(AFP) The United States will train Ukrainians in the state of Oklahoma to use and maintain the Patriot anti-aircraft defense system that Washington will provide to Kiev, the Pentagon announced Tuesday (10).
Washington last year promised a Patriot battery to Ukraine to help counter Moscow’s air strikes. This offer represents a victory for Kiev, which had pressured the United States to obtain the system.
“Training of Ukrainian forces on the Patriot air defense system will begin next week at Fort Sill, Oklahoma,” Pentagon press secretary Pat Ryder announced. “The training will prepare between 90 and 100 Ukrainian soldiers to operate, maintain and sustain the defensive system through a course that is expected to last several months.”
Air defense has played a key role in protecting Ukraine and preventing Moscow’s forces from taking control of the skies. But as it suffered more and more setbacks in the field, Russia began attacking Ukraine’s critical infrastructure, disrupting electricity, water and heating supplies to millions of people.
Manufactured by the Raytheon group, the MIM-104 Patriot is a surface-to-air missile system initially developed to intercept aircraft flying at high altitude. It was modified in the 1980s in the face of the tactical ballistic missile threat and first used in combat against the Russian-made Iraqi Scuds in the first Gulf War.