Surface to Air Missile for Surface to Surface use. DIY weaponeering.

So, the other day, @ThinkDefence shared a tweet that took me here:

The surprising move by Libya Dawn that resulted in the conversion of several S-125 surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) into surface-to-surface missiles is not the only of its kind in Libya. Indeed, initiated at roughly the same time, Libya Dawn also worked on the conversion of 2K12 SAMs to the surface-to-surface role. The first contraption, seen above, combines an Italian produced Puma 6×6 APC with the launch section of a Soviet designed 2K12 SAM system.

The collapse of Libya into a mishmash of competing factions means that there really isn’t a lot of new weapons being imported beyond perhaps some small arms.

That being the case, the combatants are forced to make do with what they have on hand. There’s not really much of an air war going on, so Surface to Air missile systems are not exactly a priority. But in the old Ghaddafi days, they were, if only because they’d been raided a few times by A-6s, A-7s, and F-111s.

The 2K12, better known in the West as the SA-6  Gainful, was something of a rude surprise to the Israelis when they first faced it in Egyptian hands in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. It’s rather dated technology by today’s standards, but still a credible threat.

But again, the factions in Libya don’t really need SAMs. So apparently, they’re using these as unguided surface to surface missiles.  As the Onyx Blog notes, they have a poor warhead and fuze for this role, but shooting something is better than nothing.

And it isn’t as if they’re the only ones to use SAMs in a surface to surface role. US Navy Arleigh Burke class destroyers beginning with DDG-79 USS Oscar Austin don’t carry the Harpoon anti-ship missile, and so rely on their anti-aircraft SM-2 missiles for the anti-surface role.

One program that never came to fruition, sadly, was a recent one involving the SM-2. Earlier blocks of SM-2 missiles have been replaced in service by newer, longer ranged versions of the SM-2, and now also by the SM-6, featuring basically the same airframe and autopilot, but also incorporating the radar seeker from the AIM-120 AMRAAM and the IIR seeker from the AIM-9X.  This new production meant a couple thousand earlier SM-2s were surplus to needs. Someone in the Navy or at Raytheon had the bright idea to convert them for land attack use. The SM-4* Land Attack Standard Missile (LASM) program was born.

LASM took a surplus SM-2 and replaced the Semi-Active Radar Homing guidance system with an INS/GPS system. The firing ship would simply input the map coordinates of the target, and launch the missile. The missile could fly a very efficient ballistic or semi-ballistic path to the target, which meant its range would be considerably greater than for the air to air role. While its warhead would be no great shakes against any hardened target, it would be fairly effective against soft targets.

For whatever reason, most likely budgetary, LASM was cancelled. Which, to us, seems a shame, as the next logical step to us would have been to equip it with the seeker from the AGM-88 HARM, and use the LASM to suppress land based air defenses in support of carrier operations.

 

*SM-3 is a ballistic missile defense variant of the Standard Missile Family.

What a Statesman Sounds Like

The contrast with our President is stark indeed.  A clear and rational petition for the safety and existence of his nation and his people.

Small wonder that Obama and the far-left Democrats objected so much to Netanyahu’s appeal for the survival of Israel.  We get the Cairo speech, and “don’t insult Islam”.

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What’s some of the reaction to Netanyahu’s speech from the Arab world?

Tzvi Yechezkieli, the Arab affairs expert of Channel 10, said that many Arab commentators supported the content of Netanyahu’s speech. He cited a commentator on Al-Arabiya TV, who had said that he could have written a large part of the speech.

Yechezkieli said that the Arab countries are convinced that Obama will not safeguard their security interests in the current negotiations with Iran and will not protect them against Iranian aggression.

The above is not isolated opinion, either.  There was this on Bibi’s speech at AIPAC:

Yesterday, Faisal J. Abbas, the powerful Editor-in-Chief of Al Arabiya English, published an editorial under the headline: “President Obama, listen to Netanyahu on Iran.” Abbas’ editorial was a reaction to Netanyahu’s speech to AIPAC yesterday.

He wrote: “In just a few words, Mr. Netanyahu managed to accurately summarize a clear and present danger, not just to Israel (which obviously is his concern), but to other U.S. allies in the region.”

The Saudi Daily Al-Jazirah published an article written by Dr. Ahmad Al-Faraj, who supported Netanyahu’s decision to speak to the U.S. Congress against the upcoming deal with Iran. He called Obama “one of the worst American presidents” and said that Netanyahu’s campaign against the deal is justified because it also serves the interests of the Gulf States.

Barack Obama and his fellow travelers seem to be the only ones, aside from Iran, that were critical of the Prime Minister’s address.

Sea Skua

Elizzar mentioned the Sea Skua missile’s use in the Falklands war in the comments of an earlier post. And it’s one of my favorite little missiles.

Developed in the late 1970s to give Royal Navy helicopters an Anti-Surface Warfare (ASuW) capability against smaller ships such as patrol boats, the Sea Skua had a remarkably fast development time from the first test firings, on the order of about three years, and was fielded and operational in time for the Falklands in 1982.

