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Ukraine conflict: Ukrainian troops trained on Patriot faster than expected

The US is expected to provide a Patriot missile battery to Ukraine in the coming weeks. (AFP via Getty Images)

The soldiers selected by the Armed Forces of Ukraine to train on the Patriot missile battery completed their training curriculum faster than expected, a Pentagon official announced on 21 March.

When Ukraine sent about 100 troops to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, to be trained on the MIM-104 Patriot surface-to-air missile (SAM) battery in January, officials expected them to need more time to wrap up their courses at the Fires Center of Excellence, Brigadier General Pat Ryder, Pentagon press secretary, told reporters. The expedited training also will speed up how fast the batteries pledged by the US and allies could be delivered to Ukraine, he said.

“You're seeing that the Ukrainians that were undergoing Patriot training went faster than expected, just given their propensity and their eagerness to do the training,” he said.

Brig Gen Ryder declined to say how much faster troops were trained than the original timeline, but a Patriot fire-control enhanced operator requires 20 weeks of advanced training and a Patriot launching station enhanced operator requires 13 weeks of advanced training, according to Fort Sill's website.

The US Department of Defense (DoD) pledged to send one battery to Ukraine as part of a USD1.85 billion arms package in December 2022. Germany also promised a Patriot battery in January 2023.

Meanwhile, Ukraine is still waiting on the US to deliver its promised system. Brig Gen Ryder declined to provide specifics on delivery timelines or if the battery would arrive ahead of an anticipated springtime offensive.

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