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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D.T.Barnum's picture

the only thing keeping me going everyday is being able to see the look on everyone's face when the bottom falls out of this shit-show, and everyone's luxuries, security, pensions (especially lazy ass .gov workers), retirement, investments, etc go up in a puff of vapor.

I know a couple things:

#1 Economies have boom bust cycles

#2 we are late in the stage of a "boom," which wasn't even really a boom, it was just money printing that forced malinvestments.

#3 People are just living in a fantasy land everyday like #1 and #2 aren't true.

Rome 2.0

jeff montanye's picture

that and the seeming self immolation of parts of the deep state.  the scenario of warring factions within it seems to fit some of the facts.  the news that the inspectors general have been investigating the fbi and doj, possibly among others, for eleven months is also heartening (supposedly some of the strzok revelations come out of this).

herbivore's picture

You don't think IG's are part of the Deep State? Case in point: Theresa Grafenstine


indygo55's picture

And now we are going to cut taxes. Yeah! That's how strong we are. Even though we are totally broke and bankrupt we will cut taxes cuz it is so great to do that. And even though the vast majority of americans already pay NO TAX, we are STILL going to cut them anyway. 

herbivore's picture

Don't knock it. You get a little more time to prepare for the collapse.

Shemp 4 Victory's picture

While generally in agreement, I must point out that all Americans are in fact taxed. When the government receives a cut of virtually every purchase, sale, service, or transport, focusing on income tax alone is missing the forest for the trees.

Still gave you a +1, though, because in an actual economy based on reality rather than fraud, a tax cut by a bankrupt government defies sense.

yarpos's picture

Hardly unique is it?  I really dont get they way Americans wail about taxes but still expect that USA is No1! in everything.  Every developed country has income taxes, sales taxes, stamp duties, licence fees and excises.  Usually tax changes just change where tax is paid rather than collect less tax.

Mr Hankey's picture

I'm white,non .gov you fucking retard. I will never see 1/3 of my paycheck & am 4-paychecks away from losing my house you privileged gravy-sucking 'murican pig.

MaxThrust's picture

#1 Economies have boom bust cycles

A slight correction. Economies have engineered boom and bust cycles via fiat printing and margin debt.

Blue Steel 309's picture

I fought and almost died for my country. Then I realized my country is already dead, I do not deserve the same fate.

herbivore's picture

You fought and almost died for the Military-Industrial complex. And if you killed people, natives of a foreign land who didn't invite you to invade them, you did a really bad thing.

lenz3099's picture

You sound butthurt, what happened foriegn faggot get your visa denied?

Mustafa Kemal's picture

"You sound butthurt, what happened foriegn faggot get your visa denied?"

I am butthurt asshole. From my own country.

I come from a long line of military, and we all feel that way. Support our troups and bring them home.

Moe Howard's picture

Is it SCUD season again?

Seems like just yesterday CNN was dodging SCUDs in their Atlanta studios.



SoDamnMad's picture

Hello Raytheon. This is the Polish defense ministry. Cancel our order for your Patriot missile system.

ParkAveFlasher's picture

Hello, Polish Defense Ministry, sorry this is Raytheon, yes, but all sales are final.

Wile-E-Coyote's picture

Yes, but they did find an Iranian passport in the wreckage.

Hillarys Server's picture

If the entire combined forces of the US military industrial complex can't shoot down a Houti tribal firecracker thrown gently across the desert sand, how are they going to shoot down a hundred North Korean intercontinental thermonuclear h-bombs which have been shot straight up into the universe at a height ten times higher than the international space station, situate themselves over major US cities and then drop straight down on them from the sky a zillion times faster than Hillary can barf a fur ball into a glass of cool water?

jeff montanye's picture

in all fairness to lil' kim's prowess, that high trajectory shot was so the missile would land relatively near but demonstrate the longevity of the flight hence potential maximum range, assuming the report was true.

still gives one pause though.  my recommendation would be for the u.s. to stop poking a stick in the tiger's cage, withdraw u.s. troops from the korean peninsula as part of negotiating a chinese/russian "protectorate" with north korea and simultaneous work on south and north korea hostility reduction and reunification. 

