The More the Merrier

November 14, 2011

Dear Members and Friends,

During the last two weeks at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, an upgraded Patriot Advanced Capability variant 3 (PAC-3) missile interceptor successfully engaged and destroyed incoming ballistic targets in a series of tests.  This advanced capability interceptor is part of the missile inventory that includes the Patriot Advanced Capability variant 2 (PAC-2)  deployed in the U.S. Army Patriot Air Defense Artillery (ADA) batteries throughout the U.S. Combat Commands in defense of our forward operating bases.  The United States has 15 active Patriot ADA Battalions deployed in Korea, Kuwait, UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Kaiserslautern, Germany, and in training here in the United States at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Fort Bliss and Fort Hood, Texas and Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

The Patriot Air Defense System engages incoming ballistic missiles inside the atmosphere during the terminal phase of flight, as well as cruise missiles, defending areas the size of small cities, ports, and airports.  The PAC -3 missile uses kinetic energy (its own body to run into the incoming missile) and is faster, smaller, and can intercept missiles at greater distances and ranges with more accuracy than the non-kinetic explosive area PAC-2 missile.  With its speed the PAC-3 missile can do multiple shots at the same incoming missile in a look-shoot-look mode or engage fallout debris from the initial intercept if necessary.

The PAC- 3 is a critical element of the United States inventory of missile defense capabilities as it defends our air, sea and land offensive power thereby adding to deterrence to those that threaten the region.  It requires a specific ELES launcher that can carry 16 PAC-3 Missiles in four canisters.  Currently, the United States does not have enough PAC-3 missiles or ELES launchers to outfit all of its 15 Air Defense Artillery Patriot Battalions. Getting more missile defense inventory into the field is one of the top priorities of the current Combat Commanders in Eucom, Centcom and Pacom.

There are four firing batteries in each ADA Battalion and each firing battery has between five and six launchers that compose a mixture of PAC-2 and PAC-3 launchers and missiles.  The majority of the launchers are PAC-2 oriented as each of these launchers hold four PAC-2 missiles in four canisters. Their role is important, as they have a mission set that complements the PAC-3 and is a less expensive missile to handle slower ballistic missiles.

In today’s world Iran and North Korea have over 2,000 short- and medium-range missiles that threaten U.S. forward operating bases in the Persian Gulf and in Korea.  The only active U.S. deployed missile defense systems today in those regions for protection are the U.S. Patriot system and the U.S. Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense ships.  Increasing inventory is a crucial need, especially in Korea where the tensions are most volatile. Providing more PAC-3 missiles and ELES launchers to the United States Army will help stabilize these regions and reduce the risk to our Combat Commanders and our armed forces stationed abroad.

Our allies also recognize the value and critical need for the Patriot missile defense system as five countries (Japan, Germany, the Netherlands, the United Arab Emirates and Taiwan) have Patriot Systems with PAC-3 missiles and ten countries (Egypt, Greece, Israel, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Spain, Qatar, Bahrain and Jordan) have Patriot systems outfitted with PAC-2 missiles.

The more global missile defense is deployed the safer our world will be.

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