September 12, 2013

Question: Syrian air defenses?

Russian weapons makers are claiming that the air defenses supplied to Syria are almost foolproof against manned aircraft and can shoot down half the Tomahawk missiles. (Half doesn't sound like a winning strategy, though.) Some of my readers know vastly more than I do about military affairs, so, how much of this is marketing and how much is reality?

74 comments:

Anonymous said...

Didn't the Israelis show that Syrian air defenses are quite penetrable? I believe the Russians are only supplying more of what they already have. Whether American pilots can imitate the performance of Israeli pilots remains to be seen. I hope we don't have to find out.

Anonymous said...

It's unlikely to be very accurate. The US has a lot of practice in taking down air defenses, and the Syrians are not noted for their military efficiency the the best of circumstances. After a couple years of civil war they're not likely to be in tippy-top shape.

A lot depends on electronic warfare--how to spoof the radars and the information systems that tie them together. The US has aircraft dedicated to that task.

It looks like most of the Syrian air defenses are from the Soviet era--SA-2s, though they do have some smaller numbers of more modern equipment. The Russians typically sell 2nd and 3rd tier equipment to the export market, so even if the Syrians have high performance S-300 anti-aircraft missiles they are likely to have degraded or older versions that are not as effective. And then a bunch of anti-aircraft artillery.

jody said...

does war nerd write anymore?

(that article posted right before benghazi was an obvious fake, somebody else wrote that pretending to be him)

Lucius said...

Proof is in the pudding; and, as with most 3rd or 4th generation military hardware, we haven't really seen an even contest yet.

But in theory, yes. I would be surprised, in fact, if they don't serve about as well as advertised.

Russians (in part because of extent of territory) have always taken long-range air defense seriously. In Soviet times, there was a separate branch of armed forces for SAM and long-range interceptor defense.

The big issue is: the USA hasn't had to commit to real hardware losses in war since Vietnam. Obviously "no one really cares" about infantry attrition. But if six squadrons of F-16s sortied today and only five came home, the whole system would convulse. Never mind those sort of losses are reasonable, even sustainable. The Gulf War didn't put a scratch in the machines, and ever since this is what both the brass and the public have depended upon, psychologically. People are allowed to die; the machines "dying" would be a shock of a different magnitude.

My great fear is someone will sink a Nimitz (shouldn't be so hard, under the "right" circumstances) and, our fearless leaders realizing there's no way they can manage another invasion/occupation, they'll just up the ante straight to nukes.

And then, in penance, we'll relocate the entire surviving population of the nukee, as well as six or seven neighbours, to Nebraska.

Sean said...

It's BS. If the US does do a strike it will be a limited one and the main problem will be not hitting Syria so hard that the Assad regime immediately folds.

Accepting help from Russia is greasing the skids to destruction. Iran is doing exactly what its enemy (guess who) wants by getting military and nuclear assistance from Russia. It's the perfect excuse for a preemptive strike, and is going to get Iran attacked by the US in the near future.

jnc said...

From what I've read, while Syria has a lot of SAM systems, the great majority are Soviet era equipment with hardly any upgrades which are completely vulnerable to Western Air Forces. They do have some modern systems (SA-17) which could be a threat, but these are few in number so unlikely to be relevant.

In summary what Russian weapon makers are supposedly saying is almost certainly not true.

It's a bit dated, but here you can read a good analysis of Syrian Air Defenses.

Dave Pinsen said...

If memory serves, Iraqis hit a few Tomahawks during the first Gulf War. They are basically unmanned, low-flying jets. I think in one case, a damaged Tomahawk veered off course and struck a civilian bomb shelter, killing a bunch of women and children.

Luke Lea said...

All marketing, almost by definition, since they have never been tested.

Ichabod Crane said...

Assad doesn't strike me as a crazy person. He is an ophthalmologist in England who was drafted into becoming the dictator of Syria when his older brother died. In interviews he doesn't come across as a sociopath. To be clear, I dislike him for supporting our enemies in the Iraq war, but I feel an Assad dictatorship has more potential for stability and peace than any of the alternatives, including Syrian democracy.

David Davenport said...

The Israelis successfully attacked a road convoy and "scientific research centre" near Damascus last January without much trouble:


Syria threatens to retaliate after Israeli air strikes

Syria threatens to retaliate after Israeli air strikes - as it happened

• Iran says Tel Aviv faces 'significant implications'
• Assad's allies condemn Israeli air attack near Damascus
• Cameron makes surprise visit to Libya
• Egypt's politicians agree to renounce violence

...

Matthew Weaver and Jon Henley

theguardian.com, Friday 1 February 2013 06.47 EST


• Israeli warplanes have attacked a target inside Syria following several days of heightened warnings from government officials over Syria's stockpiles of weapons. Syrian state media said that military command had confirmed a "scientific research centre" north-west of Damascus was struck at dawn on Wednesday, causing damage. Two people were killed and five wounded in the attack on the site, which was engaged in "raising the level of resistance and self-defence". American officials, confirmed that US was notified about the attack, and said they believed the target was a convoy carrying sophisticated anti-aircraft weaponry intended for Hezbollah in Lebanon, according to the New York Times.

• Russia said it was "deeply concerned" about the Israeli air strike. In a statement on the Russian foreign ministry's website it said if confirmed the unprovoked attack was an unacceptable violation of the UN charter.

...

Anonymous said...

The Russkies have the world's only phased array VHF radar designed specifically against stealth aircraft.

http://www.ausairpower.net/APA-Rus-Low-Band-Radars.html

"The meeting of wavelengths between radar and aircraft causes resonation between the two, significantly raising an aircraft's reflection in the radar spectrum, making it much more visible. VHF radar has been incorporated into the Russian military's 1L119 Nebo SVU, its first VHF-band active electronically steered array (AESA); although detailed analysis of this vehicle-mounted array, Russian sources report it has achieved excellent results in spotting stealth aircraft"

http://www.airforce-technology.com/features/feature128011

The S-300/ S-400 missile systems are top tier stuff. Syria has ordered S-300 SAM systems.

http://www.ausairpower.net/APA-S-300PMU2-Favorit.html

David Davenport said...

Russia to revamp air-space defenses by 2020 - Air Force chief

© RIA Novosti. Anton Denisov


15:00 11/08/2009


Related News
Russia to spend $15 bln on armed forces in 2010
Russia's fifth generation combat aircraft to fly by late 2008-Ivanov-1
Govt. commission to view fifth generation air-defense system
Russia's space defenses stage a revival


MOSCOW, August 11 (RIA Novosti) - Russia will create a new generation of air and space defenses to counter any strikes against its territory by 2020 due to a potential foreign threat, the Air Force commander said on Tuesday.

"By 2030...foreign countries, particularly the United States, will be able to deliver coordinated high-precision strikes from air and space against any target on the whole territory of Russia," Col. Gen. Alexander Zelin said, referring to the potential for new hypersonic and space-based offensive weapons.

"That is why the main goal of the development of the Russian Air Force until 2020 is to create a new branch of the Armed Forces, which would form the core of the country's air and space defenses to provide a reliable deterrent during peacetime, and repel any military aggression with the use of conventional and nuclear arsenals in a time of war," the general said.

According to Zelin, all Russian Air Force units will be constantly combat-ready by 2020.