The helicopter it was designed for, the Westland Sea Lynx, is a fairly small helicopter, so the Sea Skua was designed to be fairly small itself, with an all up round weighing in at around 300 pounds. Each Sea Lynx could carry up to four missiles.

Most anti-ship missiles use either active radar homing (that is, they carry their own radar to search for a target) or infra-red homing, seeking the heat of the target. The Sea Skua, somewhat unusually, uses semi-active radar homing. That is, the launching Sea Lynx shines its radar on the target, and a radar receiver in the missile homes in on the reflected radar energy. This has a significant drawback in that the launching helicopter has to keep its radar locked on the target for the entire time of flight of the missile. But the choice of guidance systems also has some advantages. First, it was likely cheaper and faster to develop. Second, with the decent range of Sea Skua (roughly 15 miles) the launching helicopter is out of range of most small ship defenses, so tracking the target isn’t an unduly risky proposition. Third, semi-active homing means that the launching helicopter can be sure the missile attacks the correct target, and will not be spoofed to attack either a neutral or lower value target. As a contrast, the Argentine Exocet that destroyed the MV Atlantic Conveyor was (probably) targeted as HMS Illustrious, but was spoofed by chaff, and stumbled upon Atlantic Conveyor afterwards.

The Sea Skua has a small warhead, by anti-ship missile standards, just 62 pounds. And given that it strikes above the waterline, it’s highly unlikely for one missile to sink any but the smallest of targets. But the warhead is sufficient to render most small vessels incapable of continuing the fight. That’s called a “mission kill.” For the most part, simply taking a ship out of the fight is sufficient.

In its introduction to combat in the Falklands, Sea Skua was used to damage an Argentinian patrol boat. Its next foray into combat was during Desert Storm, where considerable numbers were expended against the Iraqi navy with good effect, sinking or badly damaging about a dozen ships.

Just as the Westland Lynx has enjoyed considerable export success, so naturally has the Sea Skua. Users beside the Royal Navy include Germany, Brazil, Malaysia, India, Kuwait, Pakistan, and Korea.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kRQXbSC0IJo]

The Sea Skua can also be installed and launched from small surface ships too small to accommodate other larger anti-ship missiles.

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[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iAh8Pv5F-yA]

The US Navy, finding itself in need of a missile system to equip its own SH-60 Seahawk helicopters, opted instead for the Norwegian designed Penguin missile. Unlike Sea Skua, Penguin uses an infra-red seeker. In addition, for even smaller threats, most Seahawks can now carry four or eight Hellfire semi-active laser guided missiles, with a range of about 5 miles. The much smaller Hellfire is quite sufficient for attacking the very small fast boats that would constitute a swarm type attack.

Sea Skua itself, after an admirable career over three decades long, is slated to be replace by a newer missile, Sea Venom, sometime around 2020.

Israeli News Report: Obama Threatened to Shoot Down IAF Iran Strike

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From Israelnationalnews.com via Drudge.

The Bethlehem-based news agency Ma’an has cited a Kuwaiti newspaper report Saturday, that US President Barack Obama thwarted an Israeli military attack against Iran’s nuclear facilities in 2014 by threatening to shoot down Israeli jets before they could reach their targets in Iran.

Not for the first time, Carter-era National Security Advisor (and anti-Semite/anti-Israel) Zbigniew Brzezinski advised shooting down Israeli aircraft to prevent them from striking the nuclear facilities of a mortal enemy that has vowed the destruction of the Jewish state.  It appears, if this report is true, that Obama actually agreed to such a notion.

Israel is far from a perfect ally, and they can be a thorn in the side of America even at the best of times.  But they are the only western-style free democracy in the Middle East.  They are also a valuable friend.  Conversely, Iran is an oppressive theocracy that has promised the destruction not only of Israel but of the United States, as well.  They are a destabilizing force in a strategic region, hostile to American interests and to those of our allies.

That Obama chose to heed the advice of the National Security Advisor of a pathetic weakling of a President speaks volumes (though Obama makes Jimmy Carter look like Bismarck). That he chose to make such a strong threat against an ally rather than our myriad Islamic fundamentalist enemies is positively thunderous.  Obama hates American power and influence, just as he does that of Israel and the UK.  He is an Islamist sympathizer and a statist communist, just as Rudy Giuliani had the courage to say publicly.   Obama is positively hot for a deal with Iran that would cede to them the ability to develop nuclear weapons, which they have promised to use against Israel.

The notion that the US would threaten an ally who wanted to strike Iran would seem preposterous under any other President.  I don’t know if it is true now, either, but such a thing is much more plausible with an anti-American, anti-Western communist in the White House.

What would have been the effect if Ronald Reagan had made a similar threat and stifled the Osirak strike?  Or George W. Bush had threatened Israel into canceling the attack on Syria’s nuclear facility in 2007?

