Why Were Scud Casualties So Low?

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1993-01-28

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Steve Fetter, George N. Lewis, and Lisbeth Gronlund, "Why Were Scud Casualties So Low?" Nature (28 January 1993), pp. 293–296.

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Abstract

Patriot missiles were returned to the Gulf last week. But they were not the reason for the unexpectedly low casualty rate when Saddam attacked Israel with Scud missiles in 1991. Iraq fired more than 80 modified Scud missiles at Israel and Saudi Arabia during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. These attacks caused 31 deaths, numerous injuries, and substantial property damage. With the exception of the Scud that hit a barracks in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, and killed 28 U.S. soldiers, however, the number of deaths and serious injuries caused by each Scud appear to be much lower than one would have expected based on the results of previous ballistic missile attacks. The relatively low casualty rate has been cited by several analysts as evidence of the success of the Patriot missile defense system. Others have argued that the same casualty data suggests that the Patriot may not have been very successful.

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