Israel Retires the American Patriot Air Defense System

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The IDF plans to retire its American-made “Patriot” air defense system (Yahalom in Hebrew) after 40 years of use.

The Air Force first revealed it had reduced Israel’s use of the Patriot batteries in February of 2024, saying that “as part of the processes of operational efficiency in the Air Force, it was decided that several batteries of the Patriot system will go out of use and its personnel will undergo a several-week conversion to operate the Iron Dome defense system,” adding that this would lead to the establishment of additional Iron Dome batteries.

According to Breaking Defense, the Patriot first arrived in Israel in 1991 during the Gulf War, was upgraded in 2012, and first countered an aerial threat in 2014, when it downed a drone launched from Gaza. It has since had 19 interceptions, nine of them since October 7th. The IDF will reportedly be replacing the Patriot systems with more advanced ones, although it did not specify what the new systems will be.

Israel’s multi-layered integrated air defense array includes the Iron Dome for short-range threats and David’s Sling and Arrow for medium and exo-atmospheric threats. The David’s Sling system (which was developed in collaboration between the US and Israel) can be used in Patriot batteries and is marketed as the Stunner or Skyceptor interceptor. Arrow (also developed with the US) is designed to defeat ballistic missile threats, and both Arrow-2 and Arrow-3 have seen successful defense activities in the recent six-month war.

The Patriot Border Police, Lt. Col. Matan explained that “the batteries are spread from the north of the country to Eilat, and they have had many achievements since October 7th… However, the Patriot is a long-standing system that has been challenging to upkeep, so we are currently in the process of reducing the number of batteries until the entire system is shut down. We realized that we needed to move forward and improve our defense … The innovations in the apparatus bring better operational and maintenance solutions.”