Described as “lethal and “powerful” by the US soldiers who operate it, the MIM-104 Patriot gained a local reputation after its first live-fire during Exercise Talisman Sabre 21. Two Patriot missiles were fired by Alpha Battery on day two of Australia’s largest bilateral exercise. For most US and Australian forces, it was the first time they’d seen the US tactical missile in action. The surface-to-air missiles, which can target aircraft and other missiles, exceeded expectations.
Others, like Alpha Battery First Sergeant Jeffery Harvey, 1st Air Defense Artillery Regiment (US), have seen the Patriot in action before â€“ but were not disappointed by the awesome display of firepower. “Travelling to another continent and firing missiles is something we hardly ever get to do. To have it happen in Australia is amazing,” First Sergeant Harvey said.
“I thought it was going to be one of those underwhelming things. But it’s the biggest weapon I’ve ever seen, that’s for sure,” Private Sorensen said of 7th Combat Service Support Battalion.
Three different types of Patriot missiles are in service, with the PAC-2 Patriot missiles to be fired during Talisman Sabre. With the radar, powerplant and missile trailers able to be deployed in an hour, the Patriot can travel up to Mach 4 and send blast fragments into oncoming aircraft and missiles. It took only seconds for the missiles to hit their mark after they trailed off towards unseen targets. During the firing, the missiles trackrd target drones more than 20km away at speeds of up to Mach 4. The significance of the demonstration extends beyond a successful engagement.
The Patriot demonstration was a precursor for a nearby Australian RBS-70 missile live-fire, where 16th Air Defence Regiment targeted unmanned aerial vehicles flying 2kms away. The joint anti-air exercises reflected the future direction of defence capability. The U.S. Army and Australian Army are going to have to move forward with integrated air and missile defence. That comes from the ground, the sea and air so they have to make sure all the services are fully nested and capable to counter emerging threats, according to Commander Officer 1st Division, Major General Jake Ellwood.