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[P]
Cohen says, "Patriot didn't work"

By SbooX in MLP
Sun Jan 14, 2001 at 02:15:15 PM EST
Tags: News (all tags)
News

Current U.S. Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen said on January 10, 2001 that "the Patriot didn't work." Cohen was referring to the Patriot missile which was used during the Persian Gulf War as defense against Iraqi Scud missile attacks. Raytheon, who designed the Patriot missile, is sticking to their story of high success rates in the Gulf War. They continue to claim a 70 percent success rate in Saudi Arabia and 40 percent in Israel. Raytheon and U.S. government had originally claimed that all but one Scud missiles launched against Israel and Saudi Arabia had been shot down by Patriots. Cohen is now "the highest-ranking government official to say the Patriot failed.


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Cohen says, "Patriot didn't work" | 27 comments (20 topical, 7 editorial, 0 hidden)
I remember this... (2.33 / 6) (#6)
by pb on Sun Jan 14, 2001 at 01:58:06 AM EST

I heard about this for about a week, some time after the Gulf War--then it was silenced.

Chalk up another one for the Republicans, at least they know how to control their media...
---
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall

Funny Coincidence or Media Conspiracy (3.00 / 1) (#15)
by el_chicano on Sun Jan 14, 2001 at 03:34:21 PM EST

Chalk up another one for the Republicans, at least they know how to control their media..
I missed this story the first time around (thanks for the link, pb). I went to read it and when I clicked on the link to the story in the SF Examiner.

Lo and behold, the web page said "We're sorry ... During our transition some links are not active. We are working to update them as soon as possible." Maybe there IS a vast right-wing media conspiracy going on!

[ Parent ]
Oh man... (3.00 / 1) (#16)
by pb on Sun Jan 14, 2001 at 04:19:48 PM EST

That's frightening. I had two links in that story, I believe. Is the other one active?

At least you should be able to tell what it's all about from the context. I hope...
---
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
[ Parent ]
Voted (0) by accident. (4.00 / 4) (#9)
by i on Sun Jan 14, 2001 at 02:39:28 AM EST

Nevermind. Anyway, with little luck, Patriot can hit its target. The problem is, it often doesn't detonate the target's payload and, say, just chops the engine off. The warhead is still going to land somewhere and cause damage. So Scud shot down != Scud destroyed. The 40% figure may reflect this fact.

and we have a contradicton according to our assumptions and the factor theorem

Its a gun with the barrel pointing backwards (4.00 / 3) (#10)
by itsbruce on Sun Jan 14, 2001 at 06:47:42 AM EST

Anyway, with little luck, Patriot can hit its target

If its target is a stone age weapon like the Scud.

The problem is, it often doesn't detonate the target's payload and, say, just chops the engine off. The warhead is still going to land somewhere and cause damage.

Gravity being gravity, "somewhere" is actually a place pretty much under the point where the Patriot hit it. Since Patriots can only hit a target that is almost directly overhead - and since the Patriot missile sites were set up in defensive rings around towns - having a Patriot hit its target is often worse than it missing, since it brings the warhead right down on top of you.

Since Patriots launch almost straight upwards, if they do miss they come almost straight back down again. Given that Patriots have a habit of launching themselves at random, if you put a ring of Patriots round my town I am going to move out. It was quite obvious, if you watched the footage carefully, that that barracks was hit by a Patriot falling back to earth, probably having launched itself in error.


--

It is impolite to tell a man who is carrying you on his shoulders that his head smells.
[ Parent ]
Yes to all (4.00 / 4) (#11)
by i on Sun Jan 14, 2001 at 07:25:47 AM EST

except I think the Patriot falling back thing (it should self-destruct if it misses), and the Patriot launches itself at random thing (a team of humans launches it). I've got a chance to watch them much more closely than I ever wanted so I should know. The main conclusion stands however -- cities are better off without them. Compact military installations may or may not be protected by Patriots well.

and we have a contradicton according to our assumptions and the factor theorem

[ Parent ]
IIRC (3.00 / 2) (#12)
by itsbruce on Sun Jan 14, 2001 at 09:15:22 AM EST

There were cases reported of Patriots launcing themselves.