"We are planning to conduct a gradual transition of Air Force units to a constant combat-ready status...and accomplish this task by 2020," the commander said.

During this period, the Air Force will bring combat units to full strength, equip them with modernized and new weaponry, and significantly improve combat training of military pilots.

Zelin said under the new concept, air-space defense brigades will be created within Russia's Air Force, and they will be equipped with advanced S-400 and planned S-500 air defense systems.

"In line with the new air-space defense concept, we have already formed a number of brigades, which will be armed with S-400 and S-500 air defense systems," Zelin said at a news conference in Moscow.

The S-400 Triumf (SA-21 Growler) is designed to intercept and destroy airborne targets at a distance of up to 400 kilometers (250 miles), twice the range of the U.S. MIM-104 Patriot, and 2 1/2 times that of Russia's S-300PMU-2.

The system is also believed to be able to destroy stealth aircraft, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles, and is effective at ranges up to 3,500 kilometers (2,200 miles) and speeds up to 4.8 kilometers (3 miles) per second.

Russia's Defense Ministry considers the delivery of S-400 air defense missile systems to the Russian Armed Forces a priority, and wants the defense industry to increase the production of these systems despite the current economic crisis.

The fifth-generation S-500 air defense system, which is currently in the blueprint stage and is expected to be rolled out by 2012, would outperform the S-400 as well as the U.S. Patriot Advanced Capability-3 system.

"The S-500 system is being developed under a unique design...and will be capable of destroying hypersonic and ballistic targets," the general said.

Meanwhile, the Soviet-era MiG-31 Foxhound supersonic interceptor aircraft will most likely be used as part of the new air-space defense network, as was intended when it was designed.

"We are upgrading this system to be able to accomplish the same [air-space defense] tasks," Zelin said.

According to some sources, Russia has over 280 MiG-31 aircraft in active service and about 100 aircraft in reserve.

Anonymous said...

S-400

http://www.ausairpower.net/APA-S-400-Triumf.html

S-500

http://www.ausairpower.net/APA-S-500-Triumfator-M.html

stari_momak said...

I doubt the air defenses will be very effective, though during a long campaign one or two Scott O'Grady's might be expected.

Then again, as we found in Kosovo, air power isn't all it's cracked up to be either. Serb forces in the province weren't all that degraded in actual capabilities -- it was only our functioning as the KLA's tactical air wing, i.e limiting Serbian mobility and ability to counteract the rebels on the ground, that forced Milosevic's hand.

That would appear to be the likely scenario in this coming war.

Anonymous said...

Here's Janes' take:

3 IHS 3 September 2013
IHS Jane’s Capabilities Briefing | Syria in focus

Syria operates an integrated air-defence system (IADS) that provides interlaced surface-to-air missile positions
backed by numerous anti-aircraft artillery emplacements. As such, the IADS potentially represents a significant risk
to low-altitude operations by co-operative targets, helicopters, and cruise missiles prior to network degradation.
• The IADS is highlighted by a limited number of modern, survivable surface-to-air missile assets, specifically
the Pantsir-S1 (SA-22 ‘Greyhound’), Buk-M2E (SA-17 ‘Grizzly’), and Pechora-2M. These have not yet been
encountered in combat by Western air forces and are likely deployed to protect Syria’s most sensitive military
and political infrastructure.
• However, there is a notable overreliance on ageing Soviet-era technology that has already been encountered
and exploited by Western air arms. As such, the bulk of the network does not represent a significant threat to
modern combat aircraft, although any threat system should be regarded as potentially dangerous.

Whiskey said...

The US under Clinton (remember the Peace Dividend) cut the military substantially. Bush restored a bit of it, but not really much for either the Navy or Air Force or naval/air force strike aircraft and refueling aircraft and supply aircraft.

And it is a misnomer to say the US can "afford" (it cannot) major losses in infantry or pilots.

The US F-16 and F-18 are old aircraft. Later Russian models are higher performance: greater speed, smaller turning radius, more manueverability. Etc. Where the US shines is in the TRAINING of the pilots. Skilled pilots don't come out of flight simulators, it takes years of pulling heavy Gs in flight combat school to evade attacking aircraft and ground missiles. The US can't lose many pilots and operate effectively. That's also true for ground forces. Its a small, volunteer army and lose say, 15,000 men in battle and you'd have hell to pay to simply operate effectively. That's the downside of highly professionalized armed forces, they don't tolerate *HIGH* casualties the way mass levies do (conscripts). And even those groups break eventually.

The Nimitz argument is spot on. Reagan envisioned a naval build up that would allow a design margin. We could lose one, two, or even three carriers and still operate effectively with a 700 ship navy and around 20 carriers. We have IIRC around ten, and a 300 ship navy. That's too few to dominate the seas.

Whiskey said...

Which is the point that Taleb misses in Anti-Fragility. Having a big, robust, design margin military lets a nation absorb losses and still keep up its ability to hurt other nations. Very seriously. A global hegemon can and will extract its price: its currency is the most valuable (it is a call on its protection), it can tolerate inefficiencies and idiosyncrasies that other nations cannot, it can buy social peace at home with expansion abroad, and insure a global market for things it sells and cut rate import rates for things it buys.

These all have real values, generally higher than the cost of being a hegemon (blood, money).

Places like Finland, Singapore, and Iceland all exist at the mercy of larger, more powerful neighbors, have to have everything squared away, and have no real margin for failure the way say, the UK did in its day or we do today. Heck the USSR as semi-global hegemon was able to tolerate a laughable economic system and shoddy workmanship on almost everything for nearly its entire life because it was militarily very powerful.

As far as Russian air defense systems are, I would imagine quite good and able to knock out considerable amounts of US missiles and planes. They most certainly could sink a carrier at least. Russian subs have surfaced right aft of US carriers undetected just to do it, in recent years. To send that message.

Because Clinton, Bush, and most horribly Obama cut the military to the bone, a loss of a carrier would be akin to the loss of the Hood, and Prince of Wales, all at the same time, to the British in WWII. And this means that the US ability to intimidate nations into doing things it wants short of war is either gone or rapidly going. With all that entails. This is not Reagan's navy any more.

Peter Swinson said...

Don't know about the S300 capabilities as supplied to the Syrians. We have assets at Aviano, Italy and USN FA-18E in the Med. When Russians fly TU-95's to Alaska we counter with F15D's out of Elmendorf even though we have F22 wing based there.

This is lose-lose for US to allow Russians to practice on our frontline equipment for a no value target to the US.

If we send F16s out of Aviano or FA18E off Navy ships we will lose some.

Whole things seems like a stupid idea. All downside, no upside.

Anonymous said...

I think one reason Jews and Russians don't get along is that are both absurdly prone to chutzpah.

My cow gives vodka instead of milk.
Oh yea my cow gives liquid gold, kosher liquid gold.
Exeunt pogrom.

