The US military is considering training Ukrainian forces how to use Patriot missile defense systems at a base in the United States, POLITICO reported Thursday, citing two unnamed Pentagon officials.
One Patriot air defense battery and munitions for the system were included in the $1.85 billion weapons package the US announced for Ukraine on Wednesday. It marks an escalation in US military aid as the Raytheon-made Patriots are considered to be the most advanced air defense systems in the US arsenal.
According to military experts, it should take about six months to train Ukrainians how to use the system, a timeline that would put the system on the battlefield by early summer if training began soon. Operating one Patriot battery requires about 90 troops, demonstrating how advanced the system is.
The Pentagon has been training Ukrainians on how to use other US-provided weapons in Germany and elsewhere in Europe but hasn’t had a similar program inside the US since Russia invaded in February. If the training is done in the US, it would likely be at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, where officials told POLITICO most of the trainers and simulators are located.
The report said that the Pentagon is considering whether to do all the training in the US or to complete other portions of it in a third country. An official said that the US wouldn’t give Ukraine the battery until its forces know how to use it, and it would likely be a system that the US military has in storage rather than one that’s deployed.