The Department of the Army announced today the results of its review of the investigations pertaining to the Scud missile attack against Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, on February 25, 1991.
That evening a Scud missile impacted into a warehouse used by U.S. Forces as a barracks in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, killing 28 and wounding 98 U.S. Army soldiers.
Two investigations were initiated shortly after the attack. One focused on Patriot operations and the other on actions taken at the barracks that was attacked.
The investigation of Patriot operations concluded that an inexact computer software calculation is the most likely explanation as to why the battery did not effectively detect or track the incoming Scud. A similar problem of this nature was first documented on February 20 after analysis of an earlier Scud engagement. The four days of continuous operation by the battery, caused by increased day and night Scud activity, are thought to have compounded this software problem. Updated software fixing this problem and containing other improvements arrived at the battery's location on February 26.
The investigation of the barracks concluded that Scud attack procedures were properly followed. More specifically, upon warning of a potential Scud attack, soldiers had instructions to go inside or get under cover in either concrete bunkers or bomb shelters, if available, and to put on helmets and chemical protective gear. It was impossible to determine precisely how much warning time the soldiers had, but it appears that they were alerted approximately 30 seconds prior to the Scud's impact. Both U. S. and Saudi emergency medical response was timely.
The investigation of Patriot operations was conducted in theater by officers from the 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade. An independent technical review from the Patriot Project Office at Redstone Arsenal concurred with the findings of the investigation.
Six Patriot batteries were located in the Al Jubayl-Dhahran-Bahrain area. Two were positioned to engage this Scud missile. One of these batteries was out of action for repair of a radar receiver. The remaining battery was operational and prepared to engage an incoming Scud missile.
The operational battery was positioned to fire in the automatic mode against Scuds threatening an area surrounding the Dhahran air base. Scuds threatening outside of this protected area but within the Patriot's engagement capability could also have been engaged manually. The barracks was located in this manual engagement zone. Because the Scud was not effectively detected or tracked by the radar, engagement in the manual mode was precluded.
The investigation reconstructed the circumstances of the Scud attack and evaluated the possibility of Patriot hardware, software, or operator error.
Based on diagnostic checks conducted before and after the attack, hardware failure was ruled out. Operator error was also eliminated as a cause based on a review of Patriot crew procedures.
The Army deeply regrets the loss of life and extends its sympathy to the families of those who died or were injured.
For further infomation, contact Media Inquiry Branch, Army Public Affairs, Maj. Pete Keating, telephone (703) 697-7689.