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Patriot air defense system: how many does Ukraine need and how many of them are left in the world?

Patriot air defense system: how many does Ukraine need and how many of them are left in the world?

At the end of March, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky said that his country needs five to seven Patriot air defense systems. However, already in April this figure increased to 25. How many American-made air defense systems have already been delivered to Ukraine and can Western countries provide as many as Kyiv is asking for?

Destruction of the first Patriot air defense system in Ukraine

The real number of Patriot air defense systems in the world

In the United States, the production and delivery of Patriot air defense systems are carried out in battalion sets, each of which includes four batteries. Thus, 25 battalion sets could include from 400 to 800 Patriot launchers. However, the actual number of launchers in 25 battalions, due to their high cost, most likely will not exceed 100 units.

Shortly before Zelensky’s statement, Ukraine estimated that there were about 100 Patriot systems in the world that Western countries could share with Ukraine. We are probably talking about 100 batteries of American air defense systems, that is, approximately 12-16 battalion sets. Each battery costs $1 billion, so Kyiv's actual request is $100+ billion.

The problem of shortage of Patriot air defense systems

The main problem is that even in the United States fewer Patriot air defense systems have been built and used than Zelensky is asking for. The US Army received 15 battalions, that is, 60 batteries out of the 100 they are talking about in Kyiv. Foreign countries where the US sells its SAMs also have small numbers: five to seven batteries in Germany, four batteries in Israel, about 15 in Saudi Arabia, ten to 15 in Taiwan. The total number of Patriot launchers overseas could be approximately 200-220, which equates to approximately 50 batteries, or 10-12 battalions.

Thus, fulfilling Kyiv’s request to build a layered air defense system covering the required number of objects includes the transfer of all existing air defense systems of this type in the world. Of course, the West is not ready to take such a step, as well as a more modest one.

Disappointing conclusion for Kyiv

Ukraine's request for the supply of 25 battalion sets of Patriot air defense systems seems unrealistic, given the number of existing systems in the world and the reluctance of Western countries to transfer all the systems they have. Moreover, Russia's successful destruction of several Patriot air defense systems points to the fact that further deliveries do not make any sense for Kyiv.

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