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Breaking News: Romania donates a US Patriot missile defense system to Ukraine.

On June 20, 2024, the Supreme Council of Defense of Romania, presided over by President Klaus Iohannis, convened at the Cotroceni Palace. It was decided to donate a Patriot missile defense system to Ukraine. The meeting focused on several critical issues, notably the operational status and strategic significance of the Patriot missile defense systems.
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Romania received its first Patriot surface-to-air missile system in September 2020, completing the delivery of four systems by 2023. (Picture source: Romanian MoD)

The Ministry of National Defense presented an analysis to the Supreme National Defense Council, detailing the current status of the four operational Patriot systems. The report also included the progress of acquiring three additional systems, emphasizing their operational importance both nationally and within the allied framework. A significant point of discussion was the potential impact and strategic considerations of transferring one of these systems.

The council's deliberations were influenced by the significant deterioration of the security situation in Ukraine. Russia's ongoing and intensified attacks on Ukrainian civilians and critical infrastructure, particularly within the energy sector, have created severe regional security repercussions. This escalating conflict has also posed direct implications for Romania's security, prompting a need for a responsive and coordinated stance with allied nations.

In light of these developments, the council members reached an agreement to donate one of Romania's Patriot systems to Ukraine. This decision is contingent upon continued negotiations with allied nations, particularly the United States, to procure a similar or equivalent defense system. The aim is to ensure that Romania's air defense capabilities remain robust, maintaining national security and NATO interoperability.

This decision was based on a technical evaluation conducted by Romanian authorities. All necessary measures have been implemented to mitigate any potential vulnerabilities that might arise from this transfer. Concurrently, Romania will continue its dialogue with allied partners to secure additional support and fortify its air defense infrastructure.

The Romanian Air Force's 74th Patriot Regiment operates both PAC-2 GEM-T and PAC-3 MSE Patriot missile systems. Romania received its first Patriot surface-to-air missile system in September 2020, completing the delivery of four systems by 2023. This acquisition stemmed from a November 2017 agreement in which Romania purchased seven Patriot Configuration 3 units, which included radars, a control station, antennas, launching stations, and power plants. The package also comprised 168 Patriot Advanced Capability-3 Missile Segment Enhancement (PAC-3 MSE) missiles and 56 Patriot MIM-104E PAC-2 Guidance Enhanced Missile TBM (GEM-T) missiles, with the agreement valued at around $4 billion. Additionally, three more systems are scheduled to be deployed with the Romanian Land Forces.

The Patriot PAC-2 missile system is a surface-to-air missile platform designed for intercepting aircraft and has been adapted to counter ballistic and cruise missiles. It employs a blast-fragmentation warhead, which detonates near the target to inflict damage via high-velocity fragments. The PAC-2 has a maximum range of approximately 160 kilometers and can engage targets at a wide range of altitudes. Its radar system can track and guide multiple missiles simultaneously, enhancing its capability to defend against various airborne threats.

The Patriot PAC-3 missile system, on the other hand, uses hit-to-kill technology, which destroys targets through direct impact, providing higher precision. This system is optimized for intercepting tactical ballistic and cruise missiles. Each launcher can carry up to 16 PAC-3 interceptors, compared to the four PAC-2 missiles per launcher. The PAC-3 features improvements in speed, maneuverability, and target discrimination due to its more powerful rocket motor and advanced guidance system. These enhancements make the PAC-3 a critical element of integrated air and missile defense systems.

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