MIM-104 Patriot Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) System
The poor showing of the Patriot missile battery early in its career eventually led to the more refined form in use today.
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The MIM-104 "Patriot" air defense missile system became a household name when it appeared on the global stage during the 1991 Gulf War. It was used in defense of Israel and Saudi Arabia from incoming Iraqi SCUDS aimed at civilian quarters. Initial reports deemed an interception success rate nearing 100% which popularized the system as one of the most effective Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) systems anywhere in the world. However, it was later found that the missiles managed a success rate closer to 40% and lower which led to several major upgrades in the line. Today, the Patriot is regarded as a vastly improved SAM system and has been taken on by many U.S. allies including Israel, Saudi Arabia and South Korea.
Design work on the missile that would become the Patriot began in the late 1960s at a time when the missile was still evolving as a viable air defense weapon system. Design work included names such as Raytheon, Hughes and RCA. In 1975, a missile successfully intercepted and unmanned drone over the storied White Sands Missile Range. Continually evolved from there, the weapon was named "Patriot" and adopted for U.S. Army service in the early 1980s under the designation of "MIM-104". Service began in 1981 with large-scale deployment beginning in 1984. By 1991 and the Gulf War, the system had been considerably updated, adding some missile-interception qualities which broadened its tactical value.
To date, the Patriot system has been produced in 1,280 launcher units with over 10,000 missiles in circulation. The United States Army stock alone totals some 1,100 Patriot launcher units.