Also Putin doesn't get that you can't bitch slap a bigger pimp unless you are damn sure he won't get back up. The USA is so much stronger than russia that what does all this accomplish. I mean if Obama were a king it would make sense but best case scenario he spends the next three years with his tail between his legs and then he's gone. The US shook off the carter malaise literally on Inauguration Day so humiliate Obama doesn't really help Putin long term. I mean look at this way he has demoralized the party that wanted to improve relations and not give Poland a defense sheild. If he keeps this up president Cruz or whoever is gonna stick icbms in Poland. Should a country that's going to need American aid to defend Siberia really piss the US off. If Putin sits on his hands NATO likely dissolves within 20 years instead he's going to wake up with NATO troops in Georgia. Until Putin figures out a way to seek our Mediterranean fleet he's just flexing on horseback.

Anonymous said...

Those migs will last about four days when the shooting starts. That's if Russia is defending. Russia is incapable of mounting an ariel offensive against any core NATO nation for more than a few days. Look at it this way Russia is in the same situation they were when the Saudis turned on the spigots and turned perestroika into collapse. Only now its the us which can turn the spigots on in addition to Saudi arabia

Anonymous said...

When the Israelis destroyed the Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007, they were able to completely defeat the Russian made Syrian air defenses - the Syrian radars didn't even light up. It's not clear what the Israelis did to accomplish this - there was even speculation that the Israelis had back doors in the chips that controlled the system and were simply able to send out a kill command. But whatever it was, they were able to totally compromise the Syrian defenses.

I would assume that the Israelis are sharing their know how with the Americans on this. Israeli-US intelligence co-operation is not a 1 way street.

I would rate this kind of Russian braggadocio at around 1 on the credibility scale, along the lines of Khrushchev boast that he was going to bury America.

K

Dave Pinsen said...

There must have been a big degradation in Russian air defense capability after Vietnam. Russian-made planes and anti-aircraft weapons took their toll on US air power during the Vietnam War, and 14 years or so after our last bombing run over North Vietnam, a German kid lands his plane in Red Square.

"the USA hasn't had to commit to real hardware losses in war since Vietnam."

From a year ago: "The U.S. Suffered Its Worst Airpower Loss Since Vietnam Last Week and No One Really Noticed".

"Look at it this way Russia is in the same situation they were when the Saudis turned on the spigots and turned perestroika into collapse. Only now its the us which can turn the spigots on in addition to Saudi arabia"

You're looking at the supply side. Don't forget the demand side: lots more cars on the streets of China and elsewhere today than 20 years ago.

Anonymous said...

Worry about the anti ship missiles, Israel didn't waist it's time on Syrian AA missiles only anti shipping. Hezbollah hit an Israeli patrol boat. Serbia shot down 1 or some say 2 stealth bombers. Argentina was effective during the Falklands war. 1986 Syria shot down a US A-6 Intruder.

David said...

>Russian weapons makers are claiming that the air defenses supplied to Syria are almost foolproof against manned aircraft and can shoot down half the Tomahawk missiles.<

I liked this script better when Baghdad Bob was reading it. He had style.

>an Assad dictatorship has more potential for stability and peace than any of the alternatives, including Syrian democracy<

Which is why Israel would like to see Assad removed. Its biggest anxiety seems to be over having stable countries for neighbors.

Anonymous said...

No one really knows. These systems have never been tested in combat conditions.

What I would be confident of is that the Syrians will run out of S300 before the US runs out of Tomahawks, but it may place some economic limit on the commitment.

I suspect the largest problem these defences might cause is that Obama will expect zero aircrew casualties. This is pretty unreasonable, but given that is how it is, the S300 system has a high chance of shooting down >0 planes and this may be a show-stopper politially.

Anonymous said...

When Russians fly TU-95's to Alaska we counter with F15D's out of Elmendorf even though we have F22 wing based there.

Actually, F-22s have previously been tasked to intercept Russian Tu-95 ("Bear") strategic bombers that entered the Alaska Air Defense Identification Zone.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Raptor_and_TU-95.jpg

The USAF has also used them to intercept Russian Tu-160 ("Blackjack") bombers. http://en.rian.ru/russia/20100325/158312005.html

Amazingly, some USAF officers saw the Tu-95 intercept as a great intelligence coup, i.e., getting to take pictures of a Russian strategic bomber. Others saw using 4 (some sources state 2) F-22s, an AWACS aircraft, and a tanker to intercept two propeller-driven Tu-95 bombers as validation of the entire F-22 program. It never seemed to occur to them that Russian forces were able to study the systems used by their American "partners."

FF said...

I haven't read anywhere the obvious question that I would like asked and that is - what is the sectarian allegiance of those who were targeted in the gas attack?
What are the affiliations of those who lived in that location?
Surely this is the most relevant question in trying to untangle Syrian politics and to identify their attackers?

It's as though the media deliberately doesn't mention this in order to keep it simple in terms of Govt. v 'Opposition' . If these people were Shiites or Alawites, then unlikely to be a Govt attack?

Anonymous said...

Janes Defense Weekly:
anything worth reading in it from a layman's perspective?

Simon in London said...

I get the impression that Russian tech is generally good, but give it to Arabs and...

I'd suspect that the only likelihood of it shooting down many US planes would be if the Russians were supplying the crews to man the stuff too, as in Vietnam.

jody said...

whiskey is never short of total bullshit, i'll give him that.

the US has lost about 2000 guys in afghanistan and nobody gives a shit. not after obama took office, anyway. those US bodies stack up year after year and what's that sound...oh yeah. total silence.

when i went to west point what they told me was, as a 2nd lieutenant coming out of the academy, expect to die. 2nd lieutenant has the highest mortality rate in infantry action. his job to to direct fire at the squad and platoon level. better work your ass off to get that first promotion, and hope no war breaks out in the meantime.

there's a huge difference between what the US mility can actually take, versus what the US media will allow. it all depends on whether they're for, against, neutral, or somewhere in between, on any particular action. if even a couple guys got killed in action in syria, the media could begin raging - depending on how loyal they feel to obama that week and how much they feel the need to support him unconditionally versus their conflicting need to be against any action in syria. on the other hand, when guys get killed in afghanistan now, basically for no good reason at this point, they are complicit. they don't even report on it.

but the military could actually lose thousands of guys in the army, navy, or marines with ZERO loss of effectiveness. it could even lose dozens and dozens of pilots and aircraft from the airforce without a problem. it has HUNDREDS of some of these jets. it might have over ONE THOUSAND F-16s in ACTIVE status.

the 2013 US military has a build out that is LUDICROUS overkill. it spends like 5 times as much a year now as it did during the peak spending of the cold war. there's still over 1 million people in the military, right this minute. it can afford to lose thousands of guys and hundreds of tanks and jets with no problem whatsoever. you only start worrying when more than a couple ships or subs get sunk.

jody said...

the US navy has never had 700 ships. i'm not sure what the highest total it has ever had, but i think it was around 500 at the peak. it's around 300 now.

the main reason to have 11 carriers is not so you can afford to lose them, it's so a couple of them can patrol the entire water surface of the earth if need be while the others are in port being repaired, maintained, and updated. they're like expensive cars. gotta own 2 of them. 1 to drive, and 1 to get repaired while you drive the other one.

certainly i think the navy could perform it's normal daily function of protecting the shipping lanes, while occasionally bullying a small nation that can barely hit back, using a fleet of only 6 carriers or something more sane like that. but even bring up the idea of maybe the US doesn't need ELEVEN aircraft carriers and the preposterous yearly budget which such a fleet incurs, and watch the hostility roll in.

gerald ford is looking now like it will cost well over 10 billion to build, and won't be ready until after 2015. LOL at the US navy EVER putting a 12 BILLION dollar ship in any ACTUAL danger. US carriers are approaching WW2 battleship status, where they're too valuable to actually use.

imagine the psychological damage if an enemy sinks your 12 billion dollar floating metal can with only 12 million dollars in missiles.

ivvenalis said...

