Weapons and Kit

What are the missile defence systems that Ukraine wants?

Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, the country has been subject to heavy bombardments of missiles.

Ukraine has called for modern missile defence systems to help protect against these Russian attacks, with Ukraine's President Zelensky saying the majority of the missiles have landed in civilian areas.

But what are the particular missile defence systems that President Zelensky is battling for?

Israel's Iron Dome

Considered among the most advanced defence systems in the world, Israel's Iron Dome uses radar to identify and destroy incoming threats before they can cause damage.

The aerial defence system intercepts rockets that enter Israeli airspace. 

Developed by the country's Rafael Advanced Defence Systems with backing from the US, it is designed to counter short-range rockets and artillery shells, with limits of up to 70km like those commonly fired from Gaza. 

Rockets heading towards populated areas are intercepted and knocked out mid-air before they have the chance to land and cause damage. 

Israel has 10 batteries deployed across the country. They are truck-towed and work in all weather conditions. Each has three to four launchers that can fire 20 interceptor missiles.

The system is expensive to develop but manufacturers express that it is cost-effective because of the technology it uses to differentiate between missiles likely to hit built-up areas and those that would not.

Israel's Iron Dome advanced defence system DATE UNKNOWN CREDIT Rafael.jpg
Israel's Iron Dome aerial defence system (Picture: RAFAEL).

American Patriot batteries

Patriot is a combat-proven air defence system operated by the US and a number of its allies.

It is a long-range, high-altitude, all-weather surface-to-air missile system – the top choice of the US.

Patriot can detect, identify, target and track ballistic and cruise missiles, drones, aircraft and other threats.

US forces deployed the Patriot missile systems during the 2003 Iraq conflict. The systems were stationed in Kuwait and destroyed a number of hostile surface-to-surface missiles.

The Patriot system was also deployed to Ukraine's neighbour Slovakia, as part of NATO's reinforcement of its defences in eastern Europe. 


Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky's call for modern missile defence systems comes following his claims that more than 2,600 cruise missiles have landed since the full-scale invasion began.

Israel's Iron Dome and American Patriot batteries are the sorts of systems Mr Zelensky says his country needs.

Ukraine is looking to purchase the Israeli Iron Dome air defence system to protect its cities and military objects from Russian missile strikes.

In March, Mr Zelensky addressed the Israeli parliament by video link and questioned Israel's reluctance to sell its Iron Dome missile defence system to Ukraine. 

Image ID 2J13D7J Tel Aviv rally of Ukraine support,Habima square. Broadcast of Zelensky's appeal to Israeli government 20032022 CREDIT Uri Yerochov,Alamy Stock Photo.jpg
A rally in support of Ukraine in Tel Aviv which broadcast President Zelensky's appeal to the Israeli government (Picture: Uri Yerochov/Alamy Stock Photo).

Ukraine's president has urged Israel to abandon its effort to maintain neutrality following Russia's invasion, saying the time had come for the Jewish state to firmly back his country.

"Everybody knows that your missile defence systems are the best... and that you can definitely help our people, save the lives of Ukrainians, of Ukrainian Jews," said Mr Zelensky.

Pentagon officials have reportedly said that they would not send the Patriot air-defense system to Ukraine, as US forces would need to enter Ukraine to operate it, which would be a non-starter for President Biden's administration.

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