Technical debate over Patriot performance in the Gulf War

Jeremiah D. Sullivan, Dan Fenstermacher, Daniel Fisher, Ruth Howes, O'Dean Judd, Roger Speed, "Technical debate over Patriot performance in the Gulf War," Science & Global Security, 8, no. 1, (1999): 41-98.
The performance of the Patriot PAC-2 theater missile defense system in the Gulf War sparked a prolonged public debate of unprecedented proportions. We review the technical dimensions of the debate over Patriot, concentrating on the two official Army studies of Patriot performance and the analysis of Patriot performance carried out by two MIT scientists using video tapes taken by the commercial news media during the Gulf War. We find there is an absolute contradiction between the Army scores for Patriot performance during Gulf War for all engagements and the scores based on the video data. We analyze in detail all of the technical challenges raised against the video analysis and find these challenges largely wanting. We conclude that the video tapes contain important information about Patriot performance in the Gulf War, and that the Army should have made use of the video information in its studies of Patriot performance. We identify three lessons from the Patriot debate that are likely to be applicable in the future conflicts where high technology weapon systems are being introduced into combat for the first time. Our study does not cover other U.S. theater missile defense systems, such as Patriot PAC-3/ERINT and THAAD.

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