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.



X. Dell said...

Bery interesting, both this post and the post below. In some ways, what you're describing is almost kind of like an ersatz Warsaw Pact, with countries cooperating with each other in response to what seems like a growing US military hegemony.

The ability to negate the benefits of the stealth technology makes me shake my head and laugh nervously. All the money spent to develop and build the damn'd have thought someone might have pointed out the consequences of design and function that would lead to detection. Then again, I'm almost betting that someone did, somewhere along the way.

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