WASHINGTON — Next month the United States will remove several Patriot air and missile defense batteries from four countries in the Middle East, according to the Wall Street Journal, citing multiple U.S. military officials.
The Defense Department will remove two batteries from Kuwait, and one each from Bahrain and Jordan, as the U.S. military shifts its focus to adversaries like Russia and China, as well as Iran. The batteries will be taken offline and returned to the U.S. to be refurbished and upgraded before being relocated. According to an official, there are no plans to replace the systems.
Despite this realignment, the U.S. military says it is maintaining its commitment to allies in the region.
“U.S. Central Command is strongly committed to working with our allies and partners to promote and provide regional security and stability,” said Capt. Bill Urban, a spokesman for the command. “U.S. forces remain postured to conduct operations throughout the region and to respond to any contingency.”
Patriot batteries are mobile, air-and-missile defense systems designed for point defense of a relatively small area, making Patriot ideal to defend bases and specific locations.
The newest version of Patriot, the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 Missile Segment Enhancement (PAC-3 MSE), is a hit-to-kill interceptor that eliminates targets through a kinetic collision, whereas earlier variants relied on blast fragmentation warheads — which spread shrapnel over an area much like a shotgun — to destroy incoming threats.
PAC-2 and PAC-3 missiles are frequently deployed by Saudi Arabia to intercept short-range ballistic missiles launched into Saudi territory by Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. It is difficult to discern the system’s effectiveness due to conflicting media reports from Saudi and Yemeni sources. In March, video emerged that challenged claims that Saudi Patriot assets intercepted seven incoming missiles fired by Houthis toward Riyadh.
Patriot systems are currently fielded by 14 countries, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies' Missile Defense Project.
Daniel Cebul is an editorial fellow and general assignments writer for Defense News, C4ISRNET, Fifth Domain and Federal Times.