Russia’s military may have taken out a US-supplied Patriot anti-air battery in Ukraine, which if true would be a very significant first since the advanced Raytheon-made defense weapon was deployed there.
This came as Ukrainian officials have cited an exceptionally dense attack on Kyiv overnight, which included cruise missiles and drones, and even allegedly Kinzhal hypersonic missiles. Ukraine was hit by at least 18 missiles and nine drones were sent, with media reports saying some six ballistic missiles (including Kinzhal) were launched. But the Ukrainians are claiming that most or all of them were intercepted.
Serhiy Popko, the head of the Kyiv city military administration, described the barrage as “exceptional in its density, with the maximum number of missiles in the shortest time possible,” but that “the vast majority of enemy targets in Kyiv’s airspace were detected and destroyed.” Ukraine is now saying it successfully intercepted multiple hypersonic missiles. A previous claim to have intercepted a hypersonic from days ago was met with widespread skepticism among independent pundits.
The Russian Defense Ministry (MoD) has previously dismissed the Ukrainian claims of hypersonic intercepts as “wishful thinking.”
But the Russian side is celebrating a big victory of its own on Tuesday, saying it landed a precision strike a Patriot air defense system in the Ukrainian capital. The US-supplied systems only arrived last month, and just recently entered operation.
The MoD said in its latest press briefing that its attacks destroyed “Ukrainian troops positions and places of storage of munitions, weapons and military hardware delivered from Western nations.”
Russia’s RT followed by stating the following:
A precision strike by a Russian hypersonic Kinzhal missile has destroyed a Patriot air defense system in Kiev, the Defense Ministry in Moscow reported on Tuesday. The Ukrainian government previously claimed that Kinzhal missiles had been intercepted by the US-made weapons platform.
The Russian military did not provide further details about the strike, which was the first time Moscow claimed to have hit the long-range system supplied to Ukraine by its Western backers.
I counted 30 Patriot PAC-3 MSE launches here.
The FY2024 costs of these per missile is about $$5,275,000
That was $158,250,000 fired in about two minutes. And as we see, the battery or something else likely got blown up. So it failed in its mission. pic.twitter.com/9rwPnHkNGu
— Fennec_Radar (@RadarFennec) May 16, 2023
Currently there’s speculation over whether a widely circulating video confirms the destruction of a Patriot battery amid the conflicting Russian and Ukrainian claims.
Geopolitical analysis blog Moon of Alabama says the reports of a destroyed Patriot system are accurate:
This is factual:
Patriot Missiles Won’t Save Ukraine – National Interest – May 9, 2023
Patriot systems are limited to pinpoint defense of major assets and are designed to operate in tandem with air defenses engaging targets at higher and lower altitudes. Without these additions, Patriot will have too many threats to engage and the result will either be porous coverage that doesn’t protect its defended assets, or coverage that quickly subsides when Patriot runs out of interceptors.
Moreover, Patriot systems are themselves vulnerable. Operating a Patriot radar system gives away its location, making it an open target for Russian attacks. This means that Patriot is not a one-stop-shop for defending Ukraine’s military assets or its people.
Those facts were proven last night…
⚡️I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but after careful review of this video, it appears that the air defence battery (most likely patriot) tried to save itself, but failed. It most probably got toasted. pic.twitter.com/tRAB3O4Y9e
— War Monitor (@WarMonitors) May 16, 2023
Commenting on the video of the purported Russian direct hit on the Patriot battery, Kim Dotcom wrote on Twitter, “30 US Patriot PAC-3 MSE launch at a cost of $5 million per missile. That’s $150 million gone within 2 mins. At the end the Patriot launch platforms were destroyed by Russian missiles. Why would any military still want to buy Patriot after this failure?”
For these reasons, the Pentagon is unlikely to confirm the event even if true, given it consistently and almost exclusively backs the narrative advanced by Ukraine’s defense ministry. For example, last Thursday US defense officials announced confirmation of Ukraine’s claims that its military intercepted an inbound Russian hypersonic missile utilizing the Patriot system. That was the first time of the war that the Ukrainian side claimed to have accomplished the feat. The Kremlin has rejected this narrative, saying its hypersonic missiles have yet to be defeated.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainians are still claiming they shot down six entire Kinzhal hypersonic missiles in a single night, which seems dubious given the projectiles travel at multiple times to the speed of sound and have been touted since their development as “impossible” to defend against.