Greece delivered a battery of Patriot anti-aircraft missiles to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) as well as 120 soldiers to work the weapons system. The missiles will reportedly remain in the country for an undetermined period of time, and will be used to strengthen Saudi air defenses. It comes after the US removed most of its Patriot missile batteries from the kingdom. The deal to provide Saudi Arabia with the missile batteries was signed in April, and hailed as a step forward in Greek-Gulf cooperation. The United States, Great Britain and France are part of the same initiative and Italy is likely to join in as well.
The deployment includes two PATRIOT systems, technicians and personnel from the Hellenic Air Force. This is part of the framework of the implementation of the international initiative “Integrated Air and Missile Defence Concept” (IAMD Concept). A Departure ceremony of the Hellenic Force of Saudi Arabia took place at the Tanagra Air Base, in the presence of the Minister of National Defence, Mr. Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos.The benefits for the Greek Air Force from its participation in a new operational environment through the enhancement of interoperability, cooperation and exchange of know-how with the personnel of the Armed Forces of Saudi Arabia.
The MIM-104 Patriot is a surface-to-air missile (SAM) system, the primary of its kind used by the United States Army and several allied nations. It is manufactured by the U.S. defense contractor Raytheon and derives its name from the radar component of the weapon system. The AN/MPQ-53 at the heart of the system is known as the “Phased Array Tracking Radar to Intercept on Target” which is a backronym for PATRIOT. The Patriot System replaced the Nike Hercules system as the U.S. Army’s primary High to Medium Air Defense (HIMAD) system, and replaced the MIM-23 Hawk system as the U.S. Army’s medium tactical air defense system.
Patriot systems have been sold to United States of America (USA), The Netherlands, Germany, Japan, Israel, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Taiwan, Greece, Spain, Republic of Korea (ROK, South Korea), United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar and Romania. The Patriot system gained notoriety during the Persian Gulf War of 1991 with the claimed engagement of over 40 Iraqi Scud missiles, but those claims became a source of controversy. The system was successfully used against Iraqi missiles in 2003 Iraq War, and has been also used by Saudi and Emirati forces in the Yemen conflict against Houthi missile attacks. The Patriot system achieved its first undisputed shootdowns of enemy aircraft in the service of the Israeli Air Defense Command.