The Patriot Air Defence System Failed. Why?

The Attack on Saudi Arabia’s Oil Facility. The Patriot Air Defence System Failed. Why?

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky
On Saturday September 14, 2019, a missile and drone attack was waged against the world’s largest oil processing facility in Saudi Arabia.
Yemen’s Houthi forces from the Ansar Allah movement claimed responsibility for the attack.
Washington blamed Iran. In chorus, the media pointed to the Houthis supported by Iran or attacks waged directly by Iran.
The media consensus: the attacks were ‘unquestionably sponsored by Iran’.
There are many unanswered questions, the most important of which is:
Why did Saudi Arabia’s advanced Patriot Air defense system fail to detect the drones and missiles?
According to the Wall Street Journal:
U.S. and Saudi officials didn’t anticipate a strike from inside Iran, officials said, rather than through one of its proxy forces or elite military units.
Saudi and U.S. focus had been largely on the kingdom’s southern border with Yemen, where Riyadh has been fighting Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen’s civil war, the officials said. The attacks, however, originated from Iranian territory in the northern Persian Gulf, …
The absence of air-defense coverage left Saudi’s eastern flank largely undefended by any U.S. or Saudi air-defense systems, … The glaring blind spot also left Saudi Arabia exposed to a threat despite spending billions annually on its defense budget.
“You know, we don’t have an unblinking eye over the entire Middle East at all times,” Marine Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters near London on Tuesday. (emphasis added)
These are nonsensical statements.
The whole Persian Gulf defense apparatus –which includes strategic US and allied military facilities– is based on “anticipating” strikes from Iran. Saudi Arabia’s Air defense is coordinated by the Royal Saudi Air Defense Forces (RSADF) which constitutes a separate branch of the Armed Forces.
The Eastern flank of Saudi Arabia is not “undefended”. Quite the opposite: it is protected by the US multibillion dollar Patriot Air Defense system. Western defense analysts know this inside out.
Moreover, that Eastern flank of Saudi Arabia bordering on the Persian Gulf is heavily militarized. It includes several important US and allied military facilities in Saudi Arabia (as well as in the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman). The Persian Gulf is among the most militarized regions on the Planet.

According to reports, US and Saudi officials were taken by surprise. Again a nonsensical statement.
They did not expect that the attack would come from the North. According to the Saudi Defence ministry spokesman Colonel Turki Al- Maliki,
“The attack was launched from the north and unquestionably sponsored by Iran, … We are working to know the exact launch point. … This is the kind of weapon the Iranian regime and the Iranian IRGC are using against the civilian … facilities”

Why did the air defense system fail? The underlying statements intimate that the air defense umbrella so to speak was geared towards defending Saudi Arabia solely from attacks coming from the South. A totally absurd proposition. The North-South issue is irrelevant. We are dealing with an advanced computerized military structure including a sophisticated and integrated air defense network.
At the same time Coronel Al Maliki at the press conference contradicts his own statements, stating that the Houthis did not have the capabilities of attacking them from the South beyond 700 km.
Listen carefully to the Aramco press conference: Colonel Turki al-Maliki. (17’00) (Al Arabya, published September 18, 2019)

(video @ the link)

When questioned on why the air defense system failed, Colonel Al Maliki stumbled. (17′.30″),
“Mark Stone from Sky News. With respect, this is quite an embarrassing display for the Saudi military because it’s quite clear that your air defenses failed incredibly badly that so many missiles and drones were able to penetrate deep into Saudi Arabia”
He did not answer the question. He pointed to the very large number of ballistic missiles and UAVs which had previously been intercepted (since 2015). But no mention on the number of missiles and UAVs intercepted on September 14:
“We are pretty proud about our air defense. Our air defense has intercepted until now almost 232 ballistic missiles [no details provided]. There is no country in the world [which has] been attacked with such [a large] amount of ballistic missiles and no attack to any country with 258 UAV. Our air defenses with the ability we have and our officers, NCOs and the community we have as air defense to locate as a tactical disposition on the ground. We save our nation. We save our country. If you think they are (INAUDIBLE), we are very proud of our defense. I’m sure the Saudi nation, they are pretty proud about our air defense.” (emphasis added)

