US Army conducts first live firing exercise in Australia using Patriot air defense missile system

According to information released by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) on July 17, 2021, U.S. Army Pacific Air and Missile Defense units working with Australian Defence Force counterparts completed the first-ever Patriot surface-to-air missile firing on Australian soil during Exercise Talisman Sabre 21 in the Shoalwater Bay Training Area in Queensland, Australia, July 16, 2021.
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U.S. soldiers with 1st Battalion, 1st Air Defense Artillery Regiment, fire the MIM-104 Patriot to destroy a drone target Jul. 16, 2021, at Camp Growl in Queensland, Australia, during Exercise Talisman Sabre 2021. (Picture source U.S. DoD)

In the historic first, Soldiers based in Japan and Guam from 38th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command, successfully engaged drone targets with Patriot missiles as part of TS 21, Australia’s largest military exercise with the U.S.

The 38th Air Defense Artillery Brigade is an active United States Army unit that provides air and missile defense to critical assets in the Pacific theater. Since 2018 the brigade headquarter is based at Sagami General Depot in Japan. The unit includes the 1st Battalion, 1st Air Defense Artillery Regiment, based at Kadena Air Base in Japan which is equipped with MIM-104 Patriot. 

Australian and U.S. Forces combine biannually for Talisman Sabre - a key exercise supporting the Indo-Pacific Pathways initiative to advance a free and open Indo-Pacific by strengthening relationships, building trust and interoperability among allies and partners.

This year’s iteration involves more than 17,000 participants from seven nations in a month-long multi-domain exercise that aims to strengthen military capabilities to respond to the full range of Indo-Pacific security concerns.

In addition to the U.S. and Australia, this year’s exercise involves participating forces from Canada, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, and the United Kingdom and delegations from India, Indonesia, France, and Germany will observe the exercise.

The MIM-104 Patriot is one of the most popular air defense missile systems in the world which is in service with 18 countries including Germany, Greece, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Netherlands, Poland, Qatar, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Spain, South Korea, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates, and the United States. 

A Patriot battery includes several components including the AN/MPQ-65 Radar Set (RS), M903 Launch Stations (LS), AN/MSQ-104 Engagement Control Station (ECS), and several supporting systems for power generation and communications, including the AN/MRC-137 Communications Relay Group, OE-349/MRC Antenna Mast Group, and AN/MSQ-24 Electric Power Plant (EPPIII).

The Patriot MIM_104 is able to fire a full range of missiles that includes the MIM-104E Patriot Advanced Capability 2 (PAC-2) Guidance Enhanced Missile – Tactical ballistic missile (GEM-T), MIM-104F PAC-3 Cost Reduction Initiative (CRI), and MIM-104F PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE).

The PAC-1 missile of the Patriot MIM-104 has an operational range of 70 km, while the PAC-2 is able to reach a maximum firing range of 160 km. The latest generation PAC-3 missile can destroy ballistic missiles at a maximum range of 20 km, and 35 km for the PAC-3 MSE.

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