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Air Defense: Kuwait Versus Iranian Missiles
   Next Article → PROCUREMENT: Failure Will Be Tolerated
August 6, 2012: Kuwait is buying 60 more PAC-3 Patriot anti-missile missiles from the United States. The deal includes four radars and 20 launchers. Two years ago Kuwait ordered 209 MIM-104E PAC 2 anti-aircraft missiles, for $4.4 million each. These are the latest model for the anti-aircraft version of the Patriot missile. Kuwait is mainly concerned with Iran's growing arsenal of ballistic missiles, thus the new order for the PAC-3.

The smaller PAC-3 (MIM-104F) anti-missile missile, as well as the PAC-2 can hit missiles but PAC-3 is much better at it (and is largely useless against aircraft). In the 1990s, Kuwait bought 5 Patriot batteries (each with a search radar and five launchers, each carrying four missiles). For both models, the missiles come in sealed containers, which are mounted on the launcher for firing.

The U.S. Army has ten Patriot anti-aircraft missile battalions. Each Patriot battalion has 12-24 launchers (3-6 batteries). Each battery is manned by about a hundred troops and contains a radar, plus four launchers. A battery can fire either of the Patriot missile types. The PAC-3 missile is smaller than the cheaper anti-aircraft version (PAC-2), thus a Patriot launcher can hold sixteen PAC 3 missiles, versus four PAC-2s. A PAC 2 missile weighs about a ton, a PAC-3 weighs about a third of that. The PAC-3 has a shorter range (about 20 kilometers) versus 70 kilometers for the anti-aircraft version. Kuwait has some Pac 3 missiles but is apparently mostly concerned with air attacks.

While each Patriot launcher, loaded with PAC-3 missiles, can only defend against ballistic missiles approaching within 20 kilometers, the Patriot radar can detect targets out to a hundred kilometers. Two PAC-3 missiles are fired at each incoming ballistic missile, to increase the probability of a hit. The PAC-3 missile has its own radar and uses it to track the incoming warhead and execute a collision course.

Next Article → PROCUREMENT: Failure Will Be Tolerated