Ukrainian troops may arrive in the U.S. to train on the advanced Patriot missile system as soon as the coming week, CNN reported Tuesday, citing officials familiar with the matter.
The U.S. said it would equip Kyiv with a Patriot missile battery, a powerful defense system Ukraine claims will help it fend off Russian aerial assaults, in December, but the system is complex and requires a large number of skilled troops to operate it.
Training will take place at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, where the U.S. Army conducts long-range artillery, and will likely last several months, CNN reported.
At least 90 soldiers are needed to operate the Patriot system, according to CNN.
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Training will take “several months,” Laura Cooper, the deputy assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, told the outlet. “I’m not going to be able to give you a specific timeframe for the completion of the training,” she added.
Politico reported in December that officials might decide to provide training at a military base in the U.S. While the U.S. has provided instruction and support to Ukraine on several U.S. and NATO-origin weapons systems, including HIMARS, that training has always occurred in European countries.
The Pentagon had considered a variety of options for training Ukrainian forces on the Patriot, including “to include potential training here in the US, overseas, or a combination of both,” Pentagon spokesperson Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said Thursday, according to CNN.
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Ukraine entreated the U.S. for months to field the Patriot system, but the Biden administration delayed fulfilling those requests over concerns about the logistical hurdles, including transport and training, according to CNN.
So far, the U.S. has offered one Patriot battery, which consists of power-generating equipment, computers, control systems, and up to eight air defense missile launchers, CNN reported.
Germany recently agreed to supply an additional Patriot battery after the U.S. announced an unusual supply of heavy fighting vehicles, according to a joint statement.