What I find interesting is the claim that “decoys” were launched. The following tweet is the earliest mention I saw:
This may explain the discrepancy between US statement that all missiles launched hit their targets and Syrian claims that most were shot down.
A bit of research found mention of the Miniature Air Launched Decoy (MALD) which is a much cheaper and smaller air-launched missile that can mimic larger aircraft to divert interceptors and other defenses:
Once launched, the AGM-160A’s wings would pop out and its turbojet engine would ignite. It would then autonomously fly a pre-planned route and mimic a specific radar signature via is Signature Augmentation System (SAS). The SAS could accurately replicate radar signatures ranging from a lumbering B-52 Stratofortress to a stealthy F-117 nighthawk.
Given President Trump’s tweet about ‘nice and new and “smart!”’ missiles I’d guess these decoys now have the ability to mimic the radar signature of a cruise missile.
Which, of course, brings up another possible reason for this attack: they have a new toy and wanted to try it out.