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Israel to mothball its Patriots, fate of systems badly needed by Ukraine unknown

by Chris York April 30, 2024 6:22 PM 2 min read
An Israeli soldier runs from a Patriot missile launcher on Feb. 27, 2003, as the anti-aircraft and anti-ballistic missile missile is ready to launch from Hafetz Hayim army base near the town of Gadera, Israel. (Photo by David Silverman/Getty Images)
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The Israeli Air Force will mothball its Patriot air defense systems within two months as it moves to replace them with its own more advanced air defense equipment, the country's defense ministry announced on April 30.

According to media reports, Israel is thought to have eight U.S.-produced Patriot systems that currently work alongside its own air defenses, most famously the Iron Dome, a short-range interceptor designed to shoot down rockets, mortars, and drones.

It also deploys the David's Sling system, designed to shoot down medium-range projectiles, and the Arrow, a long-range system designed to intercept ballistic missiles.

All were put to their biggest test yet earlier this month when Iran fired 170 drones, 30 cruise missiles, and 120 ballistic missiles at Israel, almost all of which were intercepted and destroyed.

Israel will from now on rely on the Iron Dome, David's Sling, and the Arrow for its air defenses, rendering its Patriots – in use by the country since 1991 – obsolete.

The country's defense ministry did not say what would happen to the systems after they're retired but Ukraine has for months now been asking for more Patriots to bolster the country's air defenses in the face of escalating Russian aerial attacks.

The Kyiv Independent asked Ukraine's Defense Ministry if they had requested the mothballed Patriots but had not received a response at the time of publication.

According to President Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine needs 25 Patriots to protect the country from Russian attacks, but Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said he is for now focused on securing seven to protect Ukraine's largest cities.

Germany said on April 13 that it would provide Ukraine with one more Patriot air defense system, bringing the total number of Patriots supplied by Germany to three.

Hopes that Greece would follow suit were dashed on April 25 when Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said his country would not supply Ukraine with Patriots or S-300 air defense systems.

Spanish Defense Minister Margarita Robles announced on April 26 that Madrid would send Kyiv more Patriot missiles but not the systems themselves.

Kyiv is also pushing Washington for the joint production of Patriot air defense systems, Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova said in an interview with European Pravda on April 23.

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