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Ukraine to get Patriot missile training in Oklahoma

Published on 2023-05-28 10:22:35 source:NBC News

Ukrainian troops will receive training on the Patriot missile system in the US state of Oklahoma, American officials have said.

Around 90 to 100 soldiers will arrive from Ukraine at base Fort Sill as soon as next week, the Pentagon confirmed.

The training at Fort Sill, where US artillery troops also train, is expected to take several months.

Ukraine has said the advanced missile defence system will be a game-changer in the war with Russia.

"Once fielded, the Patriot… will contribute to Ukraine's air defence capabilities, and provide another capability to the Ukrainian people to defend themselves against Russia's ongoing aerial assaults," Pentagon spokesman Pat Ryder told reporters at a briefing on Tuesday.

Last month, during a visit to Washington by Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky, President Joe Biden announced that the US would provide Ukraine with a Patriot missile battery.

In response, Russian President Vladimir Putin mocked the Patriot system as outdated and said Russia's military would "knock down" its defences.

Patriot missiles are a surface-to-air system capable of destroying fast aerial targets such as cruise missiles.

One battery is typically crewed by 90 troops who must undergo one year of training.

Ukraine's troops will receive expedited training, which is still expected to take several months to complete. The training will include classroom sessions and work in a simulation lab.

Last week, Germany announced it would also provide a Patriot system to Ukraine. Berlin also said it would provide armoured personnel carriers to Ukraine, while France said it would send light tanks.

The Patriot announcement came as President Biden met the leaders of Canada and Mexico for a summit in Mexico City.

Also on Tuesday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that country would buy a US-made National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System (Nasams) for Ukraine.

"This is the first Canadian donation of an air defence system to Ukraine," Canada's Defence Minister, Anita Anand, said on Twitter.

The short and medium range surface-to-air defence system will cost Canada C$406m ($300m; £250m) and is in addition to the C$500m that Canada promised to Ukraine in November.

Patriot systems, widely considered the most advanced air defence system in the world, cost more than $1bn for a single battery. Russia's military has said they will be prioritised as targets.

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