Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by msr, May 20, 2004.
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The plot thickens,,,
Rigg's latest report suggests that the Patriot system had persistently failed in correctly identifying hostile targets. Significantly, it reveals that there was a false missile firing incident just hours before the Tornado met its end. Furthermore, it contains evidence that Patriot's failings are being ignored, or even covered up, to protect several big-bucks contracts to supply the system to foreign governments.
Talking to chaps I know in the RAF I gained the impression that the technical issues were not new and were capable of being worked round by a competent trained crew. However, the crews in place were ill-trained, inexperienced and trigger-happy. Blaming the hardware may or may not be justified - but if someone with half a brain had their finger on the switch that missile would never have been fired. There was no scud warning in force, no aircraft was seen to launch the alleged ARM, the target was in formation with a Tornado squawking properly and where you'd expect a returning aircraft to be.
As the article said, the crews were trained to blindly trust the machine - even though the system was known not be be trustworthy. Comms links to the rest of the air defence network didn't work. All automatic classification systems make mistakes - any system that ignores this fact is inherently unsafe. I've worked on this sort of thing and machines are inherently poor at this - people are much better.
But while the operators may or may not have been idiots it looks like higher level systemic errors are the real problem. But it's not the American way for anyone senior to take responsibility for their actions so I guess nothing will change until the next time.
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