Failure of the Air Defense System? Or Was the Patriot System “Disabled” on September 14?
Why did it fail?
There is of course the fashionable thesis that the US Patriot System is flawed in comparison to Russia’s state of the art S-400 air defence system. This assessment is correct but is it relevant?
Other reports point to the fact that the cruise missiles and UAVs were flying at low altitude (and could not be detected by the radar system).
“These were low-flying cruise missiles. They were coming in far below the engagement zone for Patriot. So you wouldn’t have tried to hit them with Patriot.” (CNBC)
But this does not explain the total failure of Saudi Arabia’s air defence system on that particular day. The Patriot system (PAC) is extremely versatile and advanced. The apologetic reports on the failure of the Patriot Missile system in intercepting low-flying missiles are contradictory (focusing allegedly on weak radar capabilities at low altitude).
The US-made Patriot mobile air defense system produced by Raytheon is specifically “designed to intercept tactical ballistic missiles, low-flying cruise missiles and aircraft.” (, May 10, 2019). It uses an advanced aerial interceptor missile and high-performance radar systems.
The attack on Saturday September 14, was made up of a total of 18 drones (UAVs) and seven missiles.
Strategic targets had been carefully selected. An early report on the 14th of September suggested that the Patriot air defense system could possibly have been “disabled by the rebels” (as occurred in previous attacks):
“the rebels have flown drones into the radar arrays of Saudi Arabia’s Patriot missile batteries, according to Conflict Armament Research, disabling them and allowing the Houthis to fire ballistic missiles into the kingdom unchallenged.” (CNBC, September 14, 2019, emphasis added)
This report intimates (without concrete evidence) that the Patriot Air System might have been inoperative on September 14, which suggests that drones or missiles were not detected or intercepted.
The data on the interception of missiles and UAVs in previous attacks against Saudi Arabia is routinely reported. No “official” data, however, was released with regards to the September 14 attacks. Nor was the issue mentioned in the press conference. According to defense analyst David Axe

Why Patriot Missiles Are Useless

The Saudi military launched Patriot Advanced Capability-2 missiles in an attempt to destroy the Houthi rockets in mid-air. The Saudis claimed seven of the Patriots struck their targets.
He also referred to “amateur videos of errant defense missiles that appeared online”
Whereas the Wall Street Journal acknowledges the failures of the Patriot System while blatantly “inflating” the number of missiles and UAVs launched, the data on how many were intercepted is simply not mentioned:
U.S. and Saudi military forces and their elaborate air-defense systems failed to detect the launch of airstrikes aimed at Saudi Arabian oil facilities, allowing dozens of drones and missiles to hit their targets, U.S. officials said.
“Dozens”? There were 18 drones and 7 missiles.
How many of these were intercepted? Defense specialists are mum on the subject and official statements have carefully avoided discussing it. Visibly that information is being withheld.
That leads us to the smoking gun question.
Was the Patriot Air Defense system “fully functional” on September 14?
Was it the rebels (operating inside Saudi Arabia) who disabled the Patriot system (as mentioned in the CNBC report) or was it something else? Was there an explicit order emanating from US and/or Saudi officials not to fully activate the air defense system with a view to effectively countering the incoming missiles and UAVs on that day? This matter has to be investigated.
18 drones and 7 missiles were launched. Major strategic targets –which had been carefully selected– were reached without impediment.
In other words, while it may be premature at this stage, we should not exclude the possibility that this was a False Flag with major repercussions on energy and financial markets.
The financial reaction was immediate. Saudi stocks fell, the oil prices rose, then settled and later fell again. It was an immediate reaction of major banks’ algorithmic speculation with about 10,000 operational hits a second. A trial for larger things to come? (Peter Koenig, Global Research, September 21, 2019)
Curious Cdn
The Saudis attacked their own facilities?
Quote: Originally Posted by Curious Cdn View Post

The Saudis attacked their own facilities?

Is the KSA north of itself??
Anybody care to highlight the lies in the article??
Israeli Defence Engineer Reveals Why Saudi Defences Failed to Repel Aramco Attacks

Previously, a source in the Russian Defence Ministry expressed an opinion that American Patriot systems, which were protecting the oil refineries, failed to do their job due to their low efficiency against drone swarm attacks.

Former Director of the Israel Missile Defence Organisation Uzi Rubin has revealed in an interview with the Defence News media outlet that Saudi air defences, namely Patriot systems, failed to repel the combined drone and missile attack on the country’s oil facilities in September due to the aerial assailants flying below the horizon. According to him, the defences were not prepared to detect such targets.
"When it comes to missiles, missile defence sensors will aim above the horizon because the missile is above it and you don’t want clutter. So when it comes to guarding, the issue is things that can sneak in near the ground", he said.
Rubin said that it's difficult to close this radar "gap", through which low-flying objects can slip, but not impossible. He added that all the Saudis need to do is establish proper local defences.
He elaborated that no "fancy" systems are needed for this and that the quite simple and battle-proven Russian Pantsir S1 (NATO reporting name SA-22 Greyhound) systems with dual 2A38M 30 millimetre automatic cannons equipped with infrared direction finders would do the trick. Russia has been successfully using Pantsirs to repel frequent massive drone attacks on its Hmeymim base in Syria carried out by local militant groups.
Although there is no indication that Riyadh has discussed purchasing Pantsirs from Russia, it did discuss the possibility of buying Russian S-400 air defence systems in 2018, which possess certain advantages when compared with the American Patriots. However, recent events involving Turkey and India have shown that such a purchase could spark a negative reaction from Saudi Arabia’s long-time ally, Washington, which has already threatened New Delhi and Ankara with sanctions over their acquisition of S-400s.
In light of the 14 September attacks, which crippled Saudi Aramco’s oil refineries and halved the country's daily crude output, the Pentagon announced the deployment of an additional Patriot battery to the Middle Eastern ally's territory. The decision comes despite two such batteries failing to foil the combined drone-missile attack, the responsibility for which has been claimed by Yemen’s Houthis.
Last edited by MHz; Sep 28th, 2019 at 08:22 PM..