Testimony of Charles A. Zraket

Before the Legislation and National Security
Subcommittee of the Committee on
Govemment Operations on April 7, 1992

My name is Charles A. Zraket. I would like to thank the Subcommittee for this opportunity to testify on the performance of the Patriot system during the Gulf War. I am currently Scholar-in-Residence at the Center for Science and Intemational Affairs of the Kennedy School of Govemment, Harvard University. Prior to my appointment there in 1990, I had been President and Chief Executive Officer of The MITRE Corporation in Bedford, Massachusetts. I am currently a Trustee of MITRE and have spent my professional career there from 1958 until my retirement in October 1990. I am a systems engineer by experience, a member of the National Academy of Engineering, and I have degrees in electrical engineering from Northeastem University and from M.I.T. A short biography is attached to this statement.

MITRE is a Federal Contract Research Center for the DoD. Its mission is to do the systems engineering for various command, control communication, and intelligence (C3I) systems of the Air Force, Army, and Navy. During 1991, MITRE conducted a classified study for the JCS on the performance of C3I systems during the Gulf War, including those C3I systems serving the Patriot missile system. I have had access to that study. Also, with others from the Kennedy School at Harvard, I have had three comprehensive briefings during the past year from technical managers of the Raytheon Company that described the Patriot system and its performance in the Gulf War. These briefings were classified.

To complete this background, during December 1991, and January, 1992, I had an exchange of articles with Professor Theodore Postol of M.I.T. and Mr. Reuven Pedatzur, an Israeli analyst, in the Defense News issues of 2 and 9 December, 1991, and 13 and 20 January, 1992. In these articles, we discussed among other things, the methodology and the analyses they had used to assess Patriot performance in Israel. I concluded fiom this exchange that the methodology described by Professor Postol and Mr. Pedatzur in their articles was not scientifically valid and therefore did not prove that Patiiot didn't work in the Gulf War. Also, they had offered no substantive analysis of the results in Saudi Arabia, where deployment of Patriot, the level of training of operational crews, and the nature of the SCUD engagements were quite different from the situation in Israel.

I will now briefly discuss my views on Patriot performance in the Gulf War and what this means for the future. I understand that the U.S. Army, Dr. Peter Zimmerman, representatives from Raytheon, and others will give statements describing and analyzing various methodologies on measuring performance of the Patriot system and discuss much technical data on the performance of Patriot in the Gulf War. I am familiar with this information and accordingly, then, I will omit the technical descriptions and detailed analyses that those reports cover and make only a brief summary statement of my own conclusions on Patriot performance.

The uncertainty in determining Patriot's actual shot-by-shot performance in the Gulf War comes about from the lack of high-speed, high-resolution photography and digital-data radar recordings of intercepts that could pmvide direct and valid scientific data. The use of video tapes taken during the Gulf War are not a valid substitute, as Dr. Zimmerman has pointed out in his statement. Since many successful Patriot engagements will not produce an easily identifiable catastrophic kill of the SCUD warhead but may dud or divert it from the target area, then the disabling of the SCUD fuze mechanism, the loss of integrity of the warhead, and other damage-reducing results can only be assessed by inspection of SCUD debris and the amount of damage caused on the ground. Given the absence of a catastrophic explosion causing great damage, the lethality of a SCUD or parts of a SCUD hitting the ground can only be determined by examining the location and size of the resulting ground craters and the associated debris and any dudded or unexploded warheads in the impact area.

Along with tape recordings that may show successful intercepts, this was the methodology used by the Israel Defense Force (IDF) and the U.S. Army to measure Patriot performance; the IDF did the ground inspection of SCUD impact areas in Israel, and the U.S. Army did those in Saudi Arabia. In Saudi Arabia, the Army has reported that they inspected the SCUD impact areas for craters, debris, and damage by using Explosive Ordinance Device teams, eyewitness observations, still photographs, and some system data recordings. Analysis of this data on SCUD engagements resulted in the published 80% success rate in Saudi Arabia. I believe that this indirect method is the most reliable proof of Patriot performance in Saudi Arabia which exists at this time. There may have been shortcomings in the data collected by the Army due to the war situation but I am unaware of any other data set available from which accurate performance can be derived.