Conscious Reviver's picture

Right. It is their backyard. Not ours.

XWeatherman's picture

And what Boogey Man would the U.S. Military Industrial Complex Death-Merchants replace Lil'Kim with?

otschelnik's picture

How could Hillary accumulate a fur ball in her stomach?   No wait, don't tell me! 

Yellow_Snow's picture

From the earlest days, We knew that the Patriot missile system was a hoax

Conscious Reviver's picture

Iron Dome. Is that Bibi's bald head?

veritas semper vinces's picture

The Iron Dome is quite rusty. This is the side effect of too many  chosenite tears of self pity. Kind of like crying wolf too many times.

This ,combined with the self assurance given by their "chosen" status and extreme hubris which make them push too much,is a lethal combination for them.

They(like their Uncle Shlomo) are going to find out soon,that you can not fight the blowing wind.

Omega_Man's picture

the answer is fire more missiles at saudi and merica

Yellow_Snow's picture

The 'missile attack' killed 7 ants, 1 grasshopper, 22 blades of grass, and produced a 3mm superficial 'crack' to the N runway...

"We have arraigned the 'insect corpses' for all to see and mourn their losses"

jeff montanye's picture

and then the houthis burned down the house of saudi arabia's yemenese presidential ally, possibly with him in it.

FirstTimeCaller's picture


English not your first language?

HRClinton's picture


"No Saudi camels or goats were harmed, in making this video"

veritas semper vinces's picture

Like all those zionists attacks in Syria.

How about the "stork" which knocked down their mighty F-35?


JailBanksters's picture

It should be easy to hit a bullet with a bullet, they're going a lot slower.

teslacoil's picture

Should be no surprise.

The USA can't even stop the homeless in CA from launching their shit missiles on the sidewalks!

Imakewinedisappear's picture

How comes that nearly 30 years ago the Patriots worked against Saddam's Scuds and now they don't? Are they exactly the same, but with 30 years worth of rust on them?

Bombshelter's picture

And presumably the Houthi will in future stuff tinfoil chaff and the odd rubber duck and an old shoe into the interstage which will all deploy on separation of the warhead to further obscure the warhead's location, confuse anti-missile radars, and cause intense anxiety among the delighted recipients as to when and where the second shoe will fall!  

indygo55's picture

I thought they all wanted to die. The 72 virgins thing and all. 

God is The Son's picture

If someone fired 59 Tomahawk Missles at Trump Tower, at it's Core Beams? Would it Collpase? Like WTC7?

God is The Son's picture

This Technology was useless, when Saddam Fired his Scuds at Occupided Palastine, pissed off the Chosenites, so much that they ordered the Goy Americans to toople Saddam's Sunni Party, which allowed Iranians to take over, which ended up pissing off the Chosenites even more.

coltek's picture

"Holy crap, you weren't supposed to actually fire them..."

Kefeer's picture

The Israelis made the same claim during the Gulf War; many Scud missles made it through.

africoman's picture

Let me break it for ya all:

There ain't no missile interceptor in Saud fired from the genuine Houti force, like remember back in the last month the one they claimed intercepted and it was just one missile<<<ODD>>>?

The media can report such fake news playing both sides, on the side of alleged shooter <<<fake Houthi while they are firing >>> and intercepter Saud.

That was a coordinated usual psyop to ramp up the demonization of Iran.

There is no way U$A or Saud could intercept homemade random missiles from genuine Houthis attacks.

This filthy nation Saud makes me wanna puke, the death & destruction of poor Yemenis making their everyday business for nothing tangible..

Conscious Reviver's picture

Sorry, I think you are wrong on this one. Houthis are a special kind of badass. Maybe the Saudis kicked the wrong hornet's nest?

Launch footage via Ruptly.


IrateNate's picture

Call to Help Desk:

"Was it plugged in?"