition Group.

Karen DeYoung and Serhiy Morgunov contributed to this report.

One year of Russia’s war in Ukraine

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Battle of attrition: Over the past year, the war has morphed from a multi-front invasion that included Kyiv in the north to a conflict of attrition largely concentrated along an expanse of territory in the east and south. Follow the 600-mile front line between Ukrainian and Russian forces and take a look at where the fighting has been concentrated.

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Deepening global divides: President Biden has trumpeted the reinvigorated Western alliance forged during the war as a “global coalition,” but a closer look suggests the world is far from united on issues raised by the Ukraine war. Evidence abounds that the effort to isolate Putin has failed and that sanctions haven’t stopped Russia, thanks to its oil and gas exports.



2023-05-19 20:31:00