Raytheon's Response to WGBH FRONTLINE

"Gulf War"

The segments on the Patriot missile system's performance in Israel during the Gulf War included in the WGBH World Wide Web site (Internet) FRONTLINE material are inaccurate, incomplete and misleading. This type of inaccurate and unbalanced reporting is not what the viewing public should expect from WGBH.

The true story of Patriot's performance in countering tactical ballistic missiles during Desert Storm is far more complicated and complex than WGBH's one-sided version, but one simple truth emerges from the totality of available evidence - the truth of a major success story in countering, for the first time in history, hostile wartime attacks on civilian population areas from tactical ballistic missiles. Based upon detailed U.S. Army assessments of Patriot's intercept success, assessments which include far more supporting data than is normally collected in the middle of a war, the overall success rate was greater than 60 percent. This figure is the composite of a greater than 70 percent success rate in Saudi Arabia and more than 40 percent in Israel.

From a strategic perspective Patriot denied Saddam Hussein any significant success with his most touted weapon. He didn't draw Israel into the war, he didn't split apart the Multinational Coalition and he didn't break the political will to continue. The coalition won the war in record time and with minimal casualties. And from a human perspective, Patriot reduced the potential damage to civilian property and lives far below that which could be expected without a defense.

Patriot is today the only air defense weapon system in the world than can do what was done in the Gulf War and Patriot will retain that uniqueness for most, if not all, of this decade. The Army's established Patriot growth programs will carry Patriot's technological edge against tactical ballistic missiles, as well as advanced aircraft and cruise missiles, well into the next century. Virtually everybody, including even the most ardent critics of Patriot, support these improvements.

The following sections specifically address the reporting biases, numerous factual errors and misleading information contained in the WGBH Internet material.

Unbalanced and Incomplete Reporting

The FRONTLINE program Internet material concerning Patriot's Gulf War performance does not represent a balanced story of what actually happened. Experts with detailed knowledge of the Patriot system and its performance were never interviewed. Those that were interviewed had only superficial knowledge of the Patriot system and/or had their own agendas. Little attention was paid to Patriot's performance in Saudi Arabia, where Patriot the success rate was considerably higher than that in Israel.

Had a balanced account of Patriot's performances in the Gulf War been presented, it would have included the following:

  • Positive public statements made by high level government officials, including officials in both Israel and Saudi Arabia, were ignored by FRONTLINE. Prince Bandar Bin Sultan Bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia said "It's very nice and very easy to be [a critic] 8000 miles away in an air conditioned office, but ask me. I was there and the most beautiful sight in the world that I have ever seen in my life was that Patriot streaking across the capital of Saudi Arabia hitting those SCUDs...Don't listen to people who think they are playing video games. That was no game."

    General Uri Ram (retired), who commanded the Patriot units in Israel during the war, was quoted in an interview as saying, "[Critics of Patriot] have branded engagement success figures - as assessed by the U.S. Army and supported by the Israeli defense force and the Saudi Arabian military - as a total distortion of what actually happened high over Dhahran, Riyadh, Tel Aviv and Haifa. Let's get the record straight. Patriot was a success, but it wasn't perfect. ...Patriot was of enormous strategic significance and helped save lives in Israel from SCUD attacks..."

  • In Israel the U.S. Army Patriot units and their crews were under the command of and deployed by Israeli air defense authorities who had never been trained on the operation and use of the Patriot system. Israeli Patriot crews had only completed half their training and had never actually fired a missile. Nowhere was it mentioned that Patriot was deployed in positions not optimized for defense of Israeli urban areas relative to Iraqi SCUD trajectories. In addition, Patriot operations, rather than using the fast response automatic procedures optimized in the system software, were placed under significantly slower manual control and were then changed virtually on a nightly basis by Israeli authorities against the advice of U.S. Army officials. In spite of all those difficulties, however, Patriot was successful in over 40 percent of the SCUD engagements in Israel. In contrast, in Saudi Arabia, Patriot was commanded and operated by highly trained U.S. Army soldiers who deployed and positioned their fire units consistent with U.S. Army doctrine for maximum effectiveness against Iraqi SCUDS launched against them. No experimentation of this established doctrine was attempted in Saudi Arabia. This perspective on the experience in Israel, the differences between what happened there and what occurred in Saudi Arabia and the resulting differences in success rates was never presented by WGBH.

  • No information was included from the U.S. Army's testimony regarding Patriot performance at the April 7, 1992 Congressional Hearing. This Hearing is a matter of public record and documents a very positive assessment of the Patriot system by the U.S. soldiers that were there. In response to the testimony, Congressman Horton (R-NY) stated that "I believe the Patriot's performance was superb. I believe it saved lives. I believe its psychological and actual impact on the enemy was immense."