Air defense isn't really my field but...

The idea that whatever Russia sells to Syria is "foolproof" doesn't pass the laugh test. We already know the Israelis bombed them with zero losses. In all likelihood the vast majority of Syria's air defense consists of useless anti-aircraft artillery and obsolete SA-2 missiles, with possibly a few relatively advanced S-300 batteries. There is more to air defense than just technology, of course, and the real issue is that Syria's air defenses are probably better, relatively, than anything the USAF has faced since Vietnam. The Air Force has gotten used to conducting air campaigns with basically zero losses, and I'm not sure what would happen if, say, ten jets were shot down with 5 of the pilots captured by the Syrians. Nobody cared too much about this in 1965, but the Gulf War changed everything.

I'm also going to point out a notorious conundrum faced by the Air Force: their most advanced aircraft (F-22, B-2) cost so much and contain so much sensitive tech that it's hard to put them in danger.

Not familiar with the performance of the newest Tomahawk missiles...I believe they fly considerably lower than they used to. Boasting about the (likely theoretical) effectiveness of top-of-the-line systems not available for export against last decade's Tomahawk would be par for the course for the Russian arms makers. At any rate, Tomahawks are relatively cheap, even if the antimissile defenses were actually 50% effective they could simply be saturated. The cost of expending those missiles is minimal compared with getting the ship into range, which is the entire point.

Tarrou said...

Russian's can't build a working flush toilet. I'd take their claim of a 50% success rate on intercepting Tomahawks with a grain of salt and a horse laugh.

Otis McWrong said...

jody said..."the US navy has never had 700 ships. i'm not sure what the highest total it has ever had, but i think it was around 500 at the peak. it's around 300 now."

By the end of the Pacific phase of WW2, The US Navy had close to 7,000 ships, including 28 fleet carriers, another 20-25 battleships (somewhat outdated at that point, but still able to deliver a mindboggling amount of firepower and tough to attack without air superiority, hence the Japanese desperate resort to Kamikaze attacks), numerous (I believe over 70) escort carriers, and something on the order of 250 submarines as well by the end of WW2.

Assuming you were referring to more recent history, the Reagan Administration talked about a 600-ship Navy and it got close, to 588 by 1988. Bear in mind the modern US Navy is orders of magnitude more lethal than at the end of WW2, even at less than 1/10th the size.

Today's Navy is a bit over 400 ships. This counts support vessels (oilers, freighters, etc).

Sword said...

As for the commenter that worried about the USA going nuclear over Syria: even if that would break the Syrian state (a given) I do not see USA doing it. Reason: that would cause nuclear fallout over the region, and theg Scotch-Irish lobby would not alow that.

Anonymous said...

[quote]I would assume that the Israelis are sharing their know how with the Americans on this. Israeli-US intelligence co-operation is not a 1 way street.[/quote]

According to the most recent Snowden NSA documents, the NSA has stated intelligence sharing between the US and Israel is pretty much a one-way street.

Anonymous said...

I suspect the US military will be in the shock of their lives if they decide to go "downtown" in Syria. As Air Power Australia points out, Western forces haven't really faced modern post-Soviet Russkie hardware. How good really is Western ECM if we have spent billions in low observable aircraft? If you could send a radar pulse which has it's own unique ID via digital techniques (just saying), then how are you going to defeat that? The F-117 shot down in the Clinton attack on Yugo wasn't using some advanced SAM, just some Slav brainpower.

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous Ichabod Crane said...

Assad doesn't strike me as a crazy person. He is an ophthalmologist in England who was drafted into becoming the dictator of Syria when his older brother died. In interviews he doesn't come across as a sociopath."

His willingness to govern the regime his father built sort of indicates that he is one however.

"To be clear, I dislike him for supporting our enemies in the Iraq war,..."

We are now supporting our enemies from the Iraq war too. So, at least we have some common ground there.

Mr. Anon said...

"Whiskey said...

Which is the point that Taleb misses in Anti-Fragility. Having a big, robust, design margin military lets a nation absorb losses and still keep up its ability to hurt other nations. Very seriously. A global hegemon can and will extract its price: its currency is the most valuable (it is a call on its protection), it can tolerate inefficiencies and idiosyncrasies that other nations cannot, it can buy social peace at home with expansion abroad, and insure a global market for things it sells and cut rate import rates for things it buys."

It can do all of those things until it can no longer do any of those things. Because it is wasted, broke, and demoralized. That's where we are headed now.

"Because Clinton, Bush, and most horribly Obama cut the military to the bone, a loss of a carrier would be akin to the loss of the Hood, and Prince of Wales, all at the same time, to the British in WWII. And this means that the US ability to intimidate nations into doing things it wants short of war is either gone or rapidly going."

And as we all know, the loss of the Hood and the Prince of Wales knocked the British navy right our of the war.

Does your yap have absolutely no internal govenor on it, Whiskey? Do you not even blink at saying things that are just patently false and easily disprovable?

Anonymous said...

"Worry about the anti ship missiles"

Not sure what the big worry but Syria does have these thingies (and they are pretty amazing):
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P-800

Alexei Sadeski said...

It's 100% marketing.

Hypothetically, they may be able to hit a few aircraft, but the US wouldn't give them the opportunity.

Shooting down 50% of US cruise missiles is an absurd claim. Maybe 5%. Maybe.

Paul Mendez said...

I highly doubt the US would have any problems with the Syrian air defenses.

HOWEVER, on today's hi-tech battlefield, if your opponent does pull an electronic rabbit out of his hat, things can go very badly, very quickly, until you come up with a counter-measure.

For example, the wire-guided Sagger anti-tank missiles used by the Egyptian infantry during the Yom Kippur war. They were a deadly surprise until the Israeli tankers learned how to deal with them.

If the Syrians can shoot down a handful of the US's first strike, that would be a tremendous blow to US prestige. America's might is based on the ability to drop a big bomb on top of anyone or anything, anywhere in the world, with total impunity. If the cost of dropping that bomb is potentially a $50 million FA18 Super Hornet plus crew, America's might is seriously degraded.

Simon in London said...

FF:
>> Anonymous FF said...

I haven't read anywhere the obvious question that I would like asked and that is - what is the sectarian allegiance of those who were targeted in the gas attack?
What are the affiliations of those who lived in that location?
Surely this is the most relevant question in trying to untangle Syrian politics and to identify their attackers?

It's as though the media deliberately doesn't mention this in order to keep it simple in terms of Govt. v 'Opposition' . If these people were Shiites or Alawites, then unlikely to be a Govt attack?<<

I think a lot of smart and sceptical people have had this thought. I wouldn't be too surprised if rebels overran a mostly non-Sunni area and deliberately released gas. Given how ineffective missiles are at chemical weapons delivery, and how it seemingly makes no sense for Assad to release gas in *Damascus* (as opposed to planes dropping it over Hama, say), a rebel action + CIA connivance seems more plausible than the official Western narrative.

Eric said...

I'm not surprise Russian arms makers are talking up their product, but the Syrians aren't going to do any better than the Libyans. So they can shoot down a few tomahawks? What is their air defense going to look like after three or four hundred get through?

Sam said...

Have any of you guys read,"The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers"? Our present defense situation is rapidly declining. We spend more and more for less and less. If you replaced battleships with air craft carriers in the book it would perfectly sync. The cost per capability have gone down significantly. We're moving towards a more cost effective solution with drones but we're not there yet. Hypersonic worldwide missiles strikes would be a big boost.

Anonymous said...

Lol the USN had well well over 700 ships in WW2. 50+ carriers alone. Tens of thousands of fighters and bombers. Something like 2.5 million sailors. We used to amass task forces for landing support that were larger than the entire modern Navy. And we might be running 2 of those operations simultaneously. The WW2 Navy could easily outfight the modern Navy if it weren't for the LA class the Seawolves, and the Virginia class. You take nuke subs of the table and just 7th fleet in 1945 is easily enough to take on the entire 2013 navy

Auntie Analogue said...

Sure, the Israeli strike on Syria suffered zero losses. But then the Syrians didn't know that the Israelis were coming. Obama and his clueless minions (Kerry, Rice, Power, et al.) have ANNOUNCED that the U.S. is coming, so you can bet that Syrian air defense personnel, likely with Russian help, have been drilling their butts off to get ready for the Yankee Air Pirates of 2013.

Whether, or not, Obama launches U.S. air attacks on Syria, you can bet that our unelected State Department high muckety-mucks will be settling blocs of Syrian "refugees" in selected U.S. cities, and that the State Department (and the FBI and such) will fail to vet the "refugees," so that at least a few of them will come here and pull a Tsarnaev Brothers act on some unlucky Americans who did not get to vote on settling Syrian "refugees" among us.

Anonymous said...

pability after Vietnam. Russian-made planes and anti-aircraft weapons took their toll on US air power during the Vietnam War,

There was a revolution in SAM countermeasures during the 70's.

Electronic warfare has always been a cat-and-mouse game. During WW2 the UK and Germans were in a cycle of measures and countermeasures with a cycle time of a few months. EW is very sensitive to intelligence gathering and secrecy about what is known about the other guy. Because the advantages are so transient a nation needs geeks that are constantly on top of the situation. It's not something purchased once and kept for 20 years. I note that the Arab states are not known for having lots of smart geeks on call.

During the '73 war the Israelis lost a lot of aircraft to Egyptian and Syrian guided missiles. This led to a comprehensive overhaul of countermeasures. Combined with the increase in computational power that was also going on at the same time the new countermeasures caused the Israeli aircraft loss rate to drop to essentially zero during the '82 invasion of Lebanon. I think they lost one A-4 to ground fire in that war while wiping out the Syrian air defenses in Lebanon and much of the Syrian air force.

Since then the record of air defenses against modern Western forces has not been good. Serbia, Iraq X2, etc. The accuracy of bombing has increased, too, which means all those aircraft that aren't shot down can do a lot more damage per mission.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I discount the actions of the Israeli air force against Syria as proof that the Syrian ADS isn't all it's cracked up to be. Small, pre-planned strikes against fixed targets are easy to pull off against even the toughest systems when your opponent isn't on a full war footing with all of their low-level defenses mobilized (and isn't that much harder to pull off when they are: USAF doctrine in Vietnam had anything too small to carry a full ECM suite run in at treetop level on ground attack missions once they really got behind enemy lines. Fighters move fast enough that ground forces have a really hard time tracking them with enough accuracy to give the low-level 'tactical' air defenses enough notice to do anything. Those 'tactical' defenses are used primarily against enemy aircraft attempting to provide close air support, where the enemy sticks around long enough to give you more than one shot. )

The air defense systems discussed here (S-300s and the U.S. equivalent PATRIOT system) are designed to engage enemy aircraft flying from a few thousand feet to hundreds of thousands of feet off the ground - which is exactly where a full on strike by the U.S, including ground-attack efforts against mobile forces and relying on up-to-the-minute intelligence HAS to operate. Laser-guided bombs require that aircraft be high enough to have line-of-site to the target both before the bomb is released and before impact to actually steer the bomb to the target. JDAMs let you launch them in more favorable conditions, but you have to be really, really good to hit a maneuvering target with them, and you need somebody to give you the exact coordinates even against a stationary target. I'd be surprised if the S-300s would do well against tomahawks once they get over land given their low-altitude flight path, but if the Syrians had a radar overlooking the ocean, that problem would be solved neatly given that they would be launched from ships.

In order to degrade the launchers and the radar, the U.S. would need to count on them staying where they were before the shooting started or plan a massive head-on assault at high altitude in order for U.S. SEAD assets to find them, which exposes the aircraft in question to the very system they're trying to destroy. (SEAD can best be described as defeating the enemy ambush by walking right into it and waiting for them to start shooting, then hoping you can aim your bullet and have it reach them before theirs will reach you.)

In short, the marketing is right, with qualifications. Do the Syrians have enough equipment on hand to soak up it inevitable losses in the first six-to-twelve hours of shooting and still pose an effective threat? If they do, U.S. losses would be significant (or the bombing campaign would be far less effective than advertised).

As others have said, the US .mil has far too much invested in the notion that they'll never lose a significant piece of hardware in their mud-hut bombing campaigns. At one point, the Air Force recognized this: The initial design case of the F-5/F-20 was based on the USAF wishing to reverse the trend of every fewer numbers of ever more expensive fighters. The thinking was that the USAF might get only a few hundred F-15s and one to two thousand F-16s against easily three or four times that number of Soviet fighters. The F-5/-20 was intended to be cheap enough that the Air Force could field a squadron in every town with a paved or unpaved runway, and simple enough to build and maintain that they could be manufactured within a hundred miles of wherever they would be deployed. The idea was that the Eagles and Falcons would hold off the Soviet air force while the Freedom Fighters would hunt and engage the Soviet ground attack aircraft and in general clog up the other guy's radar screens. It was ultimately decided that it'd be cheaper to lobby for extra -15s and -16s, which has now unfortunately set precedent.

Jack Hanson said...

IIRC Israel didn't want to fly over Hezballah controlled southern Lebanon because they were worried about MANPADS, so that's why they went and blew up northern Lebanon. I wouldn't put too much stock in the power of Israel's ECM.

As one commenter pointed out, a sortie by several aircraft is not a bombing campaign. Furthermore, the moment Syria takes action against Israel its a casus belli for Isreal to defend itself and drag the US into the region to fight the war for them.

The US military is definitely on a two track culture. Those that suffered the brunt of the casualties in the MENA sphere (the Army and Marines) do not believe in the buzzwords such as surgical strikes and humanitarian intervention. The Air Force, and to a lesser extent the Navy, do. Seems that ADM Dempsey has a very realistic idea of what's going to happen if we end up bombing Syria, which is we have to send in troops because the usual suspects are beating the drum about America's reputation.

There really are some parallels here to what happened in Yugoslavia, where Clinton talked about waging a bombing campaign because American airpower was the bestest ever, and then some clever Slav using technology from 1961 shot down our premier stealth fighter. Of course, we ended up putting boots on the ground in order to fight the war for Bosnian Muslims against Orthodox Christians because of Zlata's Diary or something.

I imagine Syria is sitting on a very nasty bag of tricks that they are waiting to use when they HAVE to use it. Remember the Camp Bastion incident? All the hallmarks of a war movie, a real story that was made for Hollywood if there ever was one. Hell, the Lieutenant Colonel commander died leading his troops in a charge with a pistol.

The reason why you don't hear about it is because of a host of other reasons, including the laziness of our 'allies' in manning guard towers, but mostly because we lost a Harrier wing of irreplaceable jets to a bunch of goat herders who were willing to die no matter what.

Anonymous said...

The US should never get involved in Syria but if it wanted to, the air defenses would be brushed aside with ease. The Israelis have bombed Damascus and the Syrian nuclear reactor, for heaven's sake, their most sensitive heavily guarded sites. The Russians want to brag, so they brag. The Syrian military is barely functioning as a result of all the defections and AWOL troops. Why would that not have had any effect on the air defense? Is seems very improbable to me that the Israelis could bomb without loss and that the Syrian army is losing effectiveness, but we would not be able to bomb easily. But easy or not, the US should not become involved.

Svigor said...

the US has lost about 2000 guys in afghanistan and nobody gives a shit. not after obama took office, anyway. those US bodies stack up year after year and what's that sound...oh yeah. total silence.

And oil prices, don't forget oil prices. Media up until 5 seconds before Obama was elected:

"OMG, these casualties are too much! T-o-o M-u-c-h! Can't take much more!"
"OMG, gas prices are too high! W-a-y T-o-o H-i-g-h! Can't take much more!"

Media 5 seconds after Obama was elected:

"Okay, ME casualties and oil prices are too high, but America's used to it now. They're no longer news, at all."

David Davenport said...

IIRC Israel didn't want to fly over Hezballah controlled southern Lebanon because they were worried about MANPADS, so that's why they went and blew up northern Lebanon.

Jack, the maximum altitude of everybody's Man Portable Air Defense Systems is well under 20,000 feet.

F-15 and F-16 warplanes, which is what the Israelis have, can fly higher than that.

Anonymous said...

>" I'd be surprised if the S-300s would do well against tomahawks once they get over land given their low-altitude flight path, but if the Syrians had a radar overlooking the ocean, that problem would be solved neatly given that they would be launched from ships.

But the Russkies have developed the "NKMZ 40V6M/40V6MD/40V6MT Universal Mobile Mast" to provide 24-40 meter height extension for their SAM systems:

"The stated motives behind the development and deployment of the 40V6M/MD masts were to provide acceptable low altitude coverage footprint for the S-300PT system, tasked with intercepting low flying nuclear armed Strategic Air Command B-52G/H, FB-111A bombers, and the AGM-86B ACLM and MGM-109G GLCM cruise missiles, all of which were considered terminal threats to the Rodina. The severity of the threat justified the considerable expense in developing a complex high payload mast system, suitable for deployment in often complex terrain, and in often highly adverse climatic and weather conditions."

http://www.ausairpower.net/APA-40V6M-Mast-System.html

Anonymous said...

I would rate this kind of Russian braggadocio at around 1 on the credibility scale, along the lines of Khrushchev boast that he was going to bury America.

And thats been proved wrong how? ;-)

Jack Hanson said...

David,

Please tell me the minimum height you have to be to effectively bomb dug in bunkers in rough terrain and provide CAS in ground combat?

Hint - its a lot less than 20,000 feet.

David Davenport said...

Jack,

Are you saying that Israeli Defense Force peepul on the ground had no way to determine target locations and to communicate target coordinates to aircraft?

Anonymous said...

Hint - its a lot less than 20,000 feet.

These days air support types like to cruise around 25K ft and drop JDAMS. It puts them out of the range of most light air defense artillery, and most of the things that can reach to that altitude require a radar to be effective. The A-10's get down low but those are only used for ground support of troops, and after the US has gained supremacy.

I doubt that they'd use much in the way of aircraft at all in Syria anyway. Probably some EW aircraft near the coast, maybe pop off a few anti-radiation missiles at coastal radar sites to make them switch off. And a lot of data collection to see how the Syrians are radiating and to collect data on what the Russians have sold them. To operate aircraft consistently over Syria they'd want to take down the Syrian Integrated Air Defense System, which the US could do, easily, but it would take several days. That's not consistent with Kerry's boneheaded admission that any strikes would be "incredibly small."

This looks more like shooting cruise missiles at a few ammo dumps and barracks.

David Davenport said...

Joint Direct Attack Munition

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Joint Direct Attack Munition
(JDAM)
...
Type Fixed target, precision strike, moving vehicle
Place of origin United States of America
Service history
In service 1997-present
Used by See operators
...


Specifications
Length 9.9–12.75 feet (3.0–3.89 m)
Maximum range Up to 15 nautical miles (28 km)
Wingspan 19.6 to 25 inches (500 to 640 mm)
Accuracy Specified 13 meters; Realized around 7 meters
The Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) is a guidance kit that converts unguided bombs, or "dumb bombs" into all-weather "smart" munitions. JDAM-equipped bombs are guided by an integrated inertial guidance system coupled to a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver, giving them a published range of up to 15 nautical miles (28 km). JDAM-equipped bombs range from 500 pounds (227 kg) to 2,000 pounds (907 kg).[1] When installed on a bomb, the JDAM kit is given a GBU (Guided Bomb Unit) nomenclature, superseding the Mark 80 or BLU (Bomb, Live Unit) nomenclature of the bomb to which it is attached.

...

Guidance is facilitated through a tail control system and a GPS-aided inertial navigation system (INS). The navigation system is initialized by transfer alignment from the aircraft that provides position and velocity vectors from the aircraft systems. Once released from the aircraft, the JDAM autonomously navigates to the designated target coordinates.Target coordinates can be loaded into the aircraft before takeoff, manually altered by the aircrew in flight prior to weapon release, or entered by a datalink from ... targeting equipment....

/////////

List of laser applications
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Redirected from Laser target designator)

...

Target designator[edit source | editbeta]
Main article: Laser designator


Another military use of lasers is as a laser target designator. This is a low-power laser pointer used to indicate a target for a precision-guided munition, typically launched from an aircraft. The guided munition adjusts its flight-path to home in to the laser light reflected by the target, enabling a great precision in aiming. The beam of the laser target designator is set to a pulse rate that matches that set on the guided munition to ensure munitions strike their designated targets and do not follow other laser beams which may be in use in the area. The laser designator can be shone onto the target by an aircraft or nearby infantry. Lasers used for this purpose are usually infrared lasers, so the enemy cannot easily detect the guiding laser light.

David Davenport said...

photo of laser target designator for ground user

Jack Hanson said...

David,

Please explain how this changes the need to get closer to put a bomb effectively on a target?

Another hint: the SA-2s in Serbia took away a lot of the effective bombing support of NATO because they had to fly higher to avoid them.

A further hint: This is also why talk of MANPADS in Iraq had infantry units flooding into a neighborhood tearing up anything and everything looking for them.

But if you want to continue doubling down on thinking CAS and effective bombing is dropping pew pew explosives from 30,000 feet be my guest.

