Raytheon Company today released the following statement concerning the effectiveness of its Patriot air defense missile system during the recent Middle East war.
The company is taking this action in response to contrary testimony before Congressional committees, editorials in several major newspapers, and wire service and news articles that it believes have unfairly denigrated the performance of the system and their operational crews.
Raytheon firmly believes:
The entire statement may be attributed to Robert A. Skelly, vice president for public and financial relations. Tel: (617) 860-2041
Recent attempts to discredit tha performance of the Patriot defense system in both Saudi Arabia and Israel are inaccurate and do great disservice to the system and to the men and women of the United States Army who operated the system in combat.
Much of what has appeared in the media in this regard is based on unsubstantiated, incomplete or inaccurate information. This
type of misinformation has been repeated both during and after the conflict by individuals or organizations with their own specific agendas.
The fact is that Patriot performed extremely well. We believe that, in Saudi Arabia, just under 90 percent of Scud missile engagements resulted in destruction of the Scud's warhead. As a consequence, high priority military targets such as air bases, command and control centers, and civilian population centers were spared severe damage and heavy loss of life.
No defense system can guarantee 100 percent effectiveness. In Saudi Arabia, and in Israel, Patriot faced an unsophisticated but highly dangerous threat. Intercept and complete warhead destruction was made very difficult by the breakup of incoming Iraqi Scud missiles and by the velocities at which those missiles travelled.
The Patriot PAC-2 missile, the anti-tactical ballistic missile version, was designed to counter Soviet missiles which were compliant with the INF Treaty -- that is, with ranges less than 500 kilometers. The "Al-Hussein" Iraqi-modified Scuds, because of their greater range, were approaching target at velocities 50 percent higher than the Soviet treaty compliant Scud.
In addition, due to poor workmanship, Iraqi Scuds fired at Saudi Arabia and Israel began to break apart during the downward re-entry portion of their trajectories, at altitudes of 15 to 20 kilometers.
In order to deal with the breakup of the Scuds, and the multiple target tracks an radar which this breakup caused, rapid software changes were made to the Patriot system. These improvements helped to guide the missile to intercept the lethal Scud warhead amid the debris caused by breakup, and to accommodate the higher incoming velocity of the target.
As a result, Patriot in Saudi Arabia was not simply a "psychological weapon," it was a major military success story.
In Israel, about half of Scud engagements by Patriot resulted in confirmed destruction of the Scud warhead, as assessed by Israeli Defense Forces (IDF).
There are a number of reasons for the lower number of confirmed warhead "kills" in Israel:
Notwithstanding these conditions, Patriot provided a credible effective defense for Israel against a highly dangerous threat. Major loss of life among the civilian population was averted, and high-priority military targets were spared.
Assertions from some quarters that it would perhaps have been better to have avoided intercepts and simply allowed the Scuds to detonate in populated areas or on military targets are not only non-sensical, but are contradicted by actual events.
In Saudi Arabia, we have seen the casualties which result when a single Scud warhead, from a missile against which a Patriot missile was not launched, strikes a target, and, on April 20th, the Afghan town of Asadabad was reported struck by three Scud missiles fired by forces of the Kabul government. Approximately, 300 people were killed and between 500 and 700 injured, many badly burned by the raging fires started by the explosions.
These levels of casualties suggest that had the Israeli government been so irresponsible as to allow incoming missiles to detonate on the ground unopposed, the toll would have been staggering and the course of the Gulf war irrevocably altered.
Fortunately, Israeli courage and common sense prevailed.