The Pentagon said that about 100 Ukrainian troops would be trained to operate the Patriot system for months at an Army base in Oklahoma.
Pentagon spokesman Pat Ryder said on January 10 that the training of Patriot missile crews for Ukraine would take place at the US Army’s Sill base in Oklahoma. “Patriot missiles will add air defense capabilities to Ukraine in the context of Russia stepping up its air strikes across the country,” he said.
Base Sill is home to the Army and Marine Corps Artillery School, as well as the Army Air Defense Artillery School, the 31st Air Defense Artillery Brigade, and the 75th Artillery Brigade of the US Army. This is an artillery and anti-aircraft missile training center for the entire US military, possessing modern simulation systems for Patriot batteries.
Patriot missile launchers deployed during a drill at Sill base, Oklahoma, USA, in 2019. Photo: US Army. Ukrainian soldiers will learn theory and combine practice with simulation.
Ukrainian soldiers will learn theory and combine practice with simulation equipment and practical complexes, focusing on the operation and maintenance of Patriot batteries.
The training process normally lasts about a year, but the US Department of Defense is looking at options to shorten the time to a few months to allow Ukrainian troops to return to the country to join the war quickly.
The US confirmed late last year that it would deliver Patriot missiles to Ukraine but did not have a specific time. Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that preparations had been completed for receiving the Patriot system from the US.
The Kremlin has warned that US Patriot systems will be a legitimate target if they appear in Ukraine. Russia also accused the US of increasing the risk of direct conflict by increasing arms aid to Ukraine.
Patriot is expected to be a weapon that can significantly change the situation in the skies over Ukraine, thanks to its superior combat capability compared to the air defense systems that the US has transferred to Ukraine. However, experts warn that it is “unrealistic” to expect Patriot to act as a “silver bullet” that can solve all of Ukraine’s air defense problems.
Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, who served as the commander of the US Army in Europe, pointed out that the Patriot complex of Ukraine is not immediately ready for combat. In addition, American troops will have to maintain or repair the complex for about a year before Ukraine becomes self-sufficient in this process.
General Hertling said that the US-aided Patriot complex is not a “game-changing” weapon because it can only protect a relatively small area, not covering the entire Ukrainian airspace.
Jack Watling, a senior expert on land warfare at the Royal Research Institute for Defense and Security (RUSI), said that the Patriot is complex both in terms of operation and maintenance.
“Ukrainian soldiers have had problems operating previously delivered Western weapons due to inadequate training in maintenance and repair on the battlefield,” Watling said.