Commander of the Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) General Charles Brown has stated in an interview with Aviation Week that he is interested in equipping US military bases across the Indo-Pacific region with laser weapons powered by "a small nuclear reactor" to better protect them from aerial attacks. The general suggested that such systems may be more effective than "larger and heavier interceptor-based systems", such as Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) or Patriot systems.
The latter's reputation recently suffered a blow after the much vaunted system failed to avert the devastating attack of missiles and drones on Saudi Aramco oil refineries on 14 September. The US reacted to the incident by deploying an additional battalion of Patriots to Saudi Arabia.
However, Israeli air defence systems engineer Uzi Rubin indicated in an interview with the Defence News media outlet that the systems are ineffective against such attacks because the targets were moving below the horizon, rendering them undetectable to Patriot radars. He argued that proper local defences, consisting of for example Russian Pantsir S1 (NATO reporting name SA-22 Greyhound) systems with dual 2A38M 30 millimetre automatic cannons equipped with infrared direction finders, would be able to fill such a "gap".
Earlier, a source in the Russian Defence Ministry stated that the Patriots failed to repel the attack, which halved Saudi crude output for days, because of their low efficiency. The source added that the Patriot system’s declared specifications may not match its real capabilities, judging by their efficiency in the 14 September incident.