Patriot air defence system stationed in Slovakia

At the request of NATO, Germany and the Netherlands are deploying Patriot air defence systems near the Sliac air force base in central Slovakia. The government stated its intention to do this on 8 March. The final decision to deploy the systems was taken today. They are meant to strengthen allied deterrence and to protect Slovakian territories and citizens from a possible ballistic missile threat. Slovakia borders on Ukraine. The Patriots will be operational from mid-April for a maximum of 6 months.

Enlarge image Avondfoto van 2 Patriots met ondergaande zon.
Archive photograph.

“The government is convinced that it is of the utmost importance to provide active military support to strengthen deterrence and the defence of the NATO alliance”, the minister wrote to the House of Representatives.  “This contribution is necessary due to the deteriorating security situation in Europe resulting from Russia's invasion of Ukraine.”

She also considers it important to comply with the request of our strategic partner Germany to operate jointly in Slovakia. “This concrete military deployment will further shape the close cooperative relationship between our countries.”

Enlarge image Archieffoto: afvuren Patriotraketten tijdens een oefening.
Archive photograph: Patriot missiles being fired during an exercise.

Surface-to-air guided missile system

The Patriot surface-to-air guided missile systems can neutralise fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters and ballistic and cruise missiles up to an altitude of 20 kilometres and a range of 60 kilometres. The Patriots will be ready for transport to our NATO ally Slovakia at the beginning of April. Exactly when they will be transported depends in part on Germany's planning. In Slovakia, the Patriots will be embedded in the NATO command structure.

The Patriot is a prime example of a weapon system for defensive deployment. The Netherlands uses PAC-2 and PAC-3 missiles. The PAC-2 explodes near the target, which is destroyed by the resulting cloud of shrapnel. The PAC-3 does not have an explosive warhead. The missile disables its target by hitting it. The PAC-3 missile seeks its own target, which makes it very effective against fast-moving ballistic missile targets.

The Netherlands armed forces started operating the Patriot system in 1987 and the system has been modernised since that time. Dutch air defence personnel work closely with their German counterparts. The Netherlands will deploy one Patriot fire unit, Germany two. Approximately 150 Dutch military personnel will accompany the Patriots to Slovakia.

Niche capability

In Europe, the Patriot is referred to as a niche capability. Only Germany, Spain and the Netherlands operate the system. Patriot stands for Phased Array Tracking Radar to Intercept On Target. A Patriot missile tracks and intercepts a target by means of an electronically scanned array radar.

Previous deployment

The Dutch Patriots were previously deployed in 1991 during the First Gulf War. They were deployed again in 2003 during the subsequent Gulf War. The last time the Patriots were stationed abroad was between 2013 and early 2015. The air defence systems were stationed in southern Turkey along with 200 military personnel to protect the country from ballistic missiles from Syria.