US-Supplied Defense System Failed To Intercept Houthi Missile Attack On Saudi Capital

Tyler Durden's picture

A new study in the New York Times suggests that Saudi Arabia's state of the art defense system failed to intercept the ballistic missile fired by Yemen's Houthi rebels which nearly hit Riyadh's international airport on November 4th. The report contradicts the official claims of the Saudi and American governments, which both announced immediately after the incident that the US-supplied Patriot missile defense system had successfully intercepted the Houthi fired Scud.  

The analysis, which utilized open-source material in the form of available video and social media photos of the aftermath of the attack, was conducted by a team of missile experts, and threatens to shake confidence in the US system, which is currently implemented by American allies around the world from South Korea and Taiwan to Turkey, Israel and Japan, among others. 

Image via Indian Express, representational image

And notably President Trump himself had announced while aboard Air Force One on the day following the attack, “Our system knocked the missile out of the air.” Trump also emphasized the importance of demonstrable success of the systems and added, “That’s how good we are. Nobody makes what we make, and now we’re selling it all over the world.”

But The New York Times report begins with a flat contradiction of that claim:

The official story was clear: Saudi forces shot down a ballistic missile fired by Yemen’s Houthi rebel group last month at Saudi Arabia’s capital, Riyadh. It was a victory for the Saudis and for the United States, which supplied the Patriot missile defense system.


...But an analysis of photos and videos of the strike posted to social media suggests that story may be wrong. Instead, evidence analyzed by a research team of missile experts appears to show the missile’s warhead flew unimpeded over Saudi defenses and nearly hit its target, Riyadh’s airport. The warhead detonated so close to the domestic terminal that customers jumped out of their seats.

The Houthi missile was identified at the time as a Burqan-2, revealed in a video of the November 4 launch produced by a Houthi group, and is a variant of the Scud missile commonly used in the region. The attack took Middle East observers by surprise as the missile traveled about 600 miles and reveals a growing sophistication in the Houthi arsenal - all of which led to a number of researchers to claim Iranian origins of the weapon, something which Iran and its regional allies continue to deny.

Image via How Stuff Works/Raytheon

As part of the NYT investigation experts primarily examined the multiple videos and photos of missile debris locations and missile parts, and concluded that the Saudis couldn't have intercepted the warhead, which further appears to have exploded on impact, something which wouldn't have happened had the projectile been effectively intercepted. 

The report continues

Saudi officials said the debris, which appears to belong to a downed Burqan-2, showed a successful shootdown. But an analysis of the debris shows that the warhead components – the part of the missile that carries the explosives – were missing. The missing warhead signaled something important to the analysts: that the missile may have evaded Saudi defenses.


...This would explain why the debris in Riyadh only appears to consist of the rear tube. And it suggests that the Saudis may have missed the missile, or only hit the tube after it had separated and begun to fall uselessly toward earth.

Researchers also examined extensive video and eyewitness testimony from the airport and in the vicinity of what the Saudi authorities initially reported as mere falling debris, however, the evidence points to an explosion that could only be explained by the impact of the warhead, which likely evaded the defensive measures. Videos recorded an explosion which occurred at a location very near the main domestic terminal of the airport, the immediate aftermath of which was clearly visible and was strongly felt inside the terminal. 

Video sequence showing footage collected from the November 4th attack.

The warhead, the report says, continued on its trajectory after mid-air separation from the rest of the missile, which it is designed to do, making it harder to intercept as it nears its target. Though Saudi officials claimed that it was only debris from an intercepted missile that hit the airport, researchers concluded

The blast was small, and satellite imagery of the airport taken immediately before and after the blast is not detailed enough to capture the crater from the impact, the analysts said. But it does show ground damage from the emergency vehicles, supporting the finding that the warhead hit just off the runway.


While the Houthis missed their target, Mr. Lewis said, they got close enough to show that their missiles can reach it and can evade Saudi defenses. “A kilometer is a pretty normal miss rate for a Scud,” he said. “The Houthis got very close to creaming that airport.”

One scientist cited in the report, Laura Grego, noted that it's hugely significant that the Saudis fired five times at the incoming missile and missed. "You shoot five times at this missile and they all miss? That's shocking,” she said. “That's shocking because this system is supposed to work.”

