MONCh was able to obtain time with Mike Nachshen, Senior Manager at Raytheon's Integrated Defense Systems, in June for an update on the PATRIOT surface-to-air missile defence system and programme. One message resonated quite well: this heritage-era, combat-proven system continues to expand its presence in global military forces’ orders of battle, and the technology baseline is being elevated to a higher plateau.
In November of 2017, Romania became the 14th Patriot partner nation when it signed an LoA with US government for the system (story here). This March, Poland signed an LOA, making it the 15th nation to rely on PATRIOT as backbone of its air and missile defence (story here). Mr Nachshen added, Sweden’s request for PATRIOT has been approved by the US Congress, and the Swedish MoD announced that they received the LOA (story here) and were in the process of reviewing it: “Recently, the head of the Army Design Office at the Swedish Materiel Administration gave an interview to Reuters indicating Sweden would sign the LOA in the near future, which will make them the 16th PATRIOT nation. Additionally, PATRIOT is one of three systems down selected by Switzerland for its air defence needs [Switzerland is eeking a ground-based system with a horizontal range of at least 50km (31mi) and altitude engagement capability of at least 12,000m (39,370ft), with the system’s radars contributing to the overall Swiss recognised air picture; systems to be invited to bid are the Eurosam's SAMP/T, Rafael's DAVID’s SLING and Raytheon's PATRIOT system; for story click here].”
When MONCh spoke with the Raytheon team at 2018 AUSA Global, there were several PATRIOT system-wide enhancements in progress and planned - in particular, in Command and Control (C2). The industry veteran brought us up to date on PATRIOT’s technology underpinnings, noting, “we are seeing strong interest in the enhanced user interface. The newly proposed PATRIOT control system provides a total view of the battlespace, with video game-like 3-D visuals, easy-to-read status pages, search functions and intuitive interfaces. Stay tuned for more news on that capability. And the new mobile control system — the Dismounted Patriot Information Coordination Central, or DPICC – is being deployed with operational units. For example, in March, the US Army announced it had fielded a DPICC with a PATRIOT battalion based in Japan. Additional units are fielded with the 32nd AAMDC at Fort Bliss [Texas].”
And there are other programme technology enhancements on the horizon. PATRIOT Post Deployment Build 8, or PDB-8, is slated to begin being fielded with the US Army and other PATRIOT partners later this year. The fielding process will continue into 2019. Mr Nachshen emphasised that PDB-8 offers, “enhanced capability against a variety of threats; an improved IFF capability; improved radar search capability; improved target detection and identification; a redesigned Fire Solution Computer, which enables PATRIOT to take advantage of the PAC-3 MSE [Missile Segment Enhancement] missile capabilities; and an Enhanced Weapons Control Computer which provides up to 50% additional processing power for software enhancements to address evolving threats.”
He concluded by observing PATRIOT continues to evolve to stay ahead of the threat, which keeps it relevant for the fight today, and the fight of the future.and added: “It’s not just new customers who are procuring PATRIOT; we are seeing demand from existing customers for additional systems and additional capability. The reason for this is that, simply put, PATRIOT works. It has proven again and again, in combat, that it saves lives.”
Marty Kauchak is a retired US Navy Captain, a defence writer, and a regular contributor to MT.