The Buzz

Why America's Enemies Fear the Patriot Missile Defense System (Even After Almost 40 Years)

Last week, Gen. David Perkins, commander of the US Army Training and Doctrine Command, revealed that a U.S. ally had used a Patriot missile to shoot down a commercial quality quadcopter drone. While shooting down a $200 drone with a $3.4 million missile was widely derided as a waste of money, it is admittedly pretty impressive that the Patriot’s radar was able to pick up and direct the missile to successfully destroy such a small object.

Although a replacement for Patriot, when the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) was developed the U.S. Army opted out of the program, leaving Germany as the only enthusiastic customer for the new air-defense system. It seems likely, however, that MEADS technology will eventually be rolled into future versions of Patriot, especially as threats from ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, aircraft and now even drones continue to evolve. The missile first greenlighted by Robert Strange McNamara will easily serve for another decade.

Kyle Mizokami is a defense and national-security writer based in San Francisco who has appeared in the Diplomat, Foreign Policy, War is Boring and the Daily Beast. In 2009, he cofounded the defense and security blog Japan Security Watch. You can follow him on Twitter: @KyleMizokami.

Image Credit: Creative Commons.