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Ukraine Waits for US Missile System in Wake of Latest Russian Strike

A Patriot missile mobile launcher on display March 21, 2023, outside the Fort Sill Army Post near Lawton, Oklahoma, where Ukrainian soldiers learned how to use the system. A Patriot air defense system is expected in Ukraine after Easter, said an air force official from Ukraine.

In the wake of Friday's deadly Russian missile strikes, Ukraine's air force said the country would soon have weapons with which to try to prevent such attacks: a Patriot air defense system.

The delivery of the Patriot is expected in Ukraine sometime after Easter, Ukrainian air force spokesperson Yuriy Ihnat said. The primarily Orthodox Christian country observes Easter on Sunday.

Speaking Saturday on Ukrainian state TV, Ihnat declined to give a precise timeline for the arrival of the defensive missile system but said the public would know "as soon as the first Russian aircraft is shot down."

A group of 65 Ukrainian soldiers completed their training last month at Fort Sill, a U.S. Army post in Oklahoma, and returned to Europe to learn more about using the defensive missile system to track and shoot down enemy aircraft.

Officials said at the time that the Ukrainians would then go back to their country with a Patriot missile battery, which typically includes six mobile launchers, a mobile radar, a power generator and an engagement control center.

Germany and the Netherlands also have pledged to provide a Patriot system each to Ukraine. In addition, a SAMP/T anti-missile system pledged by France and Italy "should enter Ukraine in the near future," Ihnat said this week.

The Ukrainian military is looking to beef up its ability to intercept missiles as it prepares for an expected spring counteroffensive to retake Russian-occupied areas of the country.