A trap of American wars: There is not enough ‘Patriot’ for everybody

11:27 20.11.2023 •

Patriot missile-defense system
Photo: Foreign Policy

The U.S. military was set to display one of its prized Patriot missile-defense systems at the Dubai Airshow, part of the American showcase at one of the world’s biggest arms fairs. Then war broke out in the Middle East, and the $1 billion battery, mounted on three trucks, was needed to defend U.S. troops based in the region from attack by Iran-backed militia groups—and the Pentagon dropped the plans for the show, writes ‘The Wall Street Journal’.

Army leaders have warned for years they lacked enough of the systems, which fire interceptors to shoot down aircraft, missiles and drones, to meet the myriad U.S. national security challenges posed by strategic competition with China, war in Ukraine and fighting in the Middle East.

The Pentagon shipped one to Ukraine last spring, to help Kyiv’s forces fend off  Russian cruise missiles. Now, following a series of drone and missile attacks on U.S. forces in Syria and Iraq that the Pentagon blames on militias backed by Iran, it has doubled the number of Patriot batteries in the region to at least 12, according to people familiar with the deployment.

The shift of the U.S. Patriots over the past two weeks was a reversal from the trend in recent years in which the U.S. had been reallocating military hardware and personnel from the Middle East to the Pacific to deter any potential challenge from China. It threatens to leave other regions of the world more exposed to cruise and ballistic missiles and other threats, especially in the Pacific.

The Patriot was introduced in 1980 to defend against aircraft and then cruise missiles from the former Soviet Union. After early testing problems and cost overruns that almost saw it canceled, Patriot has evolved into a key part of defenses against a rapidly evolving global missile threat.

RTX, formerly known as Raytheon Technologies, is estimated by analysts to generate $3.5 billion in annual sales from building the Patriot.

Planes, missiles, drones and other equipment will line the tarmac and pavilions at the Al Maktoum International Airport, which features weapons made by Russia and China as well as the U.S. and its allies, and fast-growing exporters including South Korea and Turkey.

In the days that followed, the U.S. Army flew six Patriot batteries from the U.S. to the region, joining six that were already in theater, according to people briefed on the transfers. Army recruitment posters for highly skilled Patriot technicians suggest the launchers are based in Bahrain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, where the U.S. maintains a presence at about a dozen installations.

Patriot batteries are also cycled through Europe, including deployment in Germany, and one is slated to be based in Guam and another in Hawaii, according to Pentagon plans before the latest escalation in the Middle East.

The Army declined to comment on how many were already in the region and where the new ones are located but said its “plans and commitment to the defense of the homeland have not changed.”

The U.S. has 60 Patriot batteries, while 17 other countries have bought it or placed orders. RTX doesn’t disclose production rates except to say they are being increased. The company has said it would take more than two years to deliver on new orders. Industry executives estimate the company is producing around a dozen Patriot systems a year, little changed from rates 30 years ago.

“If you think back to Patriot when it was developed back in the 1980s, we knew where the threat was coming from,” said Wes Kremer, head of RTX’s defense business, at an investor day. “But now, we don’t know where the threat is coming from.”


…The United States has created so many military conflicts in the World that now its military-industrial complex cannot cope with the weapons supplies for all ...


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