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Iraq war files

New and improved Patriot Missile statistics

March, 2003 —

There was a claim that on Thursday American Patriot missiles over Iraq shot down two scud missiles bound for Kuwait. This was reminiscent of the bogus claims of great success of Patriot missiles in the first Gulf War, 1991.

The claim now, a week into the invasion, is that Patriot missiles have stopped four out of six scud missiles fired at Kuwait.

In 1991, U.S. claims of 80% and 50% success over Saudi Arabia and Israel, respectively, showed to be radically exaggerated. The government revised these numbers to 70% and 40%, shortly afterward. There was never any proof that one Patriot missile brought down a target. Zero to two percent seems to be the range of concensus on the success of the anti-missile missiles in that war.

But now, in the fog of war and truth being the first casualty, we have four Patriot missiles, so improved in the intervening years, shooting down some scuds. Uh, yeah. Maybe.

On Sunday, a Patriot missile shot down a British jet as the jet was returning from a battle mission. The cause of the accident — whether human or technological error — is under investigation.


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