Patriot Missile System provides defense of critical assets at the corps and theater level. It is designed to engage aircraft, cruise missiles and limited tactical ballistic missiles (TBMs). Such capabilities were introduced with the Patriot PAC-2 system upgrades, and more advanced PAC-3 missile, which introduces advanced anti-tactical missile capability.
The Patriot missile system comprises of a fire unit which consists of a phased array radar set and engagement control station (ECS), supported by electric power plant and antenna mast group, communications relay and eight remotely located missile launchers with four ready-to-fire missiles sealed in canisters that serve as both shipping containers and launch tubes. Patriot advanced capability-3 (PAC-3) introduces significant upgrades to the radar and ECS, and uses the improved hit-to-kill technology designed for the missile, offering more lethality against tactical ballistic missiles armed with non conventional warheads.
PAC-3 can also employment of up to 16 missiles per launcher, thereby increasing firepower and multiple target engagement capability. According to the US Army plans, PAC-3 and PAC-2 missiles will be used I mixed formations, where PAC-3 will be tasked to engage maneuvering and non-maneuvering TBMs while remaining missiles (PAC-2 and others) will engage cruise missiles and aircraft.
A possible future complement to the Patriot is the Low Cost Interceptor (LCI), 10 inch diameter single-stage missile, designed to intercept and destroy cruise missiles and UAVs. The booster will loft the missile to high altitude and then the missile will use gravity to increase its speed before an intercept.