Group of Ukrainians trained on the Patriot anti-aircraft system
In its military aid to Ukraine, the Federal Government is placing a focus on anti-aircraft defense. The systems are expensive and complicated. A second operating crew will soon be ready for battle.
The Bundeswehr has a second group of Ukrainian soldiers Patriot anti-aircraft system trained. The training of around 70 men and women was about to be completed after more than six weeks.
The defense of Ukrainian airspace is a central task, said Lieutenant General Andreas Marlow, commander of the multinational Special Training Command, during a site visit. He pointed out that Russian attacks were specifically directed against civilian infrastructure in Ukraine.
Training for about 10,000 Ukrainians
Marlow attended training on Friday at an Air Force location in Germany that will not be publicly named. The training command itself is based in Strausberg near Berlin and controls the work of the EU training mission (EUMAM) for Ukraine, which was launched more than a year ago. The Bundeswehr and its partners want to have trained around 10,000 Ukrainians in various tasks by the end of the year.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) promised Ukraine further arms deliveries and financial support in October. In this so-called winter package, everything that is needed for air defense is central. Germany will also supply Ukraine with an additional Patriot system.
Patriot (“Phased Array Tracking Radar for Intercept on Target”) is one of the most modern air defense systems in the world. This can be used to combat enemy aircraft, ballistic missiles and cruise missiles. At a distance of around 100 kilometers and up to altitudes of 30 kilometers, the defense missiles can hit targets in an imaginary bell around the position – depending on the guided missile used.
Weapon system is very complex
The Ukrainians showed the general in snowy terrain how they work in the fire control center and prepare the so-called starting devices for use. These are off-road trucks on which the guided missiles are loaded and can be fired. For the training itself, geographical scenarios from Ukraine can be imported into the fire control centers. Many of the Ukrainians already have experience with air defense systems such as the S-300 anti-aircraft system developed in Soviet times.
“They are all combat-experienced soldiers who have previously worked in the area of anti-aircraft defense,” said a German trainer. “Our training ends with a two-day exercise, where at the end we review everything we have learned.” The weapons system is very complex, but they were introduced step by step, said a Ukrainian officer, about 50 years old and wearing a mask, citing security reasons. He said: “We are ready. But our training is not over yet.”
Marlow said that a level of training had been reached at which the Ukrainians could independently work with this weapon system and thus carry out air defense tasks. The decisive factor in the training is motivation and commitment. He said: “The second thing is, of course, we got a lot of tactical information from the Ukrainians about what they learned in the fight with the Russians, be it from the infantry to engineers to air defense.” The Bundeswehr is reviewing its own operational principles based on such information.