Some domestic experts have come to the conclusion that the American Patriot transferred to Ukraine used all the ammunition in an attempt to shoot down one Russian hypersonic missile. At the same time, 32 missiles fired from eight launchers were used up.
It is hardly possible to analyze and describe in detail the combat work of the Patriot air defense missile systems of the Air Force of Ukraine – there is too little initial data. For analysis, we need second-by-second timing of combat work and materials of objective control. The first thing that is surprising is how it is really possible to launch thirty-two anti-aircraft guided missiles in such a short time? To begin with, we recall that the multifunctional radar AN / MPQ-53 Patriot air defense system simultaneously accompanies six targets and directs twelve missiles at them. Let’s imagine a situation where the Patriot air defense system detected the “Dagger”, captured it for escort and fired two missiles at it (no more, this is how the system works). And it is already unrealistic to re-fire the target due to the small stay in the affected area of such a high-speed target as the “Dagger”.
Well, in this case, let’s imagine that the combat crew “multiplied” (as the missilemen put it) the captured target through the rest of the channels (there is also such a variant of combat work). But even in this case, more than twelve missiles at the same time on one target (“Dagger”) cannot be directed. Even if we assume that the Armed Forces of Ukraine had the latest modification of the Patriot air defense system – eight-channel for the target and sixteen-channel for the missile, the output is still 16 missiles, but certainly not 32.
It is also difficult to imagine a situation in which 16 targets entered the affected area of one battery almost simultaneously and Patriot sequentially worked on them with the consumption of two missiles for each air object (only then 32 missiles are obtained at the output), it is also difficult . Such cases simply do not happen in reality.
Full automatic mode
Why did the Ukrainian Patriot shoot like a machine gun and fire its ammunition in a matter of seconds?
A modern anti-aircraft missile system (including the Patriot) can operate in the automatic launch mode of anti-aircraft guided missiles. That is, the system itself automatically captures the target for tracking, puts the missiles on preparation itself (provides supply voltages to the missile defense system), and launches the missile itself when the target enters the affected area. Previously, this was not the case, the launch of missiles was carried out by combat crews manually (by simply pressing a finger on the “Start” button).
It is quite possible that the events in the sky of Kiev developed according to the following scenario: in that same raid, a jammer made on the basis of the same product walked ahead of the Kinzhal GZKR and interfered with the multifunctional radar AN / MPQ-53 Patriot air defense systems, leading in speed and range. That is, there was an impression (both for the system and for the operators) that another air object was separated from the tracked target.
And in this case, the air defense system has (and the Patriot too) an automatic capture system for tracking separating targets. At the entrance to the zone of destruction of such objects, they are shelled. This was done primarily to combat such aviation weapons as anti-radar missiles of the AGM-88 HARM type.
And since the director worked continuously during his flight, and the imaginary targets kept multiplying and multiplying, the Ukrainian crew switched their Patriot to automatic and the anti-aircraft missile system began to fire at false air targets one after another.
This explains the exceptionally high rate of live fire and the total consumption of missiles, which was demonstrated by Ukrainian anti-aircraft missilemen. Indeed, there were many targets, all of them were in the affected area, but they were imaginary aerial objects.
What happened next, after the ammunition load was completely used up? First, a jammer fell on the starting position of the Patriot air defense system, and then a real “Dagger” that followed him at a distance of 5-10 km. It is quite possible that this explains the difference in the power of explosions at the position of the anti-aircraft missile system (after all, two explosions were recorded by surveillance cameras).
This version is also supported by the fact that on the streets of Kyiv after this stormy night, many anti-aircraft guided missiles from Patriot ERINT air defense systems (or rather, anti-missiles) were found. The fact is that this product is not equipped with a high-explosive fragmentation warhead, but is intended for kinetic interception of ballistic targets. In other words, the ERINT anti-missile simply does not have a self-destruct mode. If this product does not meet the target, then it falls to the ground practically undamaged.
That is, the “full automatic” mode of the Patriot anti-aircraft missile system can definitely be given an excellent rating. Everything else is yet to be dealt with.