US upgrades Taiwan with newer Patriot missiles
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Russian missile and drone batteries have continued to tear Ukrainian infrastructure apart. One person died yesterday and several others were injured after at least 10 Russian missiles hit their targets in Kyiv.
But in an unusual admission of pessimism one recently-retired Russian colonel, who commanded a rocket artillery brigade, revealed that the expected arrival of the Patriot system – capable of knocking Russian and Iranian ballistic missiles out of the sky – would be a “game-changer which we will have difficulty in overcoming”.
In an usual admission of pessimism the colonel – who lives in Crimea and did not wish to be named – said: “ Until recently we have been buoyant in the face of much adversity. But I can tell you that this feeling is changing among senior commanders. They see Patriot as a game-changer.
“While the West makes much of the complex nature of these systems, there is a feeling here that, in fact, it is relatively a simple matter to train troops to use them effectively, and these systems are very robust. This is a problem which will be difficult to overcome.
“In the meantime, we expect many reinforcements for the front lines though, in reality, they will stay behind the river Dnipro. They will not be forced back, but nor can they move forwards.”
The Patriot is one of the world’s most capable air and missile defence systems, and the decision by President Joe Biden to send them to aid Ukrainian troops marks a sharp escalation in US support.
His shift in stance is reportedly due to Russia’s decision to now focus on civilian infrastructure, leaving Ukrainian cities without power, and the new availability of Iranian ballistic missiles to bolster its own depleted stocks.
But things may get trickier still for Russia, following revelations by senior UK sources that real Patriot systems, expected to be delivered within the next few months, will be accompanied by decoys.
Over the past three months boffins at the Ministry of Defence’s underground intelligence gathering complex in Corsham, Wiltshire have been turning an intelligence team’s brainstorm into reality by producing a series of mock-up Patriot systems.
Designed to accurately resemble the real thing, the decoys will include electronic sensing suites which mimic the radar signature of real Patriot systems, in order to rule Russian guns.
“Russia will want to knock out the real Patriot missiles as soon as they arrive and it’s vitally important that this doesn’t happen,” said a Whitehall intelligence source.
“These decoys, which can be quickly replaced, will be in camouflaged locations and so realistic that even sophisticated electronic search equipment won’t be able to tell what’s real or just a very clever deception battery,”
Speaking last night, Justin Crump, ceo of the the Sibylline strategic risk group, said: “The Russian colonel is right when he says the complexity of training Ukrainians to use Patriot is overblown.
“Western training is massively over-engineered for health and safety purposes. It’s not uncommon to have to achieve a thousand hits in a simulator before you’re allowed to fire a live system. Russia can train a tank driver in four hours, while we spend four weeks.
“Wartime conditions may mean ten-hour training days for Ukrainians, as opposed to the four to six that we and the US manage.
“If it takes six months to train a Patriot gunner in the US, Ukrainians could see it done in less than three.”
He added that “spoofing” of key equipment is already being carried out by both Ukrainians and Russian forces.
“Using decoy Patriot systems will make it harder for Russians to guess where defences are. If only three Patriot systems are rolled out and placed around key cities or infrastructure, Russian might well avoid them and select other targets.
“But if they see all cities appear to have defences, they are forced to guess. This will lead to wasted missile strikes as they try to take out fake systems, at a time when the numbers of missiles used is becoming an increasingly important issue.”
Delivering his longest New Year message since he came to power 20 years ago, a weary-looking but combative Vladimir Putin yesterday accused the West of provoking his war with Ukraine and justified it as vital to protect the “motherland” and to get “true independence”.
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