Close to the end of another cold, but beautiful, shine-filled day here in California’s Central Valley –this Tuesday evening is just like all the rest in getting dark way-too soon.
I really don’t look forward to winter.
Beyond the shitpile of Republicans’ horror stories, the big news today most likely is maybe, apparently the US will be donating some dangerously fabulous Patriot missile systems to Ukraine to help crackdown on Russia’s genocidal/war criminal bombardment of that country’s infrastructure/civilian housing/etc — Vlad Putin will be pissed (CNN): ‘The system is widely considered one of the most capable long-range weapons to defend airspace against incoming ballistic and cruise missiles as well as some aircraft. Because of its long-range and high-altitude capability, it can potentially shoot down Russian missiles and aircraft far from their intended targets inside Ukraine.‘
As Joe Biden would retort, this is a BFD:
News: The effort would seem intended to address one of Ukraine’s most frequent requests of Washington since the war began, and follows weeks of Russian bombardment that has devastated the country's electrical grid as winter takes hold.
— Andrew deGrandpré (@adegrandpre) December 13, 2022
Details at The Washington Post this afternoon:
The plan is not yet approved by President Biden or Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, but it could be soon, the officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to detail sensitive internal deliberations. It would fulfill one of Ukraine’s biggest and most frequent requests of Washington, and follows weeks of Russian bombardment that has plunged much of the country into cold and darkness as winter takes hold.
While the Biden administration has provided about $20 billion in arms and military equipment to Ukraine since the invasion in late February, it has steadfastly resisted sending certain advanced weaponry — including long-range missiles, fighter jets and battle tanks — on grounds that, in Russia’s eyes, doing so would draw the United States even deeper into the war, and the maintenance and operation of such systems is complex. The White House National Security Council recommended reversing course only in recent weeks, as the Kremlin has intensified attacks on Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure, a senior administration official said.
The United States has taken other steps to improve Ukrainian air defenses, including sending two National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems, or NASAMS, last month, and signing a $1.2 billion contract to build and provide six more over the next two years. Earlier in the conflict, U.S. officials helped broker a deal with Slovakia, a NATO ally, to send its only S-300 air defense system to Ukraine in exchange for NATO Patriot units.
The senior administration official said Biden will sign off on the plan to give Ukraine a Patriot system only after the Pentagon has answered all questions about training and maintenance, the legalities of a transfer, and its effect on U.S. military readiness. The Defense Department is working now on the parameters of a training program, likely to take place in Germany. Under normal circumstances, training can take more than six months. Another U.S. official said the weapons will come from U.S. stocks, but not any operational units.
“This is going to be the most challenging piece of equipment that Ukraine has received to date,” said Mark F. Cancian, a retired U.S. military officer at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, whose research during the war has focused on weapons supplies. “If the Ukrainians had a year or two to absorb the Patriot, that would not be a problem. … My guess is that the Pentagon is very nervous about this.”
Cancian said the Pentagon is “taking quite a risk here” in deploying the Patriot system. “I think they decided that because the need for air defense was so great, that they were willing to take a risk that was not the case in the past.”
Further info from The New York Times yesterday:
The decision to send the Patriot system would be a powerful sign of the United States’ deepening military commitment to Ukraine. The Pentagon’s active-duty Patriot units frequently deploy for missions around the world, and experts say the United States does not have the kind of deep stockpiles of Patriot missiles available for transfer that it did with munitions like artillery shells and rockets.
Capable of being configured in a number of ways, a Patriot battery typically consists of one or more launchers, radars and vehicles for command and control of air defense operations.
The system uses three different models of missiles, according to experts at the Missile Defense Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank.
One, called the PAC-3 Cost Reduction Initiative, or CRI, can strike enemy warplanes, helicopter and cruise missiles at a range of about 40 miles and ballistic missile targets at a range of 22 miles. The second, called PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement, or MSE, can hit the same kinds of targets at ranges of 75 miles and 44 miles, respectively, the Missile Defense Project analysts said. The third, called Guidance Enhanced Missile-Tactical, or GEM-T, can destroy enemy aircraft about 99 miles away.
It is unclear which model or models of missiles the United States intends to send to Ukraine.
The Pentagon previously provided Ukraine with two shorter-range air defense weapons called National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System, or NASAMS, which arrived in November. The Pentagon is spending $1.2 billion for six more NASAMS to be built and delivered to Kyiv in the coming years. But NASAMS can strike targets only about a third as far as the Patriot system.
The U.S. military has deployed Patriot batteries in numerous conflicts since the early 1990s. In perhaps the weapons’ most recent combat use, U.S. Army soldiers at Al Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates fired “multiple” Patriot interceptors at missiles headed toward the base in January, according to U.S. Central Command.
Hopefully, this will enable Ukraine to pull out all the stops in getting rid of the nasty Pugtin-infected Russian army. Or at least allow maybe some small steps toward a piece agreement, or something.
Putin is indeed a Republican at heart, being cruel is the point — GOPers will cry.
The Patriot system at work:
Radar or not, once again here we are…
(Illustration out front: Salvador Dali’s ‘Hell Canto 2: Giants,’ found here.)