US Patriot Missiles Reportedly Failed During November Use in Riyadh

Missiles 'Missed' Yemeni Ballistic Missile

A November 4 incident in which Yemen fired a ballistic missile at a site near the airport in the Saudi capital of Riyadh was presented at the time as having been foiled by US Patriot missiles fired to intercept the missile. Experts are expressing growing doubts about that.

Researchers analyzing the remnants of the Yemeni missile, which actually did hit its intended target, say that the missile having split into two pieces was not a sign that the interceptors actually worked, but rather something the missile was built specifically to do.

Rather, the evidence suggests the Patriot missiles either missed their target entirely, or only hit the back half of the missile after the warhead was already split off of it, and either way it didn’t do any real good.

Missile defense systems, especially interceptors, are massively expensive, but their effectiveness has long been in serious doubt among scientists, who note that stated effectiveness rates for such defensive weapons are not only highly unlikely, but in many cases physically impossible give the nature of interception.

Patriot missiles are among the most wildly sold such missiles in the US arsenal, however, and if they really did have such a high-profile failure, it’s likely to damage the brand’s popularity as a weapon of export.

Last 5 posts by Jason Ditz

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of