A binational, Dutch-German Air and Missile Defence Task Force is deploying PATRIOT systems near Sliac airbase, Slovakia in April to reinforce NATO’s defence capabilities on the Eastern flank following Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine. After an official Invitation of the Slovakia Government and following a decision by the Governments of Germany and the Netherlands, additional PATRIOT systems are deploying to Slovakia, where they will to contribute to NATO’s Integrated Air and Missile Defence System (IAMDS). These ground-based defensive systems will strengthen the integrated shielding of NATO’s borders and will protect Slovak populations and territory from missile threats.
“To reinforce Slovakia’s air defence and NATO’s eastern flank, we have deployed to Slovakia with the first German PATRIOT forces. Together with our Dutch allies, we will ensure the security and integrity of NATO airspace,” said Colonel Jörg Sievers, Commander of the German Air Missile Defence Wing 1 and Task Force Commander in Slovakia. “For the last two years we have conducted tactical live firings together with Dutch PATRIOT units and we are well prepared to strengthen the air defence of our NATO ally Slovakia. We are grateful for the outstanding host nation support of the Slovakia Armed Forces,” he added.
“With the deployment of Dutch PATRIOTs into the Bi-national Air and Missile Defence Task Force (BAMDTF), the Netherlands shows solidarity and contributes to enhance the defence of NATO countries in Eastern Europe. Furthermore, we strengthen the cooperation with our ally Germany,” stated Colonel Jos Kuijpers, Commander of the Dutch ground-based Air Defence Command (DGLC). “For years we have worked closely together within project APOLLO, in which a German short range air defence unit has been fully integrated in the command structure of the DGLC,” he added.
The deployment of the German-led bi-national Task Force will involve a number of steps, with the first phase already completed. Close cooperation between the Task Force and the Host Nation is essential and underlines the importance of Alliance cohesion and the requirement to frequently train together to enhance interoperability. NATO’s IAMD provides continuous vigilance across NATO airspace, safeguarding the populations of NATO member states. Following Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, there has been an increased use of missiles, Unmanned Aerials Vehicles (UAVs) and combat aircraft close to the borders of Allied nations. NATO has bolstered its readiness and military posture to defend against air and missile threats, which may most likely arise from miscalculation or loss of guidance or control.
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. defence 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 defence system. In addition to these roles, Patriot has been given the function of the U.S. Army’s anti-ballistic missile (ABM) system, which is now Patriot’s primary mission. The system is expected to stay fielded until at least 2040.
Patriot uses an advanced aerial interceptor missile and high-performance radar systems. Patriot was developed at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama, which had previously developed the Safeguard ABM system and its component Spartan and hypersonic speed Sprint missiles. Patriot systems have been sold to the Netherlands, Poland, Germany, Japan, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Taiwan, Greece, Spain, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Romania and Sweden. South Korea purchased several second-hand Patriot systems from Germany after North Korea test-launched ballistic missiles to the Sea of Japan and proceeded with underground nuclear testing in 2006. Jordan also purchased several second-hand Patriot systems from Germany. Poland hosts training rotations of a battery of U.S. Patriot launchers.