For the first time, the U.S. Army has employed the new Patriot
PAC-3 missile defense to intercept Iraqi missiles and rockets.
The U.S. 101st Airborne Division fired PAC-3 interceptors to protect
U.S. Army positions in an Iraqi missile and rocket attack on northern
Kuwait. At least six rockets and missiles were fired, Middle East Newsline reported.
U.S. officials said the PAC-3 intercepted two of the Iraqi projectiles.
The missiles were identified as the short-range Al Samoud.
Army commanders determined that the PAC-3 successfully protected
military positions and troops. They said the improved Patriot defense system
immediately detected the launch and intercepted the Iraqi rockets and
missiles without damage by debris to U.S. positions.
"We had two legitimate attacks today, and both were foiled by the
Patriot missile batteries," Maj. Trey Cate, public affairs officer for the
101st. Airborne Division, said.
At least one PAC-3 battery has been deployed in Kuwait. Defense
Department officials had expressed reservations over the decision to station
the PAC-3 system, which still required further testing. The Pentagon has
awarded Lockheed Martin a series of contracts to accelerate production and
delivery of the PAC-3.
Officials said the PAC-3 destroyed an Iraqi Ababil-100 missile heading
toward Camp Thunder in northern Kuwait. They said three interceptors were
fired -- one PAC-3 interceptor malfunctioned, the other missed the Ababil
and the third destroyed the Iraqi missile.
Later, the PAC-3 destroyed a second Iraqi missile. Officials said this
missile was headed for Kuwait City and was identified as an Al Samoud. None
of the Iraqi missiles contained biological or chemical warheads.
[A Kuwaiti military spokesman said Iraq fired a Scud-based missile as
well as a Chinese missile on Thursday. The spokesman said the missiles were
intercepted without damage or injuries.]
Later, Western diplomatic sources asserted that the PAC-3 system did not
intercept Iraqi missiles. They said interceptors destroyed Iraqi rockets
with a range of 90 kilometers.
The rockets were not identified. But the description of the rockets
matched that of Iraq's Laith-90 strategic rocket. The Laith-90, an
extended-range version of the Soviet-origin Frog-7, has a range of 90
kilometers with a conventional payload of 450 kilograms.