Why U.S. Patriot missiles failed to stop drones and cruise missiles attacking Saudi oil sites.
The U.S. is having trouble defending against low-flying drones and cruise missiles after years of the Pentagon focusing on longer-range threats.
A lot depends on the word “if”. In any event, the effectiveness of military defensive and offensive gear is a constant see-saw battle. Iran apparently detected this weakness and exploited it.
As has been said: “Only the enemy will tell you where you are weak.”
The United States is sending American troops to the Middle East to provide better air and missile defenses after an aerial attack on Saudi oil targets last week. The raid began around 4 a.m. on the morning of Sept. 14, with explosions rippling across the Kurais and Abqaiq Aramco oil processing facilities inside Saudi Arabia as the sound of defensive automatic machine-gun fire rang in the air.
In theory, the oil facilities both lay under the defensive umbrella of Patriot PAC-2 surface-to-air missile batteries that the U.S. sold to Saudi Arabia to intercept aircraft and missiles up to 100 miles away. However, if Saudi radars detected the 18 triangular drones and seven cruise missiles (judging by recovered debris) that bombarded them last week, they did so too late. Instead, they were forced to fire sporadically with automatic weapons, which didn’t prevent widespread damage that temporarily disrupted shipments of 5.7 million barrels of oil daily — half of Saudi Arabia’s output.
Indeed, while the U.S. troops are intended to provide help against this type of threat — believed to have been launched by Iran — air attacks by low-flying drones and cruise missiles are exactly the types of systems the U.S. is having trouble defending against after years of focusing on longer-range threats.