Though the Saudi government didn't respond to the report, and will likely not address the findings, it will be interesting to see the Patriot system's performance during the next incursion. As fighting is continuing to intensify in neighboring Yemen, it is likely only a matter of time.

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Mr Hankey's picture

Refute posts meta-truth of Izzy bombing& assassinating any one,any where it feels like ,including Iran& the good 'ole Jewnited Shakes Uv 'murica.,since it was siezed.

Mr Hankey's picture

Refute posts meta-truth of Izzy bombing& assassinating any one,any where it feels like ,including Iran& the good 'ole Jewnited Shakes Uv 'murica.,since it was siezed.

Mr Hankey's picture

Refute posts meta-truth of Izzy bombing& assassinating any one,any where it feels like ,including Iran& the good 'ole Jewnited Shakes Uv 'murica.,since it was siezed.With total impunity.

HRClinton's picture

The Saudis should have had their hands on that  GE Palantir orb, that Trump and their king lit up.

JackT's picture

Can SCUDs actually do any real damage anyways? Might be cheaper to just let the bottle rockets land

ParkAveFlasher's picture

If they land on you, then yes.

Mementoil's picture

Not to mention the psycological effect of having rockets shower on your capital city, scaring people and disrupting everyday life.
We in Israel had to put up with that for years and years, as the Palestinian "Kassam" rockets have turned life in some Israeli towns into a living hell.
Not many were actually killed, but an entire generation grew up in constant anxiety and fear.

And now we have iron dome and the Palestinians are still stuck in their own $***...

D.T.Barnum's picture

<cue sad violin music, hands mementoil a tissue>

farflungstar's picture

It's like annudah shoah! *sniff* 

Mr Hankey's picture

"If I were a rich man... I'd biddy biddy boom.... all day long I'd biddy biddy boom, if I were a wealthy man. .." 

: -^ (

44magnum's picture

Palies using rockets to scare you how barbaric, they should just pick you off one by one like you do to them daily. Then destroy your homes and steal your land.

Peter Royce Clayon da Turd's picture

Your history is fu##ed. It you want to blame anyone for the mess, try the Brits and that Balfour "Agreement". To think I served for 16 years to defend your right to say such ignorant sh**. To think, I was once like you until I got an education.

Mr Hankey's picture

& sexually torture their children.

Peter Royce Clayon da Turd's picture

Sorry to inform you Mementoil, but this site has been taken over by Storm Front members with a very simple form of thinking. They seem to think that a few bad Jews (Rothschild/Soros/Israeli politicos who place their citizen's safety below theatrics) makes for ALL being bad Jews.

D.T.Barnum's picture

I grew up in NYC and no Jews felt inclined to tell me about rothschild, likud, central banks, soros, jew controlled media, holohoax etc.  They either don't bother to know or don't care to divulge because at the end of the day they benefit from the system.

there are some good jew whisteblowers though, like murray rothbard and benjamin freedman

hestroy's picture

MOST of them fully support (isra)Hell no matter what and they hate a few dozens Joos who criticise that (isra)Hell. And now just fuck off, little Sayani.

44magnum's picture

Sympathy for the Devil , Turd?



wet_nurse's picture

People should google "controversial Talmud passages". Makes the Koran seem down right American

hestroy's picture

Shalom, shalom, funny joo guy.

XWeatherman's picture

Imagine how the Palestinians felt about Israel genocide of Palestinians.  Israeli zionists delude themselves thinking that their god is their Real Estate Agent and that the price of land is the lives of Palestinian women and children.

greenskeeper carl's picture

Scuds aren't not very accurate, but still carry a pretty large warhead. One of those landing on a crowded airport terminal would kill a lot of people. These things are more 'terror weapons'. They are useful for scaring people, but aren't accurate enough to reliably hit a target unless you launch a dozen of them at the same time.

cherry picker's picture

Kind of like those 59 tomahawks

Conscious Reviver's picture

Bada Bing! As Tony Soprano used to say. Btw, Mementol, start something with Hezbollah and see what comes flying at you.

Peter Royce Clayon da Turd's picture

How about I launch one at your city/town's waste-water plant? Power generating station? City hall (okay, that's going too far). Or how about a weaponized warhead with type-a Botulinum...
Seriously, how did you form the IQ points to turn on that CPU/phone/tablet this morning?

