The Pentagon has announced it will teach Ukrainian troops to use Patriot missile systems, marking one of the few occasions Kyiv’s forces have been trained on American soil since Russia’s full-scale invasion last year.
The programme, which is expected to begin next week and last several months, will be held at Fort Sill in Oklahoma, where the US trains its own troops to use the Patriot, Pentagon press secretary Patrick Ryder said on Tuesday.
The US will train 90 to 100 Ukrainian soldiers, who will learn to operate, maintain and sustain the Patriot system. That number of service members is roughly the amount required to operate a single system.
Ukrainian officials have long sought to be supplied with the Patriot, one of the most advanced American air defence systems, which will play a crucial role in helping Kyiv maintain an integrated air defence structure. The US has pledged one Patriot system to Ukraine, and Germany has said it will send one.
Each Patriot system, or battery, includes a truck-mounted launching system with eight launchers, each of which can hold up to four missile interceptors. The battery also has a ground radar, a control station and a generator. The US Army has 16 Patriot batteries.
Ryder said the US army is condensing the typical length of the Patriot training programme so that the systems can be used in Ukraine as soon as possible.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine last February, small numbers of Ukrainian troops have received limited training in the US, including on how to operate Switchblade drones.
The US is also expanding its efforts to train Ukrainian troops in Europe, with training for larger units on more complex military manoeuvres set to begin this month.
As part of this programme, the US will train 500 Ukrainian troops per month in Germany. It has trained more than 3,100 Ukrainian forces since the full-scale war began, including on using Himars and Howitzers.
Ryder said there were no future plans to train other Ukrainian forces on the Patriot system, but added that could change. The US-based training is limited to Patriot operators, he said.