Patriot missile defense systems are set to be deployed to Ukraine faster than originally planned, and a group of 65 Ukrainian soldiers will complete their training on the systems at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, in the coming days, US defense officials said on Tuesday.
The troops will then move on to Europe for additional training on the two Patriot systems—one American, and one built by the Germans and Dutch— that will be deployed to Ukraine in the coming weeks, the officials told reporters at Fort Sill.
US trainers at Fort Sill, where the 65 Ukrainians have been training since January 15, were able to significantly speed up the timeline of the course because of the Ukrainians’ baseline knowledge of air defense systems, the officials said.
The acceleration of Patriot deployments comes the same day it was reported that the US will accelerate the time it takes to ship Abrams tanks to Ukraine by sending older M1-A1 models of America's main battle tank instead of the more modern version of the tank, according to two US officials.
“Our assessment is that the Ukrainian soldiers are impressive, and absolutely a quick study,” said Brig. Gen. Shane Morgan, the Fort Sill commander. “Due to their extensive air defense knowledge and experience in a combat zone, it was easier— though never easy—for them to grasp the Patriot System Operations and Maintenance concepts.”
The US military had allocated 10 weeks for the training, but the Ukrainians completed it in about 8 weeks. The training schedule was “aggressive,” a Fort Sill official said, with the Ukrainians training daily from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. local time.