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Michael Duitsman Sep 17
You know who I feel sorry for in Saudi Arabia right now? The Air Defense Forces officer in charge of the short range air defenses at the Abqaiq oil facility. He'll be lucky to get out of this with his life. 1/7
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Michael Duitsman Sep 17
Replying to @DuitsyWasHere
On paper, the point air defenses at the Abqaiq oil processing facility are rather formidable... by 1995 standards, at least. A battery of Shahine SAMs (French system from the early 1980's) 3 or 4 anti-aircraft gun sections, each with 2 twin 35mm cannons and a fire control unit
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Michael Duitsman Sep 17
Replying to @DuitsyWasHere
Except that none of those systems were designed to intercept cruise missiles, and against aircraft-sized targets, the Shahine and Skyguard radars have a 20km detection range. Against smaller targets, like a drone or cruise missile, the detection range (& warning time) is shorter.
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Michael Duitsman Sep 17
Replying to @planetlabs
4/7 The attackers knew this, and didn't waste cruise missiles on the air defense sites, as shown in post-strike images. Perhaps they flew drones into the radars, but either way, if the strike package arrived simultaneously, it would easily overwhelm Abqaiq's defenses.
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Michael Duitsman Sep 17
Replying to @DuitsyWasHere
5/7 Even if the air defenses did respond, they were short-handed - the south-eastern and south-western gun emplacements were empty. And with old equipment defending a site well inside of Saudi Arabia, these probably weren't the RSADF's elite troops.
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Michael Duitsman
6/7 So, yeah, the Saudi military has some questions to answer, but at the same time, there wasn't a whole lot they could do, especially at the short-range end of the spectrum.
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Michael Duitsman Sep 17
Replying to @DuitsyWasHere
7/7 Addendum: I only figured out the Shahine site using Sean O'Connor's 2013 SAM site file. Confirming it was a bit of a chore - the identity of the vehicles wasn't apparent until I saw this 2018 Google Earth image. The silhouettes of the radar antenna and launchers are obvious.
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Michael Duitsman Sep 18
Replying to @DuitsyWasHere
8/7 Ack! Turns out I missed the Patriot battery (or two) located next to Abqaiq. My sincere apologies.
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Michael Duitsman Sep 18
Replying to @DuitsyWasHere
9/7 Yup, that's definitely a Patriot battery to the east of Abqaiq. Looks like it was fairly empty on September 16, though. (Aspect ratio on that Planet image might be weird, had to play with it in Powerpoint to get it to display right)
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Michael Duitsman Sep 18
Replying to @planetlabs
10/7 The Patriot site to the southwest of Abqaiq is also apparently real. A image taken earlier today shows that it is occupied. After dinner I'll start a new thread on the specific problems faced by the defending forces.
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