The United States Army has recently awarded a multi-billion dollar contract to Lockheed Martin, one of the largest defense contractors in the country.

According to the Department of Defense (DoD), the $2.4 billion agreement includes the funds to sustain the production of the PATRIOT Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missiles, which are part of the Phased Array Tracking Radar Intercept on Target (PATRIOT) surface-to-air missile defense system.

The contract will also include provisions for supporting foreign military sales to allied nations, such as Ukraine, affected by war since the Russian invasion in February last year. The production and delivery of the PAC-3 missiles to the Army are expected to be completed by December 2029,  per Lockheed Martin’s schedule.


Lockheed Martin is among the defense contractors who worked on developing the PATRIOT, a long-range, all-altitude air defense system capable of intercepting various airborne threats, including hostile aircraft, tactical ballistic missiles, and cruise missiles.

The conceptualization of the PATRIOT missile system began around the 1960s when the US Army started exploring surface-to-air missiles for air defense. It has undergone various upgrades and improvements over the years, adapting to address the increasing threat of ballistic missiles. It notably rose to prominence during the Gulf War in the 1990s, particularly in intercepting Scud missiles fired by Iraq.

PAC-3 is the most advanced configuration missile, known for its high-velocity, hit-to-kill approach capabilities. It features a sophisticated radar seeker capable of engaging targets even at low altitudes, thus making it highly effective against airborne threats.

Furthermore, it uses a solid-fueled rocket engine that propels it up to Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound, and destroys its target as far as 40 kilometers (25 miles). That’s twice more than the PAC-2 missile configuration.

Aside from the range, another key feature of the PAC-3 missile is its agility and maneuverability. It is proficient at making rapid course adjustments to intercept highly evasive targets. Additionally, its proximity fuse ramps up the chance of a successful intercept capable of detonating its warhead in close proximity to the target.

PATRIOT Joins War in Ukraine

After months of pleas and deliberation, Washington’s sophisticated PATRIOT air and missile defense system finally arrived in Kyiv last week.

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov shared the good news via Twitter shortly after Germany delivered today’s most advanced defense system.

Today, our beautiful Ukrainian sky becomes more secure because Patriot air defense systems have arrived in Ukraine,” Reznikov tweeted, adding that Germany, the US, and the Netherlands all “kept their word.”

The arrival of the air defense system marks an important milestone for Ukraine as it prepares for an impending spring counteroffensive. Moreover, bolster interception efforts against the ongoing Russian bombardments across Kyiv, reportedly up to 20 guided bombs daily.

Both the US and Germany and later the Netherlands, approved lending each of its Patriot air defense systems to further strengthen Ukraine’s defense against Russian strikes, especially after the attack against Kyiv’s energy infrastructure late last year.

Following the announcement, Karl Mueller, a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation, explained that the PATRIOT would provide a more versatile and capable defense system compared to other Western systems sent into the battlefield in Ukraine—not to mention its anti-ballistic missile capabilities that Russia might use to bombard the war-torn nation.

“Unlike the other Western systems that have been provided to Ukraine, (Patriot) has some anti-ballistic missile capabilities (depending on the type of missile being used),” Mueller told AFP News last December.

He added that if Russia were to obtain a substantial amount of ballistic missiles from Iran, as many experts have predicted, most of Ukraine’s existing air defense systems would be unable to counter them effectively.

But with its arrival, the PATRIOT is expected to provide a significant advantage to the Ukrainian forces by reducing the impact of missile attacks, especially on critical infrastructure and military assets. Likewise serve as a shield for the civilian population in the hot zones from missile attacks, thereby reducing the overall impact caused by Russian invaders.

1-43 ADA and the Patriot missile system
A soldier performing a system validation on a Patriot launcher (Image source: DVIDS)

Ukrainian troops also received the necessary training on effectively operating the advanced air defense system from the US.

Earlier this year, Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters that selected Ukrainian troops flew into Fort Sill in Oklahoma to undergo training that will prepare “approximately 90 to 100 soldiers to operate, maintain, and sustain the defense system.”

By mid-March, the Ukrainian troops surprisingly accomplished the training course US officials and instructors had expected to run for several months.

Our military deploys a Patriot battery in 40 to 45 minutes,” said an American instructor who trained the 65 graduating Ukrainian troops. “Ukrainians manage it in 25. They do a great job. They are very optimistic, considering the situation at home.”

From the political tensions that led to the conflict to the military strategies employed by both sides, discover the gripping history of “The Gulf War: A History from Beginning to End” by Hourly History here!