--

It is impolite to tell a man who is carrying you on his shoulders that his head smells.
[ Parent ]
Do you have any proof? (2.50 / 4) (#13)
by DAldredge on Sun Jan 14, 2001 at 12:06:51 PM EST

I can say the red=green but that does not make it true. Do you have ANY proof?

The word is American, not USian.
American \A*mer"i*can\, n. A native of America; -- originally applied to the aboriginal inhabitants, but now applied to the descendants of Europeans born in America, and especially to the citizens of the US
[ Parent ]
OK (4.00 / 2) (#17)
by itsbruce on Sun Jan 14, 2001 at 04:30:10 PM EST

Try here and then have a look at this , the Evaluation of U.S. Army Assessment of Patriot Antitactical Missile Effectiveness in the War Against Iraq, prepared for the House Government Operations Subcommittee on Legislation and National Security April 7, 1992. This bit in particular refers to what you ask about.

I'm not a gossip-monger and I wouldn't have said it in the first place if I didn't have some pretty clear recollections of the original coverage.

Now, you had something to prove about colours?


--

It is impolite to tell a man who is carrying you on his shoulders that his head smells.
[ Parent ]
Ok... (1.00 / 3) (#18)
by DAldredge on Sun Jan 14, 2001 at 04:57:19 PM EST

But I can moderate people up even when the disagree with me, unlike someone who moderates posts to 2 that the DISAGREE with!

The word is American, not USian.
American \A*mer"i*can\, n. A native of America; -- originally applied to the aboriginal inhabitants, but now applied to the descendants of Europeans born in America, and especially to the citizens of the US
[ Parent ]
I rated you a 3... (none / 0) (#25)
by itsbruce on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 01:07:54 PM EST

and that was generous, considering your attitude.


--

It is impolite to tell a man who is carrying you on his shoulders that his head smells.
[ Parent ]
Ballistics (4.00 / 2) (#22)
by davidduncanscott on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 09:52:10 AM EST

Gravity being gravity, "somewhere" is actually a place pretty much under the point where the Patriot hit it.

Well, no, actually -- the bits will fall in an arc, not straight down.

I agree, however, that for a ballistic missle this is an unacceptable approach, and if the Patriot had been designed as an ABM I would be very disappointed in it. The fact is that it was designed as an SAM, and for a SAM this performance is very good.

Remember that when aircraft become ballistic objects it's a Very Bad Thing, especially from the POV of the pilot. SCUDs on final, OTOH, are already ballistic, and therefore can only be bumped a little off what passes for target, maybe into the suburbs instead of downtown, maybe not even that. Hell, maybe the reverse.

The scary thing to me is not that the Patriot performed badly in a role for which it was never intended, but that the US had nothing better for the task. The choice was not "Patriot or System B", it was "Patriot or we just stand around and watch the damned things fall". Which would you have done? How would you have answered the inevitable question, "Why didn't you even try?"

[ Parent ]

Pretty much (none / 0) (#24)
by itsbruce on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 01:06:25 PM EST

Well, no, actually -- the bits will fall in an arc, not straight down.

Which is why I said "pretty much" - one of the effects a Patriot has on a Scud is to kill most of its forward momentum.

How would you have answered the inevitable question, "Why didn't you even try?"

Doing things which actually put people in greater danger and telling them that they are safer is worse than a cop-out. They'd have done better to do nothing and lie about that.


--

It is impolite to tell a man who is carrying you on his shoulders that his head smells.
[ Parent ]
This is in line with the industry's needs (3.60 / 5) (#14)
by untrusted user on Sun Jan 14, 2001 at 01:43:11 PM EST

Don't get too excited about government officials "admitting" the thing didn't work. This is just the beginning of the campaign to get some billions for the next generation of "antimissile technology". The Military-Industrial Complex is still working fine.

