On October 30, 2023, Switzerland signed an agreement to acquire the latest iteration of the Patriot missile, produced by Lockheed Martin. The acquisition of PAC-3 MSE missiles is part of the country’s overall Air2030 defense program, Lockheed Martin announced on October 31, 2023.
Although the exact quantity of Patriot Advanced Capability-3 Missile Segment Enhancement (PAC-3 MSE) systems ordered remains unknown, the agreement follows the US State Department’s green light for Switzerland to purchase Patriot equipment. The most recent authorization, from 2022, called for Switzerland to acquire up to 72 PAC-3 MSE missiles at an estimated cost of $700 million. This followed the approval in 2020 of a larger $2.2 billion package, which included five firing units, radars, launchers, and 70 PAC-2 enhanced-guided tactical missiles.
The contract, formalized on October 30, 2023, through the Pentagon’s foreign military sales channel, involves now an investment of 300 million Swiss francs (approximately $331 million) from Switzerland for the advanced interceptors, according to a press release from Armasuisse, the Swiss Military Supply Agency.
The Swiss military is developing a strategy to deploy the PAC-3 MSE missiles, which have a shorter range but improved maneuverability compared to the tactical variant, to counter short-range ballistic missiles and threats from planes, drones, and cruise missiles.
According to Armasuisse, delivery of the Patriot’s main components, manufactured by Raytheon Technologies (RTX), is expected to begin in 2026. The PAC-3 missiles, supplied by Lockheed Martin through the U.S. government, are expected to arrive in 2028 and 2029.
With this purchase, Switzerland became the 15th country to integrate the MSE version of the PAC-3 missile into its military defense infrastructure. The move underscores the country’s commitment to maintaining a strong defense posture.
In addition, the Air2030 program includes the acquisition of 36F-35 fighter jets, also from Lockheed Martin, for a total amount of 6 billion Swiss francs. This fleet will play a central role in modernizing Switzerland’s air defense capabilities and ensuring the security of the country’s airspace in an increasingly complex global security landscape.
The decision to modernize its air defense system with the latest available technology reflects Switzerland’s proactive approach to defense and security, aligning with international standards and strengthening its military preparedness for the future.
Raytheon’s Patriot missile is a surface-to-air missile system designed to detect, track, and intercept incoming enemy missiles or aircraft. The system is made up of several components that work together to provide comprehensive defense against airborne threats.
The Patriot missile system’s primary component is the radar system, which is capable of detecting and tracking incoming missiles or aircraft at long ranges. The radar system consists of three different radar sets: the AN/MPQ-53 phased array radar, the AN/MPQ-65 radar, and the AN/MPQ-64 Sentinel radar. These radar sets work together to provide 360-degree coverage, allowing the system to detect and track targets from any direction.
Once a target has been detected and tracked, the system’s command and control center determines the best course of action for intercepting the incoming threat. The command and control center sends this information to the launchers, which then fire the Patriot missiles.
The Patriot missile itself is a solid-fueled rocket that uses a guidance system to steer itself toward the target. The missile’s guidance system is designed to be highly accurate, allowing it to hit targets at great distances. The missile is equipped with a high-explosive warhead, which is designed to destroy incoming threats upon impact.
In a flight test on March 23, 2023, Lockheed Martin’s PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) successfully engaged and intercepted an advanced medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) target. The test was the first in a series of flight tests to validate software updates that will be deployed across fielded batteries as part of the next Patriot software release. “Software updates like this improve performance against evolving threats and are critical to ensuring PAC-3 MSE keeps our customers ahead of our adversaries,” said Brenda Davidson, vice president of PAC-3 Programs at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire C