Sunday, January 28, 2007

January 27th march @ the Mall in Washington DC

I am in front of the Capitol building, standing an a concrete pylon as a I pan with the camera. Looking towards the Washington Monument... you first see 3rd St. then the back of the stage, looking past all those people, past 4th St. is the Washington Monument.

I have "heard" it takes a at least a million people to fill this space. My guess is @ most it was 3/4 filled... 600k-700k ?

Video blog on the bus trip and some of the great people I met:

As soon as I get more video edited and loaded to you tube, I will up date here.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Modern Iranian SAM Missiles, can they hit a stealth bomber?

My first diary in this series dealt with the roots of the Saudi short range ICBM program & recent Saudi "Ghauri" missile purchases from Pakistan. The next diary in the series dealt with Iranian missiles starting with surface to air systems like the short range Russian SAM 6, whose mobile launchers can be upgraded with SAM 11 missiles. The more modern Tor-M1 and the medium range Pechora-2A. Offensively I included the mach 3 Sunburn, C-801 and C-802 cruise missiles.

In part 3 of the series I offer you the Irans S-300PMU-2. Twice the size, of the US Partiot missile & reportedly vastly superior (lacking the reputation of shooting down friendly aircarft), the S-300PMU-2 has been a good source of currency for Russia, who was the worlds leader in exported arms sales last year (31 billion).

Can Iran shoot down a stealth?

I'm sure many readers will think to themselves that we will use our stealth bombers to attack Iran, no problems, right? Not exactly, you see Serbia shot down an F117 stealth bomber in 1999. And I may know why.

Ghauri, recently purchased by Saudi Arabia.

@ According to a 7 December 2005 "Defense Update" commentary, "when deployed in an integrated network, an array of S-300 and Tor M-1 systems could pose a highly potent defensive network against any aggressor." Reports that Iran two years ago acquired two S-300 batteries that have been deployed near Tehran remain unconfirmed to this date.

@ janes the presence of these missiles will "create major problems for [air strike] planners for years to come."

Both Iran and Syria have recently been equipped with the very latest version of this missiles, the S-300PMU-2, which is larger, faster and even more efficient at hunting down its prey. The range of this upgraded missile is in excess of 125 miles, with the ability to acquire and kill targets flying as low as 30 feet. The Russians routinely shoot down random target drones travelling at 5,800 feet per second, and further claim the weapon is easily capable of destroying targets approaching at up to 15,500 feet per second, or Mach 14. Trust me, the S-300PMU-2 will swiftly take care of anything.
James O'Halloran, editor of Jane's Land-Based Air Defense, said the Serbs could succeed because the stealth fighter was not design to be invisible to old long pulse duration radars.

@ airpower
Experts at Lockheed Martin Corporation, the aircraft’s manufacturer, reported that- unlike earlier instances of F-117 combat operations- the missions flown over Yugoslavia required the aircraft to operate in ways that may have compromised its stealthy characteristics. By way of example, they noted that even a standard turning maneuver could increase the aircraft’s radar cross section by a factor of 100 or more. Such turns were unavoidable in the constricted airspace within which the F-117s had to fly.....Gen Richard Hawley, commander of Air Combat Command at the time, commented that “when you have a lot of unlocated threats, you are at risk even in a stealth airplane.” ....Three low-frequency Serb radars that could have detected the F-117’s presence, at least theoretically...

Simply put, stealth bomber coating are carbon balls in paint. In this layer, there are voids, which can collect moisture. The B-2 bomber is notorious for flying thru moisture laden clouds and then becoming very visible to radar. In Serbia in 1999 a F~117 was shot down. Infra red can see the jet engine exhaust from above. If the Stealth Bomber has to turn, it can be seen. But lets take a step back 50 years in time.

There is an old trick used in both Korea and in Vietnam. SAM units on the ground might not turn on thier radar until the last second, if the SAM units were networked, by turning on only one radar they could get a narrow picture of what air threats were approaching. SO there was a game going on between the pilots in the air and the SAM batteries on the ground. If the Pilot gets a fix on the radar, he will likely kill it. If the Radar turns on & off real quick, maybe the pilot doesn't get a fix.

The Soviets used a similar move when chasing the US SR~71 blackbird. Ground radar would see the Mach 3+ SR~71 approaching, Mach 3 Mig~25 jets would be vectored to get in front of the SR~71, where they would fire ALL of their air to air missiles, hoping the SR~71 would fly at them. When the SR~71 was in range the russian pilot hoped his missles would get lock, but the SR~71 climbed and accelerated from trouble.

If I was running Iran Military I would buy some 50 yr old SAM 3 radar units, these long wave radars are effective against stealth coatings. The SAM 3's would be combined into small networks, or fire teams if you will. This allows the SAM 3 radar to feed the more modern SAM 11 or Tor M~1 systems. and if the SAM 3 radar was observed, then attacked, they would not be attacking the more important launcher, which could fire the missile and then fire up its radar.

In regard to what Iran is observed to be buying and how Iran is organizing its air defense, I think a US attack could be botched by the Bush Administration. In the past the suits have been running the Iraq war, not the uniforms. If this trend continues during an attack on Iran, pray for our people in the region. Iran could bloody our nose, or worse. Remember, when we wargamed the Iraqi invasion in 2002, we lost 12 naval ships due to cruise missile hits. Read about the Mach 3 Iranian Sunburn. The Sunburn is a bad Mo Fo.

I would fearful if we see our air craft carriers attack from the Persian Gulf, they should be in the Arabian Sea.


Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Iranian missile systems

Until recently Iran had relied on the Russian SAM-6 surface to air missile. With a range of 25 km it might be considered a short range or point defense system. The Russian SAM-11 missile looks like it can be fired from older SAM-6 launchers with little work to accommodate the SAM-11 missile. The SAM-6 was first developed by Russia, starting in 1958. By the 1973 yon Kippur war it was a proven system. In August 1992 the NYT. reported "Iran is reportedly negotiating the purchase of SAM-5, SAM-11, and SAM-13 missiles from Russia and other Eastern European countries." Don't forget that the SAM-11 missile looks able to be fired from Iran's existing SAM-6 mobile launchers.

In the Summer of 2006 reports suggested that Iran was looking to buy the Tor-M1 Air defense system, This was confirmed in the first week of 2007 from Russian sources

The TOR-M1 surface-to-air missile system is a mobile, integrated air defense system, designed for operation at medium-, low- and very low –altitudes, against fixed/rotary wing aircraft, UAVs, guided missiles and precision weapon. The system is capable of operating in an intensive aerial jamming environment.

The Tor-M1 system has a range of 25 KM, making it a significant qualitative upgrade from the existing SAM-6 systems. The same source indicates the Iranians also are buying the longer range Pechora-2A.

Pechora-2A can hit the air targets at distances from 3.5 to 38 kilometers and at heights from 0.02 to 20 kilometers, flying at a speed of up to 700 meters per second. The complex was successfully tested at a Middle East firing range, hitting an F-16 fighter and an analogue of a Tomahawk cruise missile.

I get the feeling that Iran has not set up a comprehensive air defense grid as we think of it here in the US. They seem to favor using jet aircraft as a long range platform to shoot down air borne threats (F-14, SU-27 & Mig 29). Then they seem to rely on mobile SAM systems as point defense. @ they have indicated that Iran may have deployed some of these SAMs in underground bunkers, with multiple entrance tunnels. This allows the mobile SAM launcher a hardened supply/maintenence point, from which the launcher can make its appearance from a number of tunnel entrance points. The Tor-M1 system needs only 10 seconds from target aquisition to launch.

The combination of these 3 systems does add a layer of complexity to Iranian air defense that they have not had in possibly decades. The Pechora-2A with its 38km range would be the 1st layer in this arrangement, while the older but more numerous (and a bit slower to acquire targets) SAM-6 may be left out in the open to deal with targets that get past the Pechora-2A. If a target gets that far, the far more modern and accurate Tor-M1 can be trundled out from a tunnel to defend against the intruder.

At most Iran has maybe 60 front line modern aircraft & maybe 100 SAM style launchers. Whether or not these assets are tied to the 3 major nuclear sites, they will be overwhelmed. The question in my mind is will Bush & Cheney dictate to the US military how & when todoo the job. This administration has a track record for screwing up when it concerns military matters, and a screw up in dealing with Iran could lead to a bit of a bloody nose for the US military.

On the Offensive side of the plate:

Sunburn missile:.

"In July 1999, defense analyst Richard D. Fisher wrote an evaluation of the Russian-built Sunburn missile being sold to China. A senior fellow at the Jamestown Foundation, a Washington based think-tank, Fisher reported that the SS-N-22 may be capable of a dive speed of Mach 4.5 that would help it evade U.S. naval defenses. The Sunburn anti-ship missile is perhaps the most lethal anti-ship missile in the world," wrote Fisher in a review of the Chinese navy. The Sunburn combines a Mach 2.5 speed with a very low-level flight pattern that uses violent end maneuvers to throw off defenses. After detecting the Moskit, the U.S. Navy Phalanx point defense system may have only 2.5 seconds to calculate a fire solution -- not enough time before the devastating impact of a 750-lb. warhead."

From Will Pitt:

It is Iran's missile armaments that pose the greatest concern for American forces in the Gulf, especially for the US Navy. Iran's coast facing the Persian Gulf is a looming wall of mountains that look down upon any naval forces arrayed in those waters. The Gulf itself only has one exit, the Strait of Hormuz, which is also dominated by the mountainous Iranian coastline. In essence, Iran holds the high ground in the Gulf. Missile batteries arrayed in those mountains could raise bloody havoc with any fleet deployed below.

Of all the missiles in Iran's armament, the most dangerous is the Russian-made SS-N-22 Sunburn. These missiles are, simply, the fastest anti-ship weapons on the planet. The Sunburn can reach Mach 3 at high altitude. Its maximum low-altitude speed is Mach 2.2, some three times faster than the American-made Harpoon. The Sunburn takes two short minutes to cover its full range. The missile's manufacturers state that one or two missiles could cripple a destroyer, and five missiles could sink a 20,000 ton ship. The Sunburn is also superior to the Exocet missile. Recall that it was two Exocets that ripped the USS Stark to shreds in 1987, killing 37 sailors. The Stark could not see them to stop them.

I think its important to note how Will Pitt places the use of the Sunburn in a terrain specific scenario. I think that a sea based attack on Iran should not come from a task force in the Persian Gulf, but rather from the Arabian Sea. ThePersiann Gulf is a bad spot to be in if Iran gets a shot at US forces in the Gulf. Global security states that Iran not only has purchased the Sunburn, but also the Chinese-made C-801 and C-802 cruise missiles. The C-801 and C-802 appear to be flexible in that they can be fired from patrol boats, submarines, or even trucks.

I think that as long as the US Navy sails carrier groups into the Persian Gulf, what we are seeing is battleship diplomacy. Iran has made some purchases that may give Iran a chance to blow some stuff up, if it comes to an actual shooting war. That'ss not to say the the US Military wont get to its targets, it will. The more I think about it, the more I think the US will not attack Iran using the US Navy. What possibly may be the best US bunker buster is the GBU-28, dropped from a plane, it weighs 4400 pounds. 4400 pounds dropped from 60,000 ft may penetrate a few hundred feet. Never the less I think the best we can do is to blow up the doors to the tunnels, that lead to the bunkered nuclear facilities.

Hopefully the cabal understands this and will settle for a little saber rattling, battleship diplomacy, if you will.