The U.S. Army had two important Patriot initiatives underway in 2013 – “Pure Fleet” and “Grow the Army.” Pure Fleet involves upgrading all its tactical fire units to Configuration-3, Patriot’s most advanced version. And Grow the Army adds two battalions to the force structure, providing greater flexibility and more assets to meet air and missile defense requirements.
PATRIOT is not an acronym, though it is at times incorrectly expanded to mean Phased Array Tracking to Intercept Of Target. The Patriot can be transported worldwide via C-5 cargo plane. Built in diagnostic software; the computer tells you what's wrong with the system, making maintenance and repair much easier. Patriot battalions can interface with Hawk battalions and with the Air Force AWACS.
Patriot has completed well over 2,500 target search and track tests during the entire range of its performance envelope. In addition, over 500 missile firings have demonstrated Patriot's performance against the full range of tactical ballistic and cruise missiles. From the time production began in 1980 through 2003, over 170 Patriot fire units and over 9,000 missiles have been delivered. Patriot is deployed by the United States, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the Netherlands, Japan, Israel, Taiwan and Greece. An international industry team of over 4,000 suppliers and subcontractors support the Patriot air defense system.
Modern production methods have proven effective in maintaining a production reliability of over 10 times the required specification. Reliability of Patriot systems deployed worldwide (measured in "mean- time- between- failure") remains over twice the required system specification. U.S. Army operational availability has been consistently over 95 percent.
Patriot Advanced Capability Phase 2 (PAC-2) was fielded in January 1991. A demonstrated anti-tactical ballistic missile capability was exploited in 1990 following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait when the U.S. Army rapidly directed PAC-2 tactical ballistic missile upgrades into production and deployment to Southwest Asia and Israel. Patriot performance against Iraqi SCUD missile attacks was seemed impressive at first, even though these SCUD missiles exceeded Patriot's design threat. Patriot success was initially believed to be over 70 percent in Saudi Arabia and over 40 percent in Israel [later these figures were reduced]. Public statements made by Congressman John Conyers and M.I.T. Professor Theodore Postol both suggested that Raytheon "misrepresented" the Patriot's Gulf War performance.
Improvements Based on Lessons Learned from the Gulf War "Quick Response" Program 1992: A radar shroud reduced interference and improved radar multifunction performance. A low-noise receiver was added to improve detection range. North-finding and global positioning systems were added to reduce system emplacement times. Remote launch modifications allowed launchers to be placed up to 10 kilometers from the control station, expanding Patriot's defended area.
In 2003 U.S. and coalition Patriot units were deployed throughout the CENTCOM region to protect forces and populations from the threat of ballistic missiles. The improvements, developed and fielded since 1991, reflected the enhanced capabilities of Patriot to protect against threats to both static assets and forces in the attack. The Configuration 3 Ground Equipment, GEM+, GEM and PAC-3 missiles were all combat-proven. Patriot had two fratricides in Iraq, one against a British RAF Tornado GR4A, the other against an F/A-18 Hornet . The Tornado was engaged because the system mistakenly classified it as an anti-radiation missile (ARM), which is a threat typically engaged automatically by the system. The other fratricide, on an F/A-18 Hornet, was a Patriot system and operator error resulting from a misclassified TBM. The system engaged the Hornet automatically after the software, in conjunction with the Patriot radar, incorrectly classified the aircraft as a TBM.
In December 2017 the Patriot Missile Defense System failed five times to intercept a Houthi missile, which travelled almost 1000 km and nearly struck the heart of the Kingdom in the capital city of Riyadh. The missile may have merely broke apart due to sheer speed and force. The warhead of the missile did indeed strike and detonated about 19 km from the rest of the debris, as the deadly warhead flew right over the missile defence system. The explosion was about 2 km away from a domestic terminal crowded with civilians. If this analysis is true, the failure of the Patriot Defense System will surely cast doubt upon the defence capabilities of other countries that rely on it, such as Israel, South Korea, Japan, and Germany. At the same time, this will embolden their enemies, such as North Korea and the Houthis, to further develop their own missile program in order to exploit this weakness.
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