Third Patriot delivery thumbnailImage: Bundeswehr Third Patriot delivery thumbnailImage: Bundeswehr

Germany has delivered a third Patriot fire unit to Ukraine

Equipping Ukraine with state-of-the-art air defence systems to protect the army, the civilian population and critical infrastructure has taken a major step forward.

Germany has officially delivered the third Patriot fire unit to Ukraine, which was pledged on the 13th of April 2024. This was announced today by the German Ambassador to Ukraine Martin Jäger on X (formerly Twitter).

With the latest delivery, Ukraine now operates a total of four Patriot fire units, three of which originate from Bundeswehr stocks, while one additional fire unit was provided by the USA.

Even if the Ukrainian soldiers have considerably less time to learn how to operate the best air defence system in the arsenal of the German and Ukrainian armed forces, with less than three months of training time in Sanitz, the fire unit now supplied by Germany will serve them well and save countless lives every day.

Many of the approximately 90 Ukrainian soldiers trained by the 21 Surface-to-Air Missile Group have previously served on other air defence systems such as the S-300, so they have plenty of experience when it comes to shooting down Russian ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and, if necessary, also drones.

Multiple Patriot launchersImage: Presidential Office of Ukraine | CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 International
Several Patriot launchers of the fire unit lined up

In terms of firepower, the fire unit was probably supplied with at least seven, possibly eight launchers. This information is based on images and video footage published during two previous visits of Minister of Defence Boris Pistorius in May and June. This is also in line with previous deliveries.

A big question mark still surrounds the number of missiles supplied as part of the fire unit that has now been delivered. Although the delivery of 100 Patriot missiles was announced by Pistorius on the 11th of June during the Ukrainian Presidents visit to the Ukrainian soldiers’ training, this is likely to be an additional delivery largely paid for by Denmark, Norway, and the Netherlands.

If one considers the two fire units previously supplied by Germany, in which 100 and 56 missiles were included, the number of missiles that have now been delivered is probably also in the higher double-digit range.

Where and how exactly the recently delivered Patriot fire unit will be deployed is, of course, being kept secret. However, due to the sensitive situation in the south and especially in Eastern Ukraine, it can be assumed that it will be deployed there.

Ambush-like attacks along the frontline — commonly known as SAMbushes — can also be expected. The Ukrainian Air Force has already successfully used this tactic numerous times in the past with the German-supplied Patriot fire units, which are unlike the US-supplied ones extremely mobile due to their design, and are therefore very suitable for this purpose.

For example, on the 13th of May 2023, the Ukrainian Air Force shot down numerous Russian aircraft in the Russian Bryansk region — more precisely one Su-34 and one Su-35 jets and three Mi-8 helicopters.

Downed Su-34 burning
Downed Su-34 burning on Russian territory

The actual attack lasted only for a few minutes and caused enormous losses to the Russian Air Force. After the mission, they immediately headed towards Southern Ukraine and shot down another Russian jet (Su-35 fighter jet) just days later.

Even though the fourth Patriot fire unit that has now been delivered represents a major step forward, it is still a long way towards achieving the necessary minimum of protection.

Ukraine is asking for at least six additional Patriot air defence systems, of which so far only the Netherlands and, depending on how closely we look at it, Romania have pledged to provide one. As things stand at present, there are still at least four Patriot fire units missing to ensure the minimum necessary protection of Ukrainian airspace.

If one believes reports by the Financial Times or The Wall Street Journal, the US government is about to take over eight Israeli-owned Patriot fire units and deliver them to Ukraine, which would mean a massive increase in Ukrainian capabilities.

So it remains to be seen how the situation develops. At least as far as Germany is concerned, it can be said that the possibilities of the German Luftwaffe are almost completely exhausted.

Although eight fire units have been ordered from industry for around €2.8 billion, ensuring an increase in the capability of the German Luftwaffe by five fire units, the deliveries will take several years until at least around 2029. Additional deliveries to Ukraine would therefore be very difficult to cope with.

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