The United States assesses potential damage to the Patriot missile defense system in the aftermath of the Russian attack near Kiev

The United States assesses potential damage to the Patriot missile defense system in the aftermath of the Russian attack near Kiev

(CNN) American made Patriot air defense system It was likely damaged, but not destroyed, as a result of Russian missile strikes in and around Kiev early Tuesday morning local time, a US official told CNN.

The official said the United States was still assessing the extent of the system’s damage. This will determine whether the regime needs to be rolled back entirely or simply reformed immediately by Ukrainian forces.

“The high-precision strike by the Kinzhal hypersonic missile system in the city of Kiev hit an American-made Patriot anti-aircraft missile system,” the Russian Defense Ministry said on Tuesday in a post on Telegram.

A spokesperson for the US National Security Council referred CNN to the Ukrainian government for comment.

Ukrainian officials said on Tuesday that they had succeeded in intercepting all six hypersonic missiles fired by the Russians, but the Ukrainian military refused to comment on the Russians’ claims of hitting the Patriot system. “We cannot comment on this. We will refrain from commenting on Russian sources,” Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yuriy Ahnat said.

Ukraine currently has two Patriot air defense systems in the country, one donated by the United States and one donated by Germany and the Netherlands. It is unclear which of these systems may have been damaged, but taking one out of service – even for a short period – could affect Ukraine’s ability to defend Kiev amid intensifying Russian missile attacks.

US officials told CNN last week that Russia has targeted Patriot systems with hypersonic missiles, including once on May 4. That attack failed, and the Ukrainians succeeded in intercepting the missile before it hit the Patriot, the officials said.

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After intense pressure by the Ukrainians to provide them with an advanced air defense system, the United States He spent 10 weeks training Ukrainian forces about how to maintain and operate it. American and Western officials were pleasantly surprised at how quickly the Ukrainians learned how to operate the Patriot missiles, which arrived in Ukraine last month.

Another US official said it was possible that the missile strike had hit one of several components of the Patriot battery. A full Patriot battery has six major components: generators, radar array, control station, antennas, launch station, and interceptors. The components work together to successfully launch and guide the Patriot missile to its target.

But severe damage to one or more components could force Ukraine to take the system offline and offline for more comprehensive repairs.

Patriot missiles have a powerful radar to detect incoming targets from long range, making it a powerful air defense platform capable of intercepting ballistic missiles and more. But the radar emission necessary to spot threats from a distance also makes it possible for the enemy to detect a Patriot battery and learn its location.

US officials believe that the Russian military was able to pick up the signals emitted by the Patriot missiles, allowing them to target the system with a hypersonic missile, known as the Kinzhal or Killjoy. And unlike some of the short-range air defenses provided to Ukraine that are mobile and difficult to target, the Patriot Big Battery is a larger and more static system, making it possible for Russian forces to focus on location over time.

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