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Russians reportedly targeted and destroyed Ukrainian convoy with two launchers for Patriot battery and their c

Patriot air defense system
Patriot air defense system

The Russians reportedly have managed to find and target part of a Ukrainian Patriot battery the first time in Russia’s two-year full-scale war on Ukraine, Forbes reported on March 9.

A Russian drone operator located a Ukrainian convoy outside of Pokrovsk in eastern Ukraine, which seems included at least two truck-mounted quad-launchers for a Patriot surface-to-air missile battery.

Read also: 10 Patriot missile systems would dramatically alter the situation at the front – Zelenskyy

Responding more swiftly than usual, a Russian Iskander hypersonic surface-to-surface missile crew took aim—and scored a direct hit on the Ukrainian convoy from potentially hundreds of miles away. Two of the apparent Patriot launchers exploded, almost certainly killing their crews.

Ukrainian Patriot batteries in the last month have shot down as many as a dozen Russian air force Su-34 and Su-35 fighter-bombers, blunting Russia’s aerial advantage on the front.

It is possible the launchers and crews that Iskander struck on March 9, 20 miles from the front line, were the very same launchers and crews who shot down many of those Russian jets. The air over eastern Ukraine may have gotten a lot safer for the Russians.

Read also: Ukrainian Armed Forces and HUR shot down another of Russia's prized A-50 AWACS aircraft and Su-34 jet in joint operation

The Ukrainians thus alleged lost—in one incident—up to 13 percent of their Patriot launchers, assuming that Ukrainian batteries each have eight launchers.

The mobile launchers are critical components—along with radars, command stations and missile-reloads—of Ukraine’s best air-defenses. Patriot PAC-2 missiles have swatted down potentially dozens of Russian aircraft and, if you believe Ukrainian claims, hundreds of drones and missiles.

Patriots routinely shoot down the hypersonic Iskanders, but only when the batteries are deployed and alert, rather than convoying from one firing position to the next.

It’s unclear why the Ukrainian Patriot crews didn’t have their own air-defense cover while traveling. It’s possible the Ukrainian air force is stretched too thin protecting Ukrainian cities and ground troops also to protect itself.

Kyiv may struggle to replace those lost launchers. That’s because U.S. firm Raytheon is the sole builder of Patriot hardware, although a German partner does contribute to the production of Patriot missiles. Ukraine or one of its allies could get in line to buy replacement launchers to replace the two the Russians just destroyed, but that purchase could take months if not years and cost millions of dollars Kyiv likely hasn’t budgeted for.

On March 9, the Russian Defense Ministry released footage purporting to show the destruction of an S-300 missile launcher by a missile near the city of Pokrovsk in Donetsk Oblast. However, an OSINT analyst using the call sign Cloud later reported that the video showed a Patriot rather than an S-300.

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Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine