Analyze the three mysteries attacked by the Saudi oilfield

On the 14th, after the attack on two important oil facilities in Saudi Arabia, more information was revealed. However, there are still many mysteries that have not been solved around the attack on Saudi oil facilities. What weapons are they attacking Saudi oil facilities? Why did the US-made “Patriot” air defense missile system equipped by Saudi Arabia fail to intercept it successfully? Is there any way for Saudi Arabia to effectively defend against such attacks?

Why did the Patriots not intercept?

After the oil field was attacked, many media pointed their finger at the US-made “Patriot” air defense missile system equipped by Saudi Arabia.

The Associated Press quoted the British non-governmental organization Conflict Armament Research as saying that the U.S. U.S. helicopter drone successfully flew into the radar position of the “Patriot” air defense system deployed by Saudi Arabia, but the latter did not initiate the interception mechanism. Successfully let the missile enter Saudi territory. Indian media TheMilliGazette also said that the problems facing Saudi Arabia may not be related to the US Patriot missile system. In March of this year, it was reported that the US “Patriot” missile system did not play a role in Saudi Arabia. On March 25, when Saudi Arabia tried to intercept the attack against Riyadh, the “Patriot” missile missed the interception opportunity at least five times. Including no startup, or even interception failure.

Russia’s “Viewpoint” reported on the 16th that “Western air defense technology equipment lost in important examinations” said that Saudi oil facilities were attacked and showed that Saudi Arabia, which has advanced air defense systems such as the American “Patriot”, is unable to stop the Houthi armed forces. Human-machine attack. In fact, the Patriot air defense system failed to protect Saudi Arabia and Israel during the Gulf War in 1991. At that time, this air defense system could only intercept some of the former Soviet-era “Flying-leg” ballistic missiles used by Iraq, and the interception rate was extremely low. According to the report, the Saudi air defense forces strategically protect the two main directions: First, the northwest, which is used to protect Israel, which is regarded as a traditional enemy by Saudi Arabia. The second is the Northeast, and the main opponent in this direction is Iran. In these two directions, Saudi Arabia has concentrated on the deployment of advanced air defense systems such as the Patriot. In addition, the Patriot system is also used to protect the capital and nearby oil facilities. If missiles are fired from Iran, they may work and can be intercepted on the face. The launch of missiles or drones from the southwestern part of Yemen, the deployment of air defense systems in the capital region is powerless.

However, Chinese experts say it is still too early to attribute responsibility to the “Patriot” air defense system. Saudi Arabia should first review its own air defense radar warning network. The high probability in this incident is that the air defense radar network failed to effectively detect the incoming target. Fire control radars such as the “Patriot” air defense missile system will not start up 24 hours a day. Usually, after the air defense early warning radar network detects the threat target, the fire control radar of the air defense missile system will be turned on. If the air defense radar fails to find the target, the “Patriot” system will not start. In addition, although the far-off zone of the Patriots is more than 160 kilometers away, it is affected by the curvature of the earth. Its interception distance to ultra-low-altitude targets is only about 40 kilometers. If the drone or cruise missiles bypass the “patriots” through the route planning “The low-altitude kill zone, it can do nothing. Experts said that if the radar network finds the target, even if the “Patriot” missile can not intercept, it can also be intercepted by the fighter. At present, the Saudi Air Force has relatively advanced fighters such as “Typhoon” and F-15. The problem of intercepting drones and cruise missiles is not serious, but there is no information indicating that Saudi Arabia has sent fighters to intercept. ▲

What weapon is attacking Saudi Arabia?

After the attack, Houthi armed forces claimed to use 10 drones to carry out the attack, but social media public photos showed that some suspected cruise missiles were found near the target. So, what weapon is the attack?

Judging from the current published satellite photos, there are a number of large oil storage tanks that have been hit by “acupoints”, each of which has at least one hole that is penetrated. This aspect shows that the strike is more accurate, and on the other hand, it shows that this big probability is not caused by cruise missiles. Because the warhead of a cruise missile is usually around 500 kilograms, once it is penetrated by such a warhead and exploded inside, there is no problem with a large hole in the tank. Such damage may be caused by small ammunition or light suicide drones launched by drones. For unarmed civilian facilities, Houthi armed forces have certain technical capabilities for long-range strikes. Target positioning can be achieved relatively easily through existing Google satellites and on-site human reconnaissance. According to the United Nations investigators quoted by the Associated Press, the new UAV-X drones recently used by the Houthi forces may reach Saudi Arabia. The Houthi armed forces are also equipped with ground-launched ground-attack cruise missiles, including the Quds-1, which have previously been used against Saudi targets.

Judging from the satellite photos currently exposed, most of the targets have not been destroyed. Most of the targets are only damaged, not completely destroyed, so even if there are cruise missiles involved in the attack, it is not the main attack weapon. According to US media reports, the US government source, who asked not to be named, said that the intelligence showed that a total of 17 to 19 targets were damaged. Other US sources said that more than 20 suicide drones or missiles were involved in the attack. But they didn’t all hit the target. It is likely that the Houthi armed forces launched a mixed attack on suicide drones and missiles.

CNN said that a senior official said that there were 19 attacks in Saudi Arabia, which was somewhat different from the previous claim that the Yemeni armed forces claimed to have dispatched 10 drones. However, a Chinese expert told the Global Times that if the drone carries ammunition, it is theoretically capable.

Why did the Saudi air defense network fail to provide early warning?

At present, Saudi Arabia mainly provides remote warnings using AN/FPS-117 and AN/TPS-43 radars purchased from the United States and E-3 and Saab-2000 early warning aircraft. However, due to the influence of the curvature of the Earth, for ultra-low-altitude targets, ground-based early warning radars usually have a detection range of 30 to 40 kilometers. In particular, Saudi Arabia lacks a high-altitude position that can improve the low-altitude coverage of radar. It is almost impossible to carry out ultra-low-altitude coverage throughout the territory with radar deployed on the ground. In this case, drones or cruise missiles are easier to pass through the “slot” of the radar network.

Of course, the early warning machine can solve this problem better. However, the use of early warning aircraft is costly, and the number of early warning aircraft in Saudi Arabia is limited. I am afraid that it will not be able to form a 24-hour continuous duty. This may be the main reason why Saudi Arabia failed to respond effectively in this attack.

Experts said that before Saudi Arabia’s air defense layout and procurement of technical equipment mainly focused on defending high-altitude targets and anti-missile operations, it looked up more and looked less at the “lower-eye” ultra-low altitude. In the future, Saudi Arabia will solve the daily warning problems of drones and cruise missiles. On the one hand, it will increase the deployment density of ground radars and improve the ground-to-air coverage of terrestrial radars. On the other hand, it is possible to purchase an early warning aircraft to realize the 24-hour warning of the early warning aircraft. In addition, you can purchase balloon-borne radar. Balloon-borne radars have relatively low operating costs and have better detection effects for low-altitude, ultra-low-altitude targets. Of course, as far as reality is concerned, in the current period of intense tension, Saudi Arabia should strive to ensure the 24-hour off-air surveillance of the AWACS.

Experts believe that it is necessary to increase the appropriate air defense force, increase the deployment density, and improve the deployment structure. Although Saudi Arabia’s “Sade” anti-missile system is “high on the ground”, it does not have the ability to intercept low-altitude cruise missiles and drones. The early radar adopted by the Patriot air defense system is not conducive to the discovery of low-altitude targets. The minimum detection altitude for low-altitude targets reaches 300 meters, and it is basically impossible to intercept UAVs and cruise missiles flying at very low altitudes. Although the improved model has Doppler processing capability and can intercept cruise missiles, the choice of intercepting cruise missiles and intercepting ballistic missiles is completely different from the relative position of defending targets. Therefore, in order to intercept the ultra-low-altitude targets, some medium- and short-range air defense systems or ultra-low-altitude interception air defense missile systems, such as the Russian S-300 or S-400 systems, can be deployed near important targets. Up to 5 meters. Russian satellite network reported on the 17th that Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested that Riyadh purchase Russian S-400 or S-300 air defense missile system when answering questions at the press conference to help Saudi Arabia avoid the U.S. oil facility attack again. Take defense.

In addition, GPS interference control devices and specialized drone countermeasure systems can be deployed in the vicinity of some important civilian facilities.