Monday, November 29, 2004

Patriot Missiles

This weekend we learned via Jawed Naqvi in Dawn (Big US arms offer for India) that US has offered India Patriot Missiles (along with F16 fighter jets and P3C Orion Surveillance Planes) to balance their potentially supplying Pakistan with F16s.

Sounds intriguing. Indian defence planners have apparently even indicated interest in procuring the Patriot Missiles.

In this context, we are reminded of this February 2004 story on CBS' 60 Minutes (The Patriot Flawed?), which questioned the effectiveness of Patriot Missiles. We hope the issues raised here will be fully investigated before India agrees to purchase this missile system. We strongly favor Indo-US defence cooperation, but not a blind purchase of possibly ineffective military systems.

Relevant excerpts follow:

(Former Congressional investigator) Joseph Cirincione says the Army has known the Patriot had serious problems since at least 1991, when Congress appointed him to lead an investigation of the Patriot's performance in the first Gulf War, a performance that had looked spectacular on network news programs.

But it turns out, that wasn’t true. Almost none of the Patriots had worked. Some of them had failed to hit the incoming Scuds. Some had shot at missiles that didn't even exist. But most of them still exploded in the sky, leading everyone to believe they'd scored a kill, when in fact they hadn’t. “The best evidence that we found supports between two and four intercepts out of 44,” says Cirincione. “About a 10 percent success rate.” Cirincione said the Army responded angrily to his findings: “The Army insisted that they knew they had some problems with the Patriot, but it didn't serve any purpose to make these public. We would just be aiding the enemy. And that they would take care of it in the course of normal product improvement.”

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