  • No statements, interviews or testimony were included from the men and women of the U.S. Army who operated the Patriot or from those who were provided protection by Patriot in the Gulf. The verdict of these ground witnesses, in a position to judge for themselves, has been overwhelmingly positive.

  • All that was presented were the views or opinions of critics - some of whom have an interest in painting a perceived picture of Patriot failure. Moshe Arens, former Defense Minister of Israel, fully understands that acknowledging Patriot's success could interfere with the perceived need for the Israeli Arrow anti-missile development program. With severe defense funding shortages and with Israel currently owning three Patriot fire units (and having requested three more), a demonstrated successful Patriot anti-tactical ballistic missile capability could raise the issue of why Arrow and its associated billions of dollars of required funding. In contrast, negative Patriot performance claims can clearly be used to support the need for continued funding for Arrow development. As reported by Reuters, Defense Secretary William Perry has just recently stated that the United States would give Israel another $200 million for the Arrow development, bringing to over $600M the amount provided by the United States for the Arrow development. Full program cost including development, production and deployment are estimated to be $5 Billion(1). Therefore, there is much at stake in creating a negative perception of Patriot's performance in Israel.

    Incorrect and Misleading Information

    Erroneous basic information was presented by WGBH on the Patriot system "Description", "Assignment in Gulf War", "Performance During the Gulf War" and "Interview" segments. These many numerical and factual inaccuracies are summarized below:

  • A number of characteristics of both the Patriot system and the target SCUD were incorrectly described by WGBH's choice of "experts", raising doubts about the validity of the whole article. Factual errors in the Patriot "Description" segment include the detection range of the Patriot radar as well as the intercept range of the Patriot missile. The number of Patriot missiles per fire unit was incorrect by an order of magnitude. WGBH should have proofread and substantiated its information. The "Assignment in Gulf War" segment describing the number of missiles fired against a SCUD is incorrect and reflects the author's lack of understanding of basic air defense operations. The reported Patriot and SCUD closing velocity clearly shows a lack of understanding of the kinematics of the Patriot-SCUD confrontations. The fact that such information was reported without a review by knowledgeable experts is inexcusable. WGBH should have taken the time to contact those with complete technical understanding of the Patriot system, e.g., the U.S. Army and Raytheon Co.. Rather WGBH's decision to consult Navy, Air Force and Marine personnel with no first-hand knowledge of the system and only hearsay technical understanding is in excusable.
    (1) Forecast International/DMS Market Intelligence Report, April, 1995

  • The Patriot "Performance During the Gulf War" segment incorrectly stated that the House Government Operations Subcommittee on Legislation and National Security "concluded there was little evidence to prove the Patriot hit more than a few SCUD missiles launched by Iraq." The fact is that no such report was ever approved or released by the Subcommittee. A draft report, as prepared by a majority staffer working for the subcommittee was not supported by the full bi-partisan Subcommittee because of its obvious bias and misrepresentation of the subcommittee's full investigation and hearing. Rather than risk its defeat in a vote for acceptance, the Chairman never submitted it to a vote, was therefore never approved, and therefore does not represent a congressional committee's findings.

  • The General Accounting Office (GAO) report did not state that Patriot had only a 9% success rate and did not dispute the U.S. Army's overall 60% success rate. The GAO did in fact analyze the Army's assessment of Patriot performance during the war, but focused only on the highest confidence level warhead kills. Not stated by the article was the fact that the GAO did not establish any success rates at variance with the Army's. Specifically, the GAO report never voiced any disagreement with the Army's overall assessment that Patriot was successful in over 70 percent of the SCUD engagements in Saudi Arabia and over 40 percent in Israel. In its assessment of Patriot performance, the Army analysis subdivided Patriot intercept successes into "warhead kills" and "mission kills." It then further subdivided each of these categories into "confidence levels" based upon how much supporting data was available. In the GAO analysis, the GAO further subdivided the Army's "high confidence" warhead kills subdivision into two further subdivisions or "sub-categories." The upper category of this GAO subdivision contained "the strongest evidence that an engagement resulted in a warhead kill." It consisted of cases where recovered SCUD pieces contained "Patriot fragments or fragment holes" or radar data were preserved that showed "SCUD debris in the air following a Patriot detonation." About one third of the Army assessed highest confidence warhead kills (representing 25% of the overall engagements), or 9% of the total engagements, fell into this top part of the Army's upper category. As can be seen from the GAO report, the GAO did not say that Patriot only killed 9% of its targets nor did they say that all of the other categories of Patriot intercept success were invalid. Rather, they simply subdivided the Army's highest confidence level kills into two arbitrary subcategories, the highest of which accounted for 9% of the total engagements and contained those shots for which the supporting data provided the absolutely strongest evidence.

