PATRIOT-PLANE POSTMORTEM

During Gulf War II, the Iraqis acknowledged coalition dominance of the skies, and put almost no planes in the air.So why were Patriot missiles shooting at allied planes during the conflict?It's one of several questions being asked about the Patriot system in the Iraq fight postmortem."We ruled the skies in Iraq, so almost by definition any aircraft up there was either ours or British," Philip Coyle, a former Pentagon testing director, tells the Los Angeles Times.But, apparently, the system has trouble telling the difference between friendly aircraft and enemy missiles. The Patriots destroyed two coalition planes -- a British Tornado GR4 and a U.S. Navy F/A-18C Hornet -- and locked radar on a third, an F-16.As noted a month ago, the new "PAC-3" Patriot system only destroyed its target twice in seven tries during operational testing. The missiles seemed to have a better hit rate against Iraqi rockets during Gulf War II.

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