- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 7, 2003

WASHINGTON, Jan. 7 (UPI) — The Army awarded a $341 million contract Tuesday for 88 PAC-3 Patriot missiles, an updated version of the Patriots that received mixed reviews against Iraqi Scud missiles during the Gulf War, Lockheed Martin announced.

The PAC-3 (Patriot Advanced Capability-3) is a smaller and more accurate version of the anti-missile system that picked up the nickname "Scud-buster" during the Gulf War for knocking out Iraqi missiles launched against Saudi Arabia and Israel, but later came under criticism when post-war studies showed a significant number of misses and problems with intact warheads from Scuds that were crippled by Patriots falling to earth and exploding.

"The PAC-3 missile works," reassured Lockheed Martin Senior Vice President Ed Squires. "It is a quantum leap ahead of any other air-defense missile when it comes to the ability to protect (troops)."

The original Patriot was designed to explode in the immediate vicinity of an incoming Scud and either destroy the missile or knock it off course where, with a bit of luck, it would hit the ground in an uninhabited area. The PAC-3 is a "body-to-body" weapon, meaning it would strike the enemy missile directly, destroying both it and its warhead far above the ground.

"The PAC-3 is the world's most effective hit-to-kill air-defense missile, and we're pleased to provide the U.S. Army with this powerful system," enthused Squires.

In addition to its improved radar and tracking sensors, the PAC-3 is smaller in size. Sixteen PAC-3s can be loaded into a Patriot launcher as opposed to only four of the earlier Patriot models.

Lockheed said the recent tests of PAC-3s at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico were successful against missiles such as the Scud and also against target cruise missiles and planes.

(Reported by Hil Anderson in Los Angeles)

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