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The United States Department of Defence has said that all Patriot PAC-2 missiles deployed in the Gulf, region and in South Korea have been replaced because depot level testing had indicated that some of the missile subsystems were not performing as designed. The replacement activity has taken ten days.

Explaining the problem to reporters yesterday, Lt Gen Paul Kern, Military Deputy for the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Logistics, Logistics and Technology, said that the problem had not yet been fully identified but "...one component that we know we have a problem with, which was reported, was the radio frequency downlink, an RFDL." The 'black box' sends signals back and forth between the ground station and to the missile. The Army and Raytheon, the PAC-2 missile manufacturer, were working hard to identify the underlying cause of the fault, Kern said. Replacement parts for the affected subsystem could cost $80,000-$100,000 and the number of missiles replaced was "...in the hundreds."

Kern identified the affected missiles as those that been on standby, on launchers for periods of six months or more. Missiles in reserve, in storage, were not affected. Missiles on standby have electric current passing through all the time, to maintain instant readiness and this is thought to have caused the malfunction.

Patriot, although originally designed as an anti aircraft weapon for the Cold War, was converted to an anti-missile during the Gulf War when it was used to defend against Scud missiles launched by Iraq. It is designed with an explosive warhead designed to detonate in close proximity to the target, destroying it either by a sympathetic detonation or by the fragments of the warhead. Because this method does not guarantee that enemy warheads containing chemical or biological will be totally destroyed, Raytheon is developing PAC-3, which operates as a hit-to-kill missile.

The United States has warned the seven countries (Israel, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Taiwan, Japan, Germany and the Netherlands) to which Patriot has been sold of the problem, but not until three days ago. It is probable that the first four, which have identifiable threats may face the same problems.

Kern said that the United States did not had sufficient stocks of PAC-2 missiles to replace those sold overseas, if that was requested.

Defence Systems Daily 24.03.2000

Армия США провела замену всех ракет Patriot PAC-2, которые находились в состоянии полной боевой готовности. Решение о замене было принято после того, как были обнаружены признаки повреждения отдельных компонентов ракет. Это произошло раньше срока, указанного в спецификации производителя ракет компании Raytheon. Большинство ракет Patriot PAC-2 развернуты в Южной Корее и на Ближнем Востоке для защиты войск США от угрозы ударов баллистических ракет.
Компания Raytheon гарантирует исправность ракет, находящихся в состоянии полной боевой готовности, в течение 6 месяцев. Армия США держала ракеты в таком состоянии годами, заменяя 50-70 из них для проведения испытаний и диагностических проверок в полевых условиях. Замена ракет Patriot PAC-2 была проведена в течение одной недели в секретном режиме. Только после этого информация о неисправностях была доведена до сведения стран, имеющих на вооружении эти ракеты (Израиль, Саудовская Аравия и Германия). По мнению специалистов, у этих стран не обязательно возникнут схожие проблемы, поскольку они не держат ракеты в состоянии полной боевой готовности, как США.

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