Israel’s military said on Tuesday that it fired two US-made Patriot missiles at and “intercepted” a Syrian Sukhoi fighter that entered its airspace.
The plane crashed in Syria near the country’s border zone with Israel, and the fate of the pilot is unknown, according to The New York Times. The Syrian jet is thought to be a Russian-made Su-24 or Su-22.
Israel and Syria have a border dispute in the Golan Heights and have squared off in aerial combat before, with Israel earlier this year destroying much of Syria’s anti-air batteries and losing one of its F-16s.
We recently got a chance to see a Patriot system at Fort Bliss.
Here’s what we saw:
Developed by Raytheon, the MIM-104 Patriot became operational in 1985 and is now the US Army’s main missile defence system.
The missiles are fired from the M901 Launching station mounted on the back of the M983 Heavy Expanded Mobility Truck.
Each Patriot launcher holds four missile canisters.
The Patriot fires two kinds of missiles: the Pac-2s and Pac-3s.
The main difference between the Pac-2 and the Pac-3 is that the Pac-3 has a radar transmitter and guidance computer and uses hit-to-kill technology, directly hitting the targeted missile with a small warhead.
The Pac-2s, on the other hand, explode near the target to either knock it off its course or explode it.
The Pac-2 replaced the older Pac-1.
Only one Pac-2, which the Saudis used to try to shoot down the Houthi missiles over the weekend, fits in a canister.
Pac-2s have a maximum speed of Mach 5, a maximum range of more than 60 miles and a maximum altitude of 20 miles.
Source: Missile Defence Agency
Four Pac-3s, on the other hand, which are smaller than Pac-2s, fit in each canister.
They have a maximum speed of Mach 5, a maximum range of 9 to 28 miles, depending on the target, and a maximum altitude of 6 to 9 miles.
Here’s what an empty launcher looks like.
And how it’s loaded.
Now let’s look at the five other vehicles that make up a Patriot battery and allow it to operate.
The electrical power plant, seen here, powers the Patriot defence system.
The engagement control station holds a bunch of computers that feed the battery information.
The commander of the battery is stationed and fed data in the battery command post.
The radar antenna detects incoming missiles.
And this is the antenna mast group, which works with the radar to track targets.
The Patriot is currently in service with 14 countries, including the US.