Patriot missile defense systems reportedly will be deployed to Ukraine faster than originally planned.
CNN, quoting defense officials, reported the quicker-than-expected weaponry delivery, a message echoed earlier Tuesday about an earlier delivery date of Abrams tanks to Ukraine.
A group of 65 Ukrainian soldiers will soon complete their training on the systems at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, then head to Europe for additional training on the two Patriot systems that will be sent to Ukraine in the coming weeks, the officials said at Fort Sill, CNN reported.
The quick delivery comes as Ukraine preps for a spring offensive against Russian forces, built largely around the more powerful and more advanced systems Western countries have agreed to send, CNN reported.
The Ukraine soldiers have been training at Fort Sill since Jan. 15.
"Our assessment is that the Ukrainian soldiers are impressive, and absolutely a quick study," said Brig. Gen. Shane Morgan, the Fort Sill commander, CNN reported. "Due to their extensive air defense knowledge and experience in a combat zone, it was easier — though never easy — for them to grasp the Patriot System Operations and Maintenance concepts."
The Ukrainian troops training are men and women ranging in age from 19-67. Since arriving, their schedule has been "aggressive," a Fort Sill official told CNN, training daily from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The Patriot delivery was particularly welcomed.
"These systems don't pick up and move around the battlefield," retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, former commander of US Army Europe, told CNN previously. "You put them in place somewhere that defends your most strategic target, like a city, like Kyiv. If anyone thinks this is going to be a system that is spread across a 500-mile border between Ukraine and Russia, they just don't know how the system operates."
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