Saudi Arabia’s U.S.-made air-defense systems failed to repel the Abqaiq–Khurais attack because they fall short of the declared parameters, a senior source at the Ministry of Defense of Russia told the media on September 19.
The Russian official said that Saudi Arabia has 36 PAC-2 and 52 newer PAC-3 Patriots, adding that three U.S. destroyers armed with the air defense system Aegis and 100 missiles SM-2 were present near the Kingdom’s shores in the time of the attack.
According to US and Saudi sources, the attack was carried out with dozens of cruise missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
“The question arises how come such a strong air defense let through dozens of drones and cruise missiles? There can be only one reason for this: the much-advertised US systems Patriot and Aegis fall short of the officially declared parameters. Their effectiveness against small air targets and cruise missiles is low … they are unprepared for repelling the enemy’s massive air attacks in real combat situations,” the source said, according to the Russian news agency, TASS.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo commented on the failure of U.S.-made systems by saying that “even the best air defenses sometimes fail.” The Russian official said that Pompeo’s excuses might be accepted only if a single Patriot system protecting an attacked facility was involved.
The attack caused severe damage in Abqaiq and Khurais facilities, hindering Saudi Arabia’s oil exports for days. Recent reports said that the Kingdom is now seeking South Korea’s help to improve its air-defense capabilities.