  • The Patriot "Performance During the Gulf War" segment also makes the blatantly false statement that "In Israel, the amount of damages and casualties increased after the Patriots were deployed there." No facts are presented to substantiate this claim. Data available in public literature indicates that both major property damage and casualties were reduced by an amount not inconsistent with Patriot's assessed 40% success rate in Israel.
                                                                                                       No. of
                No. of                                        No. of                                   Severely
                Missiles                         No. of       Severely                  Destroyed      Damaged
                in Patriot   No. of   No. of     Destroyed    Damaged      Casualties   Apartments     Apartments
    Cities      Zones        Deaths   Injuries   Apartments   Apartments   per Missile  per Missile    per Missile
                Before Patriot Arrived
    Tel Aviv    6-8            0        115          91          422        19.2-14.4   15.2-11.4       74-53
                After Patriot Arrived
    Tel Aviv     18            1        174         117          861            9.7        6.5           48
                                            Reduction After Patriot           50%-33%    57%-43%      35%-10%

  • The interview segment with Brig. Gen. Bernard Trainor (USMC Ret.) demonstrates that he obviously does not understand the basics of the Patriot system. Trainor incorrectly states that "The Patriot missiles were going after the hottest part of the incoming SCUD, which was the tail, and would blow up in proximity to the tail and blow up that part of the SCUD, but the payload which was the warhead was on the front of the SCUD." Patriot is not a heat seeking missile but a semi-active radar guided missile. Therefore the temperature of the target is never even sensed by the Patriot missile and has no impact on the Patriot missile aim point. Again, a simple check of Trainor's statement with knowledgeable experts would have prevented such inaccurate statements.

  • In the interview segment with "analyst" Rick Atkinson, he accepts without analysis Moshe Arens negative assessment of Patriot's performance. Moshe Arens, the Israeli Defense Minister during the war, stated during his meeting with President Bush on February 11, 1991, that only 20 percent of the SCUDs that were attacked by Patriot were destroyed. What was stated by Arens does not consider subsequent Patriot engagements that occurred after February 11, 1991, but is implied in the context of the WGBH program to be an assessment of the entire war. The U.S. Army evaluation is consistent with the statement by Arens at the time he made it, if one considers the very significant differences in evaluation criteria used by the U.S. and Israel. Lacking from the WGBH account are these important differences, which provide some insight into the Israeli statements:

    1. All Patriot units (even U.S. Army units) in Israel were under Israeli engagement control, and, in violation of U.S. Army procedures the systems were operated manually versus the more effective automatic engagement mode. If a Patriot operator manually decided or was directed not to engage a SCUD that he could have, and it fell and caused damage, that non-engagement was scored by Israel as a Patriot system failure. The U.S. Army did not consider this a Patriot system failure but rather, assessed it as a "not engageable, since the decision to not engage was made external to the system and would not have happened had the system been operated under U.S. approved proceedures.

    2. If a SCUD was intercepted by Patriot, deflected from its path and did not cause damage, such a "Mission Kill" as scored by the U.S. Army was not credited to Patriot by the Israelis. Only warhead kills were assessed by Israel as "successes", even though the mission kills clearly prevented damage and casualties.

    3. The presence of any collateral damage within a targeted urban area, such as that due to falling post-intercept debris, would cause the intercept to not be credited as a success by the Israelis.

    Considering these differences in scoring criteria, as of February 11 (not counting SCUDs intercepted in the evening of the day of Aren's interview) the U.S. Army scoring was consistent with the very restrictive Israeli scoring.


    As to the critics, including WGBH, who claim Patriot never worked, the best response is to direct their attention to the actions of the governments of Israel, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait after the war. Each of these countries -- the very ones which still live under the threat of ballistic missile attack, saw the potential destruction these weapons can create and also saw up close the human benefits of having a defense that works -- acquired additional Patriot fire units after the war as the foundation of their air and missile defense. These countries understand first hand the effectiveness of Patriot, its ability to be easily integrated with their existing air defenses and the piece of mind provided from knowing that the U.S. government and U.S. industry will continue to improve the system in the light of changing threats and provide continued logistics support for the life of the system. The threat is real and Patriot is the only system in the world that counters this threat with effective and lasting protection.

    These facts were not included in the Patriot segments because they are inconveniently at odds with what appears to have been the central premise of the WGBH program -- the "debunking" of the so-called "myths" and icons of the Gulf War. It also seems probable that, in sharing their biased conclusion that Patriot did not work with a national and international audience, the producers are doing their best to provide tacit support and credibility to foreign governments, individuals or organizations with their own agendas who have argued from the beginning that U.S. defenses against tactical ballistic missiles are impractical, unwise or not in their national interest.

    We are disappointed with WGBH's inaccurate, incomplete, and biased reporting and believe that the public expects fairer and more balanced reporting from PBS.

    Suggested Reading: "Correspondence, Patriot Experience in the Gulf War" by Robert M.
    Stein, International Security, Summer 1992 (Vol. 17, No.1)

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