I believe it would be impossible for the Army at this late stage, given that they were in a war at the time, to prove conclusively: 1) that they inspected rigorously every inch of all possible SCUD impact areas; and 2) why all scientific methods possible to examine craters were not used.

To fully understand Patriot's accomplishment in the Gulf War, it is useful to recall that up to late 1986, Patriot was strictly a highly effective air defense system. After a decision was made in 1984 by the Army to give it an anti-tactical ballistic missile (ATBM) capability, a series of modifications and additions were made to the system software (PAC-1) and to the missile warhead and fuze (PAC-2). These upgrades were then fully tested, manufactured and deployed in Saudi Arabia on time for Desert Storm. This system was designed to defend military targets such as bases against relatively short-range tactical ballistic missiles. This was to be its measure of success. Given this situation, it is no wonder that retired Israeli General Arihu Ben-Nun was recently quoted in the press (Boston Globe, 19 March 1992) as saying "it is a considerable achievement that the Patriot worked at all given the Patriot's original design as an anti-aircraft weapon and the unexpected difficulties caused by the Iraqi al-Hussein missiles."

In sum, as a result of my reviews and analyses, I have concluded that:

  1. Patriot performed in the Gulf War at least as well and probably much better than might have been expected beforehand, given the unanticipated nature of the threat. It was a credible, effective performance that warrants credit to the U.S. Army, the IDF, Raytheon and the other contractors who built the system.
  2. I believe that the most reliable evidence available indicates that ground damage and casualties were significantly reduced over what they might have been in Saudi Arabia and Israel if Patriot had not been deployed.
  3. Patriot performed more than well enough to warrant high-priority support for future upgrades, especially since their cost is relatively small compared to the capabilities that will be provided.

The Patriot Advanced Capability (PAC) II and PAC-III, in conjunction with a mobile Ground-Based Radar (GBR) for long-range surveillance, will provide a system with a greatly enlarged defense footprint, much higher intercept altitudes, greater deployment flexibility, a new seeker and fuzing system, and enhanced countermeasures and tracking capabilities. With these changes, I believe that the Patriot system, in addition to its anti-aircraft and anti-cruise missile capabilities, will remain a highly cost-effective deterrent and warfighting system against tactical ballistic missiles with ranges in the many hundreds of miles and with conventional unitary warheads. Such missiles are now deployed worldwide and constitute a major threat to many U.S. allied nations. Research in new defense- warhead capabilities should continue aggressively in order to counter potential chemical and nuclear warheads delivered by missiles. Current missiles, used as terror weapons, constitute a threat that must be countered by active defense capabilities, especially considering the value of the targets to be defended. Upgraded Patriot systems offer the only active defense against such threats in theatres around the world that will be available operationally at least for the next decade.

Mr. Chairman, thank you again for the opportunity to present these views. I commend you for calling these hearings to get at the truth on this important matter.


Charles A. Zraket is Scholar-in-Residence at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, and a Trustee and past President and Chief Executive Officer of The MITRE Corporation.

Mr. Zraket is also a Trustee of Northeastern University, the Center for Naval Analyses, and the Hudson Institute. He is a Member of the National Academy of Engineering, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers. He has a B.S.E.E. from Northeastern University, an M.S.E.E. from M.I.T., and an honorary Doctorate of Engineering from Northeastem University.

Mr. Zraket is a Member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a Consultant to the Defense Science Board. He has been awarded the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service. He is also Chairman of the Committee on International Secunty Studies of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science Committee on Science and International Security and a Member of the Advisory Council of the Carnegie Commission on Science, Technology, and the Govemment.

10/7/91