U.S.-made Patriot missile systems that were promised last year have arrived in Ukraine, Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said Wednesday.
The U.S. had agreed in October to send the surface-to-air systems, which can target aircraft, cruise missiles and shorter-range ballistic missiles, the last of which Russia has used to bombard Ukrainian neighborhoods and its power grid. However, they’re not advantageous for shooting down the smaller Iranian-supplied drones that Russia has also been deploying in Ukraine.
“Today, our beautiful Ukrainian sky becomes more secure because Patriot air defense systems have arrived in Ukraine,” Reznikov tweeted. “Our air defenders have mastered them as fast as they could. And our partners have kept their word.”
Reznikov did not specify how many Patriot systems had arrived, but he did thank the U.S., Germany and the Netherlands for supplying them.
The Patriot was first deployed by the U.S. in the 1980s. The system costs approximately $4 million per missile, and the launchers cost about $10 million each, according to analysts.
The Patriot missiles are the latest contribution from Western allies to Ukraine’s defense. The U.S. and other Western nations have also pledged tanks, artillery including the HIMARS system that analysts say has been highly effective, and fighter jets.
Germany, which confirmed the delivery of at least one Patriot missile system to Ukraine, has also supplied the embattled country with the second of four medium-range IRIS-T air defense systems that it pledged last year, according to German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock.
Though Ukrainian personnel have been trained on the Patriot battery, which requires up to 90 troops to operate and maintain, military experts have cautioned that the system’s effectiveness is limited and that it may not significantly change the shape of the war, even though it will add to Ukraine’s arsenal against its Russian invaders.