Jack Hanson said...

Also David, you might want to be familiar with the term "danger close" and understand the defense in depth strategy that HA used severly limited any sort of CAS.

Anonymous said...

Another hint: the SA-2s in Serbia took away a lot of the effective bombing support of NATO because they had to fly higher to avoid them.

Um. You're deeply confused. The SA-2 is a mid-to-high altitude anti-aircraft missile. Modified versions were used to shoot down Gary Powers' U2. I can assure you that NATO aircraft were not flying at U2 altitudes during the Kosovo war.

JDAMs are accurate to a few meters. They're so accurate that the average bomb size has been dropping; the bombs drop so close to the aim point that 2000 lb bombs aren't needed to destroy the target. 1000 lb, 500 lb, and now 250 lb SDBs are being used.

In Serbia the problem was lack of targeting information from troops on the ground when looking for mobile targets, such as tanks. In Afghanistan there are all sorts of troops running around to call in air strikes on mobile targets. In Syria the targets are likely to be semi-fixed.

Air strike porn: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LUp-mMfSkKs

Anonymous said...

In Syria the targets are likely to be semi-fixed.

In Syria, the rebels can call in the airstrikes, with a bit of technical training from Uncle Sam.

Anonymous said...

"In Syria, the rebels can call in the airstrikes, with a bit of technical training from Uncle Sam."

"In Syria, the rebels*&^%$#@!^ Al-Qaeda can call in the airstrikes, with a bit of technical training from Uncle Sam."

Jack Hanson said...

Anyone who prefaces an argument with "Um" is likely to be a know nothing passive aggressive type. What do you know.

Nothing in your argument changes the fact that NATO forces had to fly higher and reduce their acccuracy during the Yugoslavian War. Do you really think the Yugoslavs were using "modified" versions?

""The war (in Kosovo) proved that a competent opponent can improvise ways to overcome superior weaponry because every technology has weaknesses that can be identified and exploited," the jury is still out even on real damage to Serbian military infrastructure, the fact remains that SAM sites forced NATO planes to fly higher and be less effective than they would have been with out these defences"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S-125_Neva/Pechora

Syria's ADA is a bit more advanced.

Do you know anything about Fire Direction Control and calling for fire? Or do you think its a matter of a laser pointer and hoping for the best? Effective CAS takes some training, and hopefully someone realizes that giving our best goodies to al-Qaeda isn't a great idea.

Anonymous said...

The Wikipedia contains conflicting data on Syrian weapon inventory, not surprisingly. Also, like the old Soviet Union, Syria has (had?) an "Air Defense" service separate from the army and air force. The inventory of the Army and Air Defense Force appears co-mingled in these tables:

Syrian Air Defense Force: Inventory

Equipment of the Syrian Army: Self-propelled Air Defense

Aviation Week had a recent article, "Syria Fields New And Upgraded SAMs", 9-Sept-2013, that is likely roughly accurate. Bottom line seems to be that, of the modern stuff that matters most (recent Russian stuff that the Syrians can actually operate), there are likely about 15 of the 5 year-old late-model Buk anti-aircraft missile systems (range about 30 miles, altitude about 80K feet) and about 30 operational 10 year-old Pantsir-S1s (range about 10 miles, altitude about 50K feet).

The Buk is a classic mobile SAM system. Ironically, it was surprisingly effective against the Russians when operated by the Georgians during that little war, but that might not be saying much.

The Pantsir is a point defense system, essentially (vague hand-waving) a modern heavy fighter plane, with 2 30-mm cannons (range a mile or two) and missile launchers, mounted in a turret on a truck. Of course you don't need a pilot, but you still need the equivalent of a trained "weapons system officer". A Pantsir is very likely to have shot down that Turkish F-4.

None of this stuff has operated against modern western equipment, so nobody knows...

Assad might have a problem finding trained operators. Of course there are probably plenty of mercenaries from the old eastern block that might be available. Apparently Assad commits his forces extremely judiciously, because he has a very hard time telling who he can trust, who won't desert... So things like the Israeli raid might have received no response for reasons other than technology.

(Assad appears to have a jaundiced eye toward Syria with respect to HBD. I think he's said a number of amusing things over the decades such as "Syria can't possible be developing nuclear weapons on our own. Syria's not that smart.")

Aviation Week also points out (as no doubt many others) that the Syrian situation may save the DOD from many of those mean old sequestration cuts, but sometimes a coincidence is just a coincidence, I suppose.

David Davenport said...

Jack Hanson, when you said that the Israeli air force was afraid to attack southern Lebanon but not northern Lebanon, were you perhaps referrring to the 2006 "war" or "incursion" into Lebanon?

As I recall, the Israeli air force was cricized for being unable to suppress the Party of Allah, a.k.a. Hezbollah, rocketeers and fighters in south Lebanon. However, further north in Lebanon, the Israelis did bomb parts of Beruit toward the end of the conflict, claiming that they were trying to hit Party of Allah headquarters.


I don't recall anybody saying that the Israeli air force did a poor job in southern Lebanon because the Party of Allah had man-portable anti-aircraft missiles in the south.


Are the Israel Defense Forces Finally Ready for the Next Lebanon War?

Israel’s failures in 2006 foreshadow the challenges that lie ahead in a fractured Middle East—and the coming wars there

By Amos Harel|June 19, 2013 12:00 AM|Comments: 0

In short, Israel’s decision-making process, in both the political and the military leadership, was terrible. After four days of airstrikes, Olmert could have simply announced that the operation achieved its goals and declared a ceasefire. Instead, he hesitated for four more weeks, while releasing ever more arrogant public statements. Worst of all, the IDF failed in its attempts to stop Hezbollah’s bombardments, while almost a third of the Israelis were confined to bomb shelters. To top it off, Olmert ordered the army to make a last-ditch attempt and occupy parts of Southern Lebanon, just as the U.N. Security Council had approved a ceasefire resolution. Thirty-five Israeli soldiers died in the last 60 hours of the war—a period during which nothing of any military or political value was achieved.

The 2006 Lebanon war ended in failure, not defeat. Failure was not a word that Israelis were used to associating with the army, to which so much of the nation’s finances are dedicated and in which their sons and daughters spend years of mandatory service. The lesson of the war for most observers and participants alike was that the strongest army in the Middle East could not stop a few thousand Hezbollah fighters from shooting rockets at the Galilee until the last hour. No wonder that Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah became, at least for a period of time, a hero to the Arab world.

...

Enter Gabi Ashkenazi. The IDF’s new chief of staff, called back into the army after Halutz’s resignation in February 2007 (he had retired in 2005, when Sharon chose Halutz over him)

...

Ashkenazi quickly realized that the army needed a return to the basics: thorough operational plans and, more than anything else, better training. The IDF had neglected training in those hectic years of chasing Palestinian suicide bombers. Commanders’ courses were extended, and so were their terms in office. A few incompetent generals were removed from their jobs. Equipment and weapons for combat units were improved, and gradually the reservists’ trust in the system which they felt had betrayed them in Lebanon was rebuilt. The chief emphasized the need to supply forces on the ground with quick, precise intelligence—a serious weakness displayed by the IDF during the war in 2006.

...

