Why purchased from the United States missile defense system did not save the oil installations of Saudi Arabia from attack

Saudi Arabia could not repel the attack on the oil facilities, despite the presence of modern American anti-missile systems.

Почему купленные у США системы ПРО не спасли нефтяные объекты Саудовской Аравии от атаки

Photo: Depositphotos

U.S. Secretary of state Michael Pompeo, making a visit to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, told reporters that “anti-aircraft systems around the world do not always operate successfully.”

“Even the best in the world always take [missiles]” — he replied to a journalist’s question about how could modern radars miss cruise missiles.

In the words of the Secretary has not made a specific system name can not cope with the interception, but in the world press took it as recognition that we are talking about the American Patriot, which are in service with the Saudi air defense.

How the air defense system in Saudi Arabia

The air defense system of Saudi Arabia includes a us radar long-range and medium-range as well as the system of medium-range Patriot and THAAD strategic long range that are also equipped with radar.

Почему купленные у США системы ПРО не спасли нефтяные объекты Саудовской Аравии от атаки

Photo: Depositphotos

In addition, in the Arsenal is obsolete artillery anti-aircraft gun Oerlikon GDF middle range.

It is not known which of these systems were closed systems, which was inflicted air strike.

Why wouldn’t it work Patriot?

Armed with Saudi Arabia’s MIM-104 Patriot PAC last modification 3.

This system is a modern means of defense, which is intended to cover the objects (but not areas), intercepting ballistic missiles, aircraft and cruise missiles, the latter, in this case, is not his main “specialty”.

This complex is more suited for destruction of ballistic missiles — and proved it by knocking down back in 1991, several dozen Iraqi “Scud”.

Saudi military says in recent years, successfully intercepted several ballistic missiles, and at least one drone.

Ballistic missiles, which fly at relatively predskazuemo path, a much easier target than a cruise missile or a drone — the first, maneuvering, and secondly, moving at relatively low altitude and are difficult to detect by radar.

The fact is that because of the curvature of the Earth’s surface, low-flying target ground-based radar is seen at a distance of only several tens of kilometers. The Patriot radar is designed to track and support high-altitude targets.

The situation can be corrected only by using aircraft radar, but to control it you need to always keep in the air.

Building a missile defense, the Saudis are prepared to attacks with ballistic missiles or private drones, which they were more or less easy to intercept.

But there was something else.

Mixed impact

In January 2018, the Director of the Missile defense project of the Center for strategic and international studies (Center for Strategic and International Studies) Thomas Karako said in an interview with Breakingdefense that the us concept of missile defence is absolutely not suitable against modern threats.

“The problem is the mixing of threatened or integrated impact — not just ballistic or cruise missiles or drones, but all together. In this case the cruise missiles will break through the defenses against ballistic and Vice versa,” said Karako, who co-authored a major report on “Distributed protection”, dedicated to this issue.

In the report much was said about the threats to the United States from China, Russia, North Korea, is actively developing new weapons systems.

The attack on the two fields of the state company Saudi Aramco has made 25 drones and cruise missiles, said on the eve of the official representative of the Ministry of defense of Saudi Arabia Turki al-Malki.

It is obvious that the mixing of different types of impact tools has become the key to the success of the attack.

As told bi-Bi-si senior research fellow, center for comprehensive European and international studies Vasily Kashin, the reason that the Saudis do not have systems that can deal with low-flying targets, was the strategy of the us defense Department made in the 1990s, a bet on the fight of a tall order, no longer actively develop the tactical missile and artillery complexes.

In the Arsenal of the Saudi gunners have such a complex small-caliber antiaircraft artillery systems in Germany Oerlikon GDF.

But systems such as Kashin explains, needs to be in constant readiness.

“If you are preparing to repel sudden attack cruise missiles, you have to consider the fact that since the appearance of the target before opening fire can be a matter of minutes. Because you will not see this goal earlier than minutes before it attacks you. Accordingly, you, waiting for this attack, should keep the battery “Arlekino” in constant combat readiness,” — said the expert.

In any case, one of the tasks Pompeo in the middle East to investigate the strike and try to understand what you need to do to make sure this never happened again. “We want to make sure that resources and infrastructure are in place so that such strikes were less successful than the one that occurred,” he said.


Another reason why the RAID on the oil facilities were successful was that the missile defense system was not ready to attack from a certain direction of light.

Saudi air defense was sent to the South, expecting a blow from the Yemen, but in reality, drones and missiles came from the South of Iran closer to the Northern shore of the Persian Gulf. This was stated by official representative of the Ministry of defense of Saudi Arabia Turki al-Malki, promising eventually to provide all the necessary evidence.

The Patriot system is designed so that it is important which side is approaching the goal, said Bi-bi-si, the expert of the Russian Council on international Affairs Alexander Ermakov.

“The Patriot system uses an inclined launcher, rather than vertical, for example, in Russian it is antiaircraft-rocket complexes. On the one hand, simplifies the defeat of targets in that direction, but it is desirable that the target was in that direction, because it turns [interceptor missile] quite slowly” — said Ermakov.

To calculate the areas that are covered with missile defense systems, he said, relatively not difficult — well it was enough to just visually explore the surroundings of the oil plant. “Either the Houthis or Iran could well-planned attack, because they have, perhaps, in those places there are agents,” — said the expert.