December 7, 2007: The (UAE) United Arab Emirates
wants to buy nine U.S. Patriot air defense batteries, plus 288 PAC-3
anti-missile missiles [PHOTO], and 216 PAC-2 anti-aircraft/anti-missile missiles. All
this will cost the UAE about $9 billion.
The Patriot PAC 2 missiles cost about $3.3 million
each and have a range of 70 kilometers. The Patriot launchers also fire the
smaller (in diameter) PAC 3 anti-missile missiles. A Patriot launcher can hold
sixteen PAC 3 missiles, versus four PAC 2s. A PAC 2 missile weighs about a ton,
a PAC 3 weighs about a third of that. The PAC 3 has a shorter range, of about
Each Patriot battalion has 12-24 launchers (3-6
batteries). The PAC 3 was used for the first time during the 2003 invasion of
Iraq. The Iraqis fired eleven long range missiles at American targets (usually
headquarters) and PAC 3 missiles took down eight of them. During the 1991 Gulf
War, the larger, anti-aircraft version (PAC 2)of the Patriot missile, modified
for use against missiles, knocked down about 70 percent of the missiles the Iraqis
fired. There is still some dispute over this, largely because the Iraqis had
modified their SCUD missiles to give them longer range. This involved
installing larger fuel tanks, resulting in longer missiles. This change in the
shape and internal strength of the missiles, caused many to come apart as they
plunged earthward. That is, the warhead section broke apart from the fuselage.
This reduced the accuracy of the missile, but also provided interceptor
missiles with two or more incoming targets. The Patriot missiles would often
hit something, but it was difficult to tell if the target hit was the warhead
or fuselage. That's one reason why two PAC 3s are fired at each target. In any
event, the longer range SCUDs are so inaccurate that, unless they are being
fired at a large target (like a city) they are unlikely to hit anything
valuable. The Iraqis made the increased range modification during their 1980s
war with Iran, when the missiles were fired at the Iranian capital, Tehran.
It's still unclear if the Iraqis even knew of the "breaking up on re-entry"
problem, not that it mattered. As long as their missile hit somewhere inside
Tehran, it was a success.
At the time, Iran did not modify its missiles,
because their main target, Baghdad, was close to the Iranian border. But Iran
has longer range ballistic missiles now, and some of the less sophisticated
ones may suffer from "breaking up on re-entry" problem. The UAE wants the
Patriot mainly for protection from Iranian aircraft and missiles. Patriot has
also shot down several aircraft, most of them in friendly fire incidents
(brought about by electronic hardware problems, usually in the aircraft).
However, the Patriot is considered very effective against aircraft.