Conscious Reviver's picture

Sit tight. It's coming. You are going to be on the receiving end for a change.

farflungstar's picture

Brave israel who bombs civilian infrastructure - it only figures it would get approval from cowards

Mr Hankey's picture

Why don't you launch a shit -ton of them  at Jew York & do more than knock  down a coupla buildings this time.

Volkodav's picture

       is too much before post ignorance, do minimum research?



africoman's picture

No worries Lockheed martin's are doing their secret ingredient stealth bomber for NK.

Mustafa Kemal's picture

Suprise, surprise, surprise!

MEFOBILLS's picture


The Russian SCUD design was also manufactured by NK.  

For sure, the investigation is likely to be untrustworthy, and either Iran or NK will be blamed for supplying Houthis.

Blue Steel 309's picture

And exactly nobody who is even tangentially privy to national defense capabilities is surprised.

Dubaibanker's picture

There are two reasons why this missile failed. 

1. This missile was fired by CIA/Saudis on themselves which is why no one died, no one got hurt, nothing happened. Only thing missing as compared to 9/11 was no passports were found. :) It happened on same day as 1,000 top most Saudis were arrested and Hariri was forced to resign. All on same day!

What the hell are the chances it wasn't coordinated? It certainly was.

2. Yemen did not issue a video of this missile attack, which they usually do including the attack on UAE yesterday. 

Rest all is FAKE NEWS including this article if you believe the above.

indygo55's picture

The only thing missing are photos from the Russian tank "invasion" of the Balkens doctored up to look like Huthis. 

Conscious Reviver's picture

Dubaibanker, you are usually on the ball. Why the disinfo?

Yes the Houthis did release a video of the launch according to Ruptly. I checked it out. It looks legit to me. See for yourself.

Maybe the heat is getting a little too close to home on this one? First Riyadh, next Dubai?

Grimaldus's picture

Well the video cuts off the famous "Houthi Chant"  In case you are curious it goes like this:


"Allah is Greater, Death to America, Death to Israel, Curse on the Jews, Victory to Islam."


Everytime they blow something Saudi up, they chant this. But they are fighting the Saudis.

Just goes to show, the Islamic stupid, it burns.









Dubaibanker's picture

I missed this video release. Oops!

Thanks for catching me.

But I firmly believe, through my sources, that CIA did send that missile to Riyadh airport. The day/time/location for major impact made headlines but Saudis never retaliated like they always do on Yemen. Plus Hariri and 1,000 arrests.

It all ties in except for my goof up on the video.

My bad. Due apologies to all.

Volkodav's picture

       wrong   if you looked at all



Mustafa Kemal's picture

"Rest all is FAKE NEWS including this article if you believe the above."

Please help me to understand. You are saying that "if I believe the above, then it is fake news"? I dont make fake news

holgerdanske's picture

Want equipment that works?

Buy russian.

Want to be toppeled, invaded and fucked up? and get lousy planes rockets and guns??

Deal with the Americans

yarpos's picture

Got far better PR and hubris though

Rjh's picture

Lol, ZeroHedge's record for publishing legitimate articles is like 0 for 30,000. Their authors must be comprised of the schizophrenic, America-hating losers who spread Russian, Chink and Muzzie propaganda in the comments.

Shemp 4 Victory's picture

Flagged as #KoolAid-Chugger

Rjh's picture

You did too much acid in the 60s, faggot

hestroy's picture

LOL! You are a really funny braindead retard.

Mustafa Kemal's picture

Hey Back to back WW champions. You should read a little history. Moreover, that is old history. How is our record of winning since then? Vietnam? Afghanistan? Lybia? Syria? 

Does that mean Im a russian muzzie lover?


yarpos's picture

yep,  all by yourselves, after a few years,  once you chose to get involved,  nobody else involved.

ZH Snob's picture

oh my, if rocket scientists are shocked, that's really saying something.

Badsamm's picture

Don’t worry, no one here believed them anyway

To Hell In A Handbasket's picture

Fuck the USSA. A pox on the world. No nation on the planet does more sanctimonious self-promotion than the Yanks.