Spain, which has been a generous donor of military equipment to Ukraine as it defends itself from the invasion by Russia, has been cleared to buy additional Patriot missile defence systems from the US, it was announced 4 October by the US State Department.
The possible Foreign Military Sale, worth $2.8bn, will supply Spain with all of the components necessary for three new batteries, including 51 Patriot PAC 3 missiles, 24 launch stations, four radar sets, eight antenna groups, and four electrical power plants and energy power units.
The green-light follows requests from Netherlands and Ukraine to transfer its existing Patriot systems to Ukraine in June this year, reports El Pais, as part of what Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called the “Patriot Coalition”, a reference to the “F-16 Coalition” that was successful in bringing the fighter jets to the conflict.
While Spain’s pattern of donations suggest a willingness to participate in the defence of Ukraine, of the three Patriot batteries that Spain has currently, two are invested in national defence, and the third is part of a Nato mission to defend Turkey that is not scheduled to conclude until the end of 2023. Spain’s Defence Minister Margarita Robles said on 6 June that transferring Patriots from Turkey to Ukraine is “not part of the government’s plan at this time.”
The programme for the purchase of new Patriot 3+ launchers and their corresponding batch of PAC-3MSE missiles, as well as the modernisation of existing ones, is one of thirteen programmes included by Spain’s Ministry of Defence in the General State Budget of 2023 with an estimated value of $1.47 billion.
Air-defence missile capability
The Patriot missile long-range air defence system is an all-altitude, all-weather air defence system to counter tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and advanced aircraft. The missile has a range of 70km and a maximum altitude greater than 24km. The minimum flight time is less than nine seconds while the maximum is three and a half minutes.
The new PAC-3 missile has increased effectiveness against tactical ballistic and cruise missiles through the use of advanced hit-to-kill technology. The missile guidance system enables target destruction through the kinetic energy released by hitting the target head-on. 16 PAC-3 missiles can be loaded on a launcher, compared to four PAC-2 missiles.
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