Short-range missile defense capability is growing in importance as the security situation around the world deteriorates. In Europe, short-range missiles are so far less widespread than drones and cruise missiles. Switzerland is not within range of short-range missiles deployed by non-NATO or EU armed forces. However, since a potential adversary is also likely to engage such systems from alliance territory, the army must have the capability to identify and combat short-range missiles on final approach. The war in Ukraine shows that the two belligerents fire short-range missiles against both stationary and moving ground targets. Truck-mounted missiles can be moved quickly and easily. In the evaluation, Patriot won out against SAMP/T in all four main categories, in some cases by a very clear margin, and in particular in the main category, effectiveness.
The Patriot surface-to-air defense system purchased under the Army 2022 post can work with various types of guided missiles The configuration involving the PAC-2 GEM-T (Guidance Enhanced Missile, Tactical), the purchase of which was decided in 2022, is designed for defense against aircraft, drones and cruise missiles and, to some extent, against short-range missiles. Although not a criterion during the evaluation, this capability had also been determined. The increase in the Swiss Army’s budget decided by Parliament makes it possible to react to the evolution of the threat and to request the acquisition of missiles of the PAC-3 MSE (Missile Segment Enhancement) earlier than planned. Since missile defense is technically more complex than against aircraft and drones, these guided missiles are more expensive than the PAC-2 GEM-T variant.
The PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) is an evolution of the battle-proven PAC-3 Cost Reduction Initiative (CRI) Missile. It is the world’s most advanced and capable air defense missile, defending against the PATRIOT Air Defense System threat: Tactical Ballistic Missiles (TBMs), cruise missiles and aircraft. The PAC-3 MSE will give air-defense the ability to fight short-range missiles much more effectively, while strengthening the ability to last in the event of a conflict, since additional means of defense will be available. The acquisition of PAC-3 MSE missiles will expand the capabilities of the Patriot surface-to-air defense system. This is an additional investment in the event, still unlikely, but already more conceivable than a year ago, where Switzerland would have to defend itself against a military attack on its territory.
An evolution of the battle-proven PAC-3 CRI, the PAC-3 MSE boasts a dual-pulse solid rocket motor, providing increased performance in altitude and range to defend against incoming threats, including tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and aircraft. The PAC-3 MSE’s revolutionary two-pulse solid rocket motor provides increased performance in both altitude and range while employing the same proven Hit-to-Kill technology that the PAC-3 CRI missile uniquely brings to the Patriot system. The two-pulse solid rocket motor and enhanced airframe gives the interceptor more maneuverability against faster and more sophisticated tactical ballistic missiles and cruise missiles. More than sixty PAC-3 CRI and MSE missiles have successfully intercepted targets in flight testing. The U.S. Army declared Initial Operational Capability for the PAC-3 MSE in 2016 and approved it for Full Rate Production in 2018.