Three US officials have reported that the damage to a Patriot missile defense system, following a Russian missile attack near Kyiv, was minimal. One official described the damage as “minor,” CNN reports.
The incident prompted the US to send inspectors to evaluate the system after Ukrainian forces reported potential damage. The officials confirmed that the system is still functional and that the radar component, one of the Patriot system’s crucial elements, was unharmed. They do not anticipate the need to remove the Patriot from the battlefield for repairs.
The exact part of the Patriot that was damaged is unclear, as is whether the damage resulted from a direct missile strike or falling debris. Ukrainian forces reported intercepting all six Russian Kinzhal missiles launched on Tuesday morning.
Yuriy Ihnat, spokesperson for Ukraine’s Air Force Command, reassured Ukrainian TV viewers that the US-made Patriot system could not be destroyed by a Kinzhal missile. He highlighted the dispersed layout of the Patriot system’s components.
Ukraine currently possesses two Patriot air defense systems, one donated by the US and the other jointly by Germany and the Netherlands. It remains unclear which system sustained the damage. Nevertheless, taking one system out of action, even temporarily, could impact Ukraine’s ability to defend Kyiv amidst intensifying Russian missile attacks.Ukrainian forces have effectively operated the Patriot systems, which were delivered to Ukraine last month following extensive training by the US The Patriots’ long-range radar makes it a formidable air defense platform capable of intercepting ballistic missiles and more.
However, its radar emissions also potentially expose its location to enemies. US officials suspect that Russian forces have been able to detect signals from the Patriot, enabling them to target it with the hypersonic Kinzhal missile. The Patriot’s large, relatively stationary nature makes it easier for Russian forces to pinpoint its location over time. Russia has been launching larger, multi-directional aerial attacks in an apparent attempt to overwhelm and confound Ukrainian air defenses, according to a US official. Targets include command and control centers in Kyiv, other high-value locations, and the Patriot missile systems providing Ukraine with long-range air defense.
Despite the intensified attacks, Ukraine has managed to intercept a high proportion of incoming missiles and drones using layered air defenses supplied by Western nations. The continued attacks could deplete Russia’s limited precision munitions further, potentially working to Ukraine’s advantage.