The MIM-104 Patriot SAM Series

The MIM-104 Patriot SAM Series Development

Full-scale development of the MIM-104 Patriot SAM Series started in 1976 in the US under the official designation XMIM-104A and in May 1976, it was named Patriot. Testing of the missile and the Patriot ground equipment continued through the late 1970s, and in October 1980, the first production contract for the MIM-104A Patriot missile was issued. In 1984, the Patriot finally reached Initial Operation Capability with its first U.S. Army units.

Components that make up the The MIM-104 Patriot SAM Series

All components, consisting of the fire control section (radar set, engagement control section, antenna mast group, electric power plant) and launchers, are truck- or trailer-mounted.

The MIM-104 Missile series

The MIM-104B – fielded in the late 1980s, its also known as the SOJC (Standoff Jammer Countermeasures) missile and uses a modified guidance and navigation hardware. The first PAC-1 systems were fielded in July 1988.

The MIM-104C – aka the PAC-2 upgrade includes further software changes. The MIM-104C has a blast-fragmentation warhead with larger fragments (45 g compared to 2 g for the MIM-104A/B warhead) to increase lethality against ballistic missile warheads. It also has a new pulse-doppler proximity fuse with two beams, a narrow one for missiles, and a broader one for slower aircraft targets.

The first test firing of the MIM-104C occurred in November 1987 and the first PAC-2 systems were delivered to the field in late 1990. It was both the 104B & C that were used during the Gulf War.

The MIM-104D – aka the  PAC-2/GEM (Guidance Enhanced Missile), it is a further improved MIM-104C. It has a seeker with better performance against low-RCS targets, and an improved fuse against high-speed ballistic missiles. The MIM-104D entered production in 1994.

The MIM-104F – aka the PAC-3 upgrade is a significant upgrade to nearly every aspect of the system. It took place in three stages, and units were designated Configuration 1, 2, or 3 based on the stage of upgrade they were in.

The system itself saw another upgrade of its WCC and its software, and the communication setup was given a complete overhaul. Due to this upgrade, PAC-3 operators can now see tracks on the Joint Tactical Information Distribution System (JTIDS), which greatly increases the situational awareness of Patriot crews.

Further Info

Designer Raytheon
Unit cost US$ 1 to 6 million
Number built over 8,600
Variants Standard, ASOJ/SOJC, PAC-2, PAC-2 GEM, GEM/C, GEM/T (or GEM+) and PAC-3

The MIM-104 Patriot SAM Series Specifications (PAC-1)

Weight 700 kg
Length 5,800 mm
Diameter 410 mm
Warhead M248 Composition B HE blast/fragmentation with two layers of pre-formed fragments and Octol 75/25 HE blast/fragmentation
Warhead weight 200 lb (90 kg)
Detonation mechanism Proximity fuze
Wingspan 920 mm (3 ft 0 in)
Propellant Solid-fuel rocket
Operational range
PAC – 1 :70 km
PAC – 2 :160 km
PAC – 3 :30 km
Flight altitude 79,500 feet (24,200 m)
Speed Mach 5.0
Guidance system Radio command with Track Via Missile semi-active homing
Launch platform mobile trainable four-round semi-trailer


United States
Kuwait – In August 2010, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced that Kuwait had formally requested to buy 209 MIM-104E missiles.
Republic of Korea (South Korea)
Saudi Arabia

As a teenage growing up through the Gulf War of 1991 (there has only ever been one Gulf War!) the most prominent memories I have is of watching on the BBC news service, the Patriot SAM’s shooting down the Scud tactical ballistic missiles fired by Iraq in to Israel and seeing the explosion in mid air against the dark night sky.

It was the hope of the former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein that the IDF would join the War and as a result the Arab nations contributing to the coalition attacking Iraq would fall to bits. But thanks to the Patriot, this never happened.