There are 600+ days left of this malignant cabal of anti-American ultra-liberals in the Executive Branch.  One hopes there remains something resembling the United States of America on Inauguration Day, 2017.  And that our credibility and relationships with our allies around the world have not been irreparably damaged.  On Tuesday I will listen to Benjamin Netanyahu carefully.  I hope others do, too.

 

So Let's Let 'Em Have Nukes!

…what a great idea.

After all, just because they conduct naval maneuvers to practice sinking US warships is no reason to think they are hostile toward the United States.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=698f0uYzswU

Just like threatening to wipe Israel off the map is no indicator of any latent dislike of our ally.  More diplomatic success for our anti-American President.

Vice Admiral Rowden's Message

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You can read the text of it over at Salamander’s place.  Micromanagement?  Possibly.  Necessary?  Some folks, among which is a guy named Greenert, seem to think so.  From where I sit, it seems there is some serious concern (finally) on the part of Navy leadership from the CNO on down, including SURFPAC, that our numbered Fleet Commanders don’t know how to fight their fleets, that Task Force Commanders do not know how to fight their task forces, nor Battle Group Commanders their Battle Groups, or individual COs and Officers, their warships.   There is, it is suspected, a lack of understanding of warfighting at all levels.  From the Operational Arts, to doctrine and tactics, down to techniques, and procedures, there is an alarming lack of understanding in areas for which we should strive for mastery.  In addition, it is likely that there is serious question about the true state of readiness of our fleet and the ships and aircraft (and Sailors) which comprise it.  Maintenance, training, proficiency, mindset, all these are suspect.

SandF2Oct14

I think SURFPAC’s message is a very good step in the right direction.  It may also shake out the most egregious impediments to training for war, both self-inflicted and externally imposed.  This includes peripheral tasks that take up inordinate time and attention, maintenance and manpower shortcomings that render weapons and engineering systems non-mission capable, and jumping through burdensome administrative hoops required to perform the most basic of combat training.

turner_photo051

I cannot say whether or not VADM Rowden dislikes Mission Command.  I hope that he does not, because the ability of junior commanders to take the initiative and act boldly across widely-flung battlefields in the absence of orders has been the critical element of success for many centuries.  But Mission Command requires junior leaders who are positively imbued in their craft, and senior leaders who understand what must be done and can clearly express their intent (and then have the courage to trust their subordinates).   The entirety of the US Navy, more so perhaps than the other services, must rely on such leadership for its survival in combat with an enemy.  Unfortunately, the Navy may be the service that has become the most over-supervised and zero-defect-laden bastion of micromanagement in all of DoD.

Gunnery training aboard U.S.S. Astoria (CA-34), spring 1942.

Vice Admiral Rowden’s message has an almost desperate tone to it.   As if, to quote Service, Navy leadership realizes that it is later than you think.  One cannot help but be reminded of the myriad comments from US cruiser sailors in 1942.  Following initial and deadly encounters with a skilled and fearsome Japanese Navy in the waters off the Solomons, many deckplate sailors swore they would never again bitch about the seemingly incessant gunnery and damage control drills that interrupted their shipboard lives.    Like 1942, a Naval clash against a near-peer who can muster temporary advantage will be a costly affair where even the winner is badly bloodied.  Unlike 1942, there is no flood of new warships on the slips which can make good such losses.

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Words from an earlier post of USS Hugh W. Hadley, on the picket line off Okinawa, reinforce the importance of what VADM Rowden wants:

LESSONS LEARNED, CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS:

                      1.  It must be impressed that constant daily drills in damage control using all personnel on the ship and especially those who are not in the regular damage control parties will prove of  value when emergencies occur.  The various emergency pumps which were on board were used effectively to put out fires.  Damage control schools proved their great value and every member of the crew is now praising this training.

                      2.  I was amazed at the performance of the 40 and 20 guns.  Contrary to my expectation, those smaller guns shot down the bulk of the enemy planes. Daily the crews had dinned into their minds the following order “LEAD THAT  PLANE”.  Signs were painted at the gun stations as follows “LEAD THAT PLANE”.  It worked, they led and the planes flew right through our projectiles.

Not the things of (fill in the blank) History Month or of SAPR or “diversity” training….

TACTOM synthetic guidance- now with video!

We mentioned the use of offboard guidance to guide a TACTOM Tomahawk missile against a moving naval target. Here’s the video.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jgv5ixxgTsQ]

That’s not a warhead, by the way. That’s simply leftover jet fuel from the Tomahawk’s engine burning. For test shots like this, the warhead is replaced with ballast and telemetry. First, you want to gather as much information as possible. Second, you want to do as little damage to the (relatively expensive) target as possible.  A warshot would have a 1000 pound blast/fragmentation warhead. While that likely wouldn’t sink the target, hitting so far above the waterline, it would certainly do a good deal of damage to any warship, likely rendering it a “mission kill” where it could not be expected to continue to operate in a threat environment.

And yes, pigeons is misspelled.