Pentagon Claims PAC-3 Success against Iraqi Missiles

Article excerpt

INITIAL MILITARY REPORTS from the Iraq war say that the small stockpile of U.S. Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) anti-ballistic missiles is performing well, but one destroyed a British fighter jet and another targeted a U.S. combat aircraft. The Pentagon deployed a predecessor of the PAC-3 in the 1991 Persian Gulf War that was also credited initially with working almost flawlessly, but those claims were later significantly revised.

The number of PAC-3 interceptors available for action is limited. Just more than 50 had been purchased and delivered to the U.S. Army for deployment by the end of last year. Lieutenant General Ronald Kadish, director of the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency, said March 18 that the Pentagon planned to have as many as 348 PAC-3 missiles by the end of 2005.

In a nearly $75 billion fiscal year 2003 supplemental budget request unveiled March 25, the Bush administration is asking Congress for $3.7 billion to replenish expended munitions, or at least munitions that are expected to be expended, including the Patriot.

As of March 27, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) reported that Patriot interceptors, some specifically PAC-3s, have destroyed eight Iraqi missiles since the start of the conflict. CENTCOM did not respond to questions on exactly how many Patriot interceptors have been fired, which specific Patriot systems were involved in the intercepts, and the total number and type of Iraqi missiles launched at Kuwait and U.S.-led forces.

The loss of a British Tornado combat aircraft and its two crewmen returning from a March 23 mission over Iraq was also attributed to a PAC-3 interceptor. …