U.S. Says Action on Israeli Warnings Could Have Averted Deaths from Scuds

The U.S. State Department’s inspector general has concluded that the American military might have averted the deaths of 27 soldiers in Saudi Arabia last year had it acted sooner on Israeli warnings about defects in the Patriot anti-missile missiles, the Israeli daily Ma’ariv reported Friday.

The soldiers were killed and 98 others were injured when an Iraqi Scud missile slammed into a U.S. barracks in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, on Feb. 25, 1991, during the Persian Gulf War. They were the only significant casualties attributable to the Scuds, which the Iraqis launched against Israel and Saudi Arabia during the brief conflict.

Israel, supplied with Patriots for its defense, provided updated information to the United States about flaws in the weapon’s computer program.

Ma’ariv referred to a report by the inspector general, Sherman Funk, on problems in the Patriot program that caused the system to fail and made possible the deaths in Dhahran.

According to Ma’ariv, the report says Israel revealed to the United States that the Patriot computer program showed a tendency to malfunction after eight hours of continuous operation. The battery that failed at Dhahran had been working for 100 hours beforehand.

On Feb. 11, 1991, two weeks before the fatal attack, Israel suggested corrective measures which the U.S. military began to implement, but at such a slow pace that the information did not reach Dhahran until Feb. 26, a day too late.

NEXT STORY