Business as usual (none / 0) (#19)
by Brandybuck on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 01:21:51 AM EST

In one week the Democrats leave the executive branch of the US government, and the Republicans step in. Democrats didn't like starwars under Reagon or Bush. They still won't like it under Bush Jr. And the Patriot missile came out of Star Wars research.

Methinks this is just a political play to keep the Republicans from reinstituting a strategic defense initiative. Think about it. This information was known for two Clinton administrations. Why announce this now, on the last week?

Political ploy (none / 0) (#21)
by aphrael on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 05:11:24 AM EST

It's unlikely that this is a political ploy --- Cohen is a *Republican*; he was a GOP Senator from Maine before he was named Secretary of Defense.

[ Parent ]
Only ONE Scud got through? (none / 0) (#20)
by jethro on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 03:43:37 AM EST

What the heck? I don't know how they could even pretend that was ever true.

I lived in Israel during the Gulf war, and believe me, more than one Scud got through. You could clearly hear them hit, plus I personally saw the damage a few of them caused.

As for Patriot missiles. Well, the Patriot, as far as I understand, is an Anti-Aircraft missile. Shooting down an airplane and shooting down a missile are two completely different things. Maybe that's why it didn't work? I think to blow up an airplane you actually hit it and then explode. But if you do that to a missile you still get the warhead falling down, and a bunch of missle fuel spilling all over the place...

I know at least one Patriot actually landed in a highschool a friend of mine was going to. We scored some really cool solid rocketfuel. Man did that stuff ever burn nicely.

--
In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is kinky.
The story was to keep Israel out of the war (none / 0) (#26)
by jbuck on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 02:22:05 PM EST

The claim that the Patriot was wildly successful was a lie with a purpose: to give Israeli politicians cover to keep Israel out of the war. The reason was that it would be politically impossible for Saudi Arabia to be on the same side of the war as Israel. If Israel entered the war, Saudi Arabia would have to expel the US troops and Iraq would win, but the Israeli public was demanding action. Solution: pretend you have a magic bullet. This way the Israeli politicians could act in the interest of the country (by letting the US wipe out the Iraqis) without outraging the public.

I strongly suspect that the folks at CNN were quietly told to shut up. I remember a brief story from a reporter that saw a crater from a missile when allegedly no missiles got through, but then there was no followup and we never heard about this again.

Of course, the problem with a lie is that you have to keep telling it, and as it's highly profitable to Raytheon and other defense contractors, it's hard to kill.

[ Parent ]

Re: The story was to keep Israel out of the war (none / 0) (#27)
by jethro on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 06:13:51 PM EST

> The claim that the Patriot was wildly successful was a
> lie with a purpose: to give Israeli politicians cover to
> keep Israel out of the war

Um. That can't be right - Israeli media had no problem reporting Scud strikes. They were just forbidden from reveiling the exact location they hit for security reasons.

It was absolutely no secret in Israel that Scuds were getting through.


--
In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is kinky.
[ Parent ]
Heh... (none / 0) (#23)
by trhurler on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 11:56:23 AM EST

Well, I don't have any classified information on Patriot, and lots of info on it IS classified, but I can say this. There were software glitches in the Patriot units up until 92-93 that prevented them from being as accurate as they were designed to be. These days, they're a whole lot more accurate. You could probably shoot down a large air to air missile with Patriot now if you had enough lead time(say, if it was a medium range missile 75 miles out from target.)

Here's the good part, though - the software glitches were timing errors. Nobody ever spotted them before 91, because against aircraft, the system worked "well enough" that it did its job. Only when deployed against missiles did the errors become evident, and then it took time to fix and test and so on.

The only more successful antimissile weapon in the world is the Israeli Arrow system, and it is as yet untested in a number of real world situations. It also was developed much more recently, using better technology(our technology, I might add; we give Israel a lot of things like that:) Odds are you'll be seeing a lot more of this sort of thing in the next couple of decades.

(For all you Aegis fans, yes, the phalanx guns can shoot down missiles, in theory, but let's wait until they actually do so reliably in a real battle before we brag too much...)

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

Cohen says, "Patriot didn't work" | 27 comments (20 topical, 7 editorial, 0 hidden)
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