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Ukraine Runs Out of Missiles for Patriot and IRIS-T SLM Air Defense Systems

Julian Röpcke, a journalist at Bild who covers the conflict in Ukraine, has reported that on his X account as of April 11, 2024, Ukraine has exhausted its missile reserves for the Patriot and Iris-T air defense systems. Weeks earlier, Röpcke had already voiced concerns about the depletion of these missile stocks.
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Ukraine could soon run out of missiles for its Patriot and IRIS-T SLM air defense systems. (Picture source: US DoD)

"Ukraine has depleted its stocks of Patriot and Iris-T missiles, and most of its other air defense resources are either exhausted or destroyed," he stated on social media. He also noted that Western countries have significant quantities of these essential defense assets in their inventories, which could support Ukraine's needs.

Röpcke later clarified his initial statement on Twitter, expressing his reluctance to say that Ukraine was completely out of Patriot missiles. He mentioned a source who had provided him with figures two weeks earlier. "Of course, I cannot reveal the exact number, but given that it was very low, it is probably nearly depleted by now," he commented.

The Patriot air defense system is a missile platform designed to operate at long range and is capable of functioning at all altitudes and in all weather conditions. Each missile weighs about 900 kg and is 5.8 meters long. The missiles can hit targets up to 70 kilometers away and carry a 90 kg high-explosive fragmentation warhead that uses a mix of Composition B and Octol for an explosive fragmentation charge.

The system is equipped with four Patriot missiles per unit and uses advanced radar technology for navigation and target acquisition. This technology includes a passive electronically scanned array radar equipped with systems for friend or foe identification (IFF), advanced electronic countermeasures (ECCM), and a missile tracking guidance subsystem (TVM). The main radars used in the system include the AN/MPQ-53 or -65 radar sets, combined with the AN/MSQ-104 Engagement Control Station, the OE-349 Antenna Mast Group, and the EPP-III Electric Power Plant.

The Patriot system is deployed by many countries around the world, including Germany, Greece, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, the Netherlands, Poland, Qatar, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Spain, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States, demonstrating its widespread adoption as a reliable and effective air defense solution against various aerial threats.

The Iris-T SLM medium-range air defense missile system is designed in Germany and used by Ukraine. Each missile weighs 87.4 kg and is 2.94 meters long. These missiles can reach targets up to 40 kilometers away and travel at a speed of Mach 3, allowing for rapid interception of aerial targets.

The Iris-T SLM missile uses a high explosive fragmentation warhead designed to maximize damage against struck targets. Its primary guidance system is based on infrared homing, enabling it to track and engage targets using their heat signatures.

Regarding detection and control, the system is supported by a sophisticated set of radars and command vehicles. Key equipment includes the Saab Giraffe radar, the multifunction CEA Technologies CEAFAR radar, the Oerlikon Skymaster combat control system, the multifunctional TRML-4D radar, and the Airbus Tactical Operation Centre. These advanced technologies provide robust detection and tracking capabilities for managing aerial threats in complex environments.

If this information is verified, it could pose a significant defensive problem for Ukraine, which is increasingly the victim of airstrikes and aerial attacks. However, Röpcke has since revised his statements, and it remains uncertain what exact stock Ukraine has, so this is a situation to follow closely!


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