Russian S-350 vs. US Patriot: A Comprehensive Comparison of Missile Systems
Russia’s S-350 Vityaz missile defense system and the United States (US) Patriot system have become stars for their role in the war in Ukraine. The S-350 system has reportedly achieved an unprecedented milestone by shooting down a Ukrainian warplane in “automatic mode”.
According to a report by the RIA Novosti news agency, the fully automatic mode means that the system operates without operator participation. “The Vityaz anti-aircraft missile system in the Special military operations zone for the first time in the world in combat conditions works completely automatically, without the participation of the operator, detection, tracking and defeat of Ukrainian air targets.
The missile system shot down several Ukrainian warplanes and drones,” said a military source. The combat crew, at the same time, only controls the operation of the complex. “The automatic mode is implemented on the principle that one does not cancel the decisions of the artificial intelligence elements of the complex within the framework of an emerging air combat situation, that is, the operator absolutely does not interfere with the operation of the complex, thus confirming the operating algorithm selected by the machine,”.
Meanwhile, the US Patriot missile defense system was also in the news earlier after it was claimed that the Ukrainian military managed to shoot down the Russian Kinzhal hypersonic missile for the first time. Commander of the Ukrainian Air Force Lieutenant General Mykola Oleshchuk said what he called a “historic event” took place on May 4.
“Congratulations to the people of Ukraine on a historical event! Yes, we took down the ‘unrivaled’ Dagger [Kinzhal]!” he wrote on social media referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s claims about the superiority of the Kinzhal hypersonic missile. “It happened during the evening attack on May 4 in the skies of the Kiev Region. The Kh-47 missile was fired by a MiG-31K from Russian territory,” he continued.
The claim was denied by Russia, which said the speed of the Kinzhal missile was impossible for the Patriot system to intercept. In another incident, however, the Russian military claimed to have destroyed a Patriot missile system battery in a missile attack.
Ukraine disputes the claim. Meanwhile, Pentagon officials acknowledged that the Patriot system in Ukraine was damaged in the attack, but not destroyed. They also claim the system has been repaired and operational again.
Comparison of the Russian S-350 Missile System with the US Patriot
1. Russian S-350 Vityaz Missile System
The S-350 Vityaz is a mobile multi-channel anti-aircraft missile system developed by Almaz-Antey for the anti-aircraft missile forces of the Russian Air Force. It is designed to protect state, administrative, industrial and military facilities and troop groupings from attack by modern and sophisticated air attack weapons.
Work on the system’s development began in the early 1990s, and its first trials took place in 2013. The Russian military received the first batch of S-350 systems in December 2019. The S-350 Vityaz complex can engage ballistic targets up to 25 kilometers. It is also capable of attacking aerodynamic aerial targets, such as airplanes, drones, cruise missiles and other devices, at a maximum range of 120 to 150 kilometers.
The design bureau of the Almaz-Antey Air Defense Company states that the S-350 Vityaz can be integrated into foreign air defense systems.
2. US Patriot Missile System
The Patriot is a truck-mounted surface-to-air missile system. It entered production in the 1980s and can target aircraft, cruise missiles and short-range ballistic missiles. According to its maker, Raytheon, the system is constantly being updated.
According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), the total cost of supplying one Patriot missile system battery to Ukraine is USD 1.1 billion. In detail, around USD 400 million for the system package and USD 690 million for the interceptor missile.
Patriot stands for Phased Array Tracking Radar to Intercept on Target. Each Patriot missile system battery includes: a truck-mounted launch system with eight launchers, launchers that can accommodate up to four interceptor missiles each, a ground radar unit, a control station, a generator, and an antenna.
It takes about 90 troops to operate the Patriot system’s battery. Training on the system takes time. The Congressional Research Service details the training time, namely system operator 13 weeks, fire control operator: 20 weeks, system repair: 53 weeks.
The missile system is land-based, but Lockheed Martin unveiled a similar system in January that could be deployed on US Navy ships.