Associated Retired Aviation Professionals

Anti-Aircraft Missile Launcher Discovered at Saudi Base Used by U.S. Planes (By Matt Kelley Associated Press Writer)

WASHINGTON (AP) - Security guards at a Saudi Arabian air base used by
U.S. planes found an empty tube from a shoulder-fired anti-aircraft
missile this week, military officials said Friday.

Saudi security guards at Prince Sultan Air Base found the missile
launcher about two miles from the nearest runway, said Rear Adm.
Craig Quigley, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command. The spot was
inside the base's outer perimeter fence and near an inner fence,
Quigley said.

A cover on the front of the launch tube was intact, but there were
scorch marks on the back of the tube, indicating it could have been
used to fire or try to fire a missile, Quigley said. The 3-foot-long
tube was for a Soviet-made SA-7 anti-aircraft missile.

The discovery has U.S. military officials puzzled and worried. No
pilots reported seeing, hearing or detecting any missiles fired, and
Quigley said he had no reports of any threats against the air base.

About 4,500 U.S. troops and an unspecified number of American
warplanes use the base in the Saudi desert.

"Right now it's a mystery about what it all means, whether it was
used or meant to be used," said Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Dave

Someone firing an SA-7 from the spot where the tube was found could
possibly have hit a plane taking off or landing at the air base,
Quigley said.

"It's not an ideal spot to put yourself if you wanted to shoot down a
plane. You could do better," Quigley said. "It's hard to know what to
make of it."

Quigley said he did not know what day the Saudi forces found the
missile tube. He said the Saudi forces photographed the tube and
destroyed it.

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