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U.S. to buy Patriot missiles from Japan to keep supplying Ukraine

U.S. to buy Patriot missiles from Japan to keep supplying Ukraine U.S. to deliver mssiles for Patriot to Ukraine thanks to Japan
Author: Maria Kholina

Japan is set to officially make a policy change allowing it to export several dozen Patriot missiles to the United States, bolstering Washington's arsenals, according to the Washington Post.

The move is seen as providing flexibility to the United States in sending more modern missile defense systems to Ukraine, which is in desperate need as Kyiv prepares for potential Russian airstrikes this winter.

Japan manufactures Patriot missiles, a leading U.S. missile defense system, under a license from Raytheon. President Joe Biden raised this issue with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at Camp David in August during a historic trilateral summit with South Korea and again at an economic summit in San Francisco last month. Seoul has pledged to provide Ukraine with hundreds of thousands of artillery rounds in the past year, more than all European countries combined, according to officials.

Concerned that Russian aggression could prompt China to take similar actions against Taiwan, Japan has supported Ukraine, becoming the first East Asian country to join Western sanctions against Moscow. Kishida, speaking in January as the head of the Group of Seven, said that Ukraine could become the East Asia of tomorrow.

Supply to Ukraine

The Japanese government is expected to announce these changes on Friday. The Patriots will not go directly to Ukraine; instead, Japan is considering sending dozens of missiles to the United States to replenish its stocks for Japan and the Indo-Pacific region. Tokyo has not provided a schedule, but decisions on certain figures are expected "soon," according to an official.

The considered munitions include PAC-2 and PAC-3 interceptors. PAC-2 is designed to destroy certain types of ballistic missiles by exploding nearby, while PAC-3 is a direct-impact munition targeting missiles and aircraft with greater explosive power. The cost of advanced PAC-3 interceptors is estimated to be around $4 million each.

This move comes after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy expressed concerns about his country's defense during his visit to Washington last week. He emphasized the need for more to protect major cities like Odesa, as only a handful of munitions remain to defend Kyiv.

Ukraine has a diverse set of air defense systems, but they are under strain due to constant shelling by Russian missiles and drones. The prospects of Republican lawmakers approving Biden's request for an additional $60 billion in security aid remain uncertain.

With Patriots already in high demand in Eastern Europe, the conflict between Israel and the Gaza Strip has further increased supply. The wave of air attacks on U.S. forces in the Middle East prompted the Pentagon to deploy missile defense forces to the region, including those operating Patriot batteries.

Ukraine claims to have used the Patriot system to shoot down Russian ballistic missiles, including the air-launched Kinzhal missiles. It has achieved other significant victories, such as in May when a Patriot air defense unit downed three enemy helicopters and two planes that were still in Russian airspace after the shelling of Ukraine.

Ukraine received its first Patriot system from Germany in April 2023, following training for Ukrainian operators that began in early February. In November, it was announced that Ukraine would soon receive another Patriot missile system from Germany, with at least two divisions of this missile defense system currently on active duty.