Yet important changes have taken place inside the IDF, especially within Israel’s air force. In the last Gaza operation 100 percent of the bombs the air force used were precision-guided.
Huh? The Israelis were still using some "dumb" bombs as recently as 2006? -- DD )

...

Amos Harel is the senior military correspondent for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. His newest book, T’da Kol Em Ivreea: The New face of the IDF, was published in Hebrew in March.

David Davenport said...

Here's Wikipedia re The Lockheed Martin Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod (ATP), designated AN/AAQ-33 in U.S. Military Service, provides positive target identification, autonomous tracking, coordinate generation, and precise weapons guidance from extended standoff ranges.

The Sniper ATP is a single, lightweight pod with much lower aerodynamic drag than the legacy systems it replaces. The Sniper possesses advanced targeting technology and its image processing allows aircrews to detect and identify tactical-size targets outside threat rings for the destruction of enemy air defense mission, as well as outside jet noise ranges for urban counter-insurgency operations. It offers a 3-5 times increase in detection range over the legacy LANTIRN system. It is currently flying on the U.S. Air Force and multinational F-16, F-15, B-1, CF-18, Harrier, A-10, B-52 and Tornado aircraft.


And here's an inneresting marketing video for the Sniper pod:

Anonymous said...

"... are almost foolproof against manned aircraft and can shoot down half the Tomahawk missiles."



"The Buk missile system... is a family of self-propelled, medium-range surface-to-air missile systems... designed to engage cruise missiles, smart bombs, fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft, and unmanned aerial vehicles.

... Finland is planning to accelerate the replacement of the missile system due to concerns about its susceptibility to electronic warfare."







(The Pantsir might "represent the latest air defense..." but it is not the latest generation of Russian air defense (thus the worry about things like the S-300 (apparently not in Syria, though that was the rumor for awhile, "developed to defend against aircraft and cruise missiles..."); the newer S-400 is not for export.)

"Pantsir-S1... represents the latest air defence technology by using phased-array radars...

... continuous target engagement zone from 5 m height and 200 m range up to 10 km height and 20 km range, even without any external support.

... digital data link system up to six Pantsir-S1... operate in various modes. ...

Missiles can be fired at up to four targets... Missile is believed to have a hit probability of 70–95% and have a 15 year storage lifetime... Pantsir-S1 combat vehicles can fire missiles on the move. ...

On 19 October 2012... a Pantsir shot down a live cruise missile in a test in Russia."


Modern combat aircraft can often link themselves via data links into what is essentially a single combat system, only a few need to use their radars, etc.. The Pantsir can do the same.

Jack Hanson said...

David,

Are you able to make an analysis out of that block of text or are you just blindly cutting and pasting?

Israel said all sorts of things about why it bombed Northern Lebanon, but its pretty obvious it was to 'punish' the Lebanese by attacking infrastructure.

Anonymous said...

Nothing in your argument changes the fact that NATO forces had to fly higher and reduce their acccuracy during the Yugoslavian War. Do you really think the Yugoslavs were using "modified" versions?

You misidentified the missile. Just own up to it and move on. (Because the SA-2 is a mid-to-high altitude weapon flying above its envelope would require aircraft to fly at 50-70,000 ft, which the NATO attack aircraft were quite obviously not doing. The US had defeated most Serbian radars and mid-to-high altitude missiles. Since MANPADS and some AAA don't use radars and are ubiquitous, the fighter bombers simply stay out of their engagement envelope.

In Iraq and Afghanistan and Kosovo the standard bombing practice is for fighter bombers to fly at around 20,000 ft and simply drop JDAMS or laser guided bombs. The relevant question isn't the accuracy of the bombing. That's a solved problem. Cheap GPS kits strapped onto iron bombs get them within a few meters of the aim point. In urban areas they've even taken to using inert concrete-filled bombs. See this famous clip--the aircraft is at about 15,000 ft, dropping an explosive laser-guided bomb.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6MH45v0NMOw

As the Australians put it, "With the end of the Cold War tactics shifted. Loss of aircraft and aircrew became politically unacceptable, and bombing campaigns were mostly prosecuted from medium altitudes, well above the reach of AAA and shoulder fired SAMs. The latter accounted for the largest number of coalition aircraft losses in the 1991 Desert Storm campaign." (The UK lost several Tornados while trying to attack Iraqi airbases in low-altitude cluster bomb attacks. The US flew at altitude and dropped laser-guided bombs, and had a lower loss rate.)

MANPADS and small caliber AAA are a significant threat to attack helicopters, which provide much of the close air support to troops in contact with the enemy.

The problem isn't bomb accuracy, it's target identification and deconfliction with friendly or neutral forces. You want someone on the ground talking in the aircraft--the ground forces have a better idea of who's who and can identify targets better.

And that's irrelevant if the targets you're going after are barracks and fixed ammo dumps or chemical weapons factories. Which manned aircraft won't be attacking in the case of Syria anyway, because cruise missiles can do that just fine without bothering to engage in a multi-day campaign to take down the Syrian IADS.

Thus ends today's lecture on modern close air support.

Anonymous said...

"...the Syrians are not noted for their military efficiency the the best of circumstances."


Along the lines of relatively obscure military operations, it is easy to forget the US carrier attack on Syrian air defense missiles in Lebanon in 1983, in which the US lost an A-6 and an A-7 and the A-6 navigator was taken prisoner by the Syrians. (12 A-7s, 16 A-6s, and support formed the strike. This was apparently a real snake-bit air-strike, a lesson in how not to do it.) There is not a lot about it on the web:

"After being fired upon by Syrian missiles, U.S. aircraft targeted Syrian missile batteries in the mountains east of Beirut. In the process, Syrian 9K31 Strela-1 or man-portable Strela 2 surface-to-air missiles shot down two American planes, an A-6 Intruder and an A-7 Corsair. The pilot of the A-6, Lieutenant Mark Lange[9] (flying from USS John F. Kennedy), was killed; his Bombardier/Navigator, Lieutenant Bobby Goodman, ejected and was captured by Syrian soldiers..."

This web article, "Disaster in Lebanon: US and French Operations in 1983", has what seems to be about the best description online in the section "The Flight into Disaster":

"The USN never published the official documents about this attack, so it remains problematic to assess it properly or find out the exact reason behind the order that led to this catastrophe. In the book mentioned above, the anonymous USN A-6 pilot summarized:

Conducting an “Alpha Strike” resulted in relearning a lot of the lessons from Vietnam… on short notice. The beneficial fall-out of the mistakes made on this mission was the clockwork success of the mission carried out against Libya a few years later."



There's always a probability that things just go wrong.

Despite Syria's oddly unevenly proficient military, not that many nations have shot down US war planes in the last 30 years and taken air crew prisoner.

Eric said...

Nothing in your argument changes the fact that NATO forces had to fly higher and reduce their acccuracy during the Yugoslavian War. Do you really think the Yugoslavs were using "modified" versions?

Jack, GPS and laser guided bombs are no less accurate from 40,000 ft than they are from 5,000 ft. CEP for JDAMs is about ten meters and for laser guided bombs it's about two meters. Independent of release altitude.

To the extent NATO forces suffered from reduced accuracy in Serbia the problem was in identifying and engaging targets of opportunity, which isn't something we're likely do do in Syria.