Killing two British pilots and shooting down a U.S. Navy fighter was just the beginning. The Patriot missile defense system had a slew of problems during the Iraq invasion -- problems which are only now slowly coming to light."Spurious 'ghost' missile tracks showed up on Patriot Missile battery radars hundreds of times before and during the invasion, causing chaos and confusion as soldiers struggled to determine the real from the false," notes KTVT-TV reporter Robert Riggs, who's been leading the press' investigation of the anti-missile system. "Soldiers operating the multi-billion systems had only malfunctioning cell phones with which to communicate with other batteries in often-futile efforts to learn whether targets were real."All that contrasts -- big time -- from official accounts of the Patriot's performance. The U.S. Army, in a recent report, claimed the system had a "perfect record." The British Ministry of Defence, in its run-down of a Patriot "friendly fire" incident, tried to pin the blame on poor American "firing doctrine and training," the Register notes. Human error, in other words.Wrong, wrong, wrong, says Riggs.
Some 12 hours before the shoot down of the [British plane], according to logs of the air battle, one battery fired at a target that did not exist. The records state that on the third day of the war a missile battery "auto engaged a spurious track. Missile fired before they could override. Space command confirmed spurious..."Victoria Samson, a spokeswoman for the Center For Defense Information, an independent defense department watchdog group, said the Army is trying to blame the friendly fire incidents on anything but the Patriot missile defense system."The technology seems to be sacrosanct. The people not so much," she said.