Precision Fires From the Sea

I’ll leave it to URR to discuss the critical importance of fire support from naval platforms in support of amphibious operations, and our current lack of gun tubes to support that role.

Often just as important as volume of fires is the precision  of fires. The Israeli Defense Forces have a reputation worthy of respect, especially their Air Force and Army. Their Navy is not nearly as visible, but has consistently operated in support of the Army in its efforts ashore. Consider the Gaza Strip.

Gaza has been effectively blockaded now for quite some time. And that is enforced by the Israeli Navy.

It doesn’t take an Alfred Thayer Mahan to see that Gaza’s exposed shoreline also means Israeli ships can be used to engage targets inside Gaza, without inviting counterfire inside Israel.  They can also use their electro optical sensor suites to conduct reconnaissance inside Gaza.

The relatively small area that the Israeli Navy operates in means they can profitably deploy numbers of small patrol craft to operate off Gaza. One such craft is the Super Dvora III patrol boat.

File:S Dvora Mk III 2.jpg

The main battery on the Super Dvora III is usually a 25mm autocannon on a Typhoon mount, which is comparable to our own Navy’s Mk38Mod2 stabilized, remotely controlled mount. But the Israelis have also taken to using the Typhoon mount to carry a few Spike-ER guided missiles.

The Spike is really a family of guided anti-tank missiles, ranging from a very small man portable missile, to a quite large missile with a range of up to 16 miles. The Spike-ER mounted on these boats is in the middle, with a range of about 5 miles. The nifty thing about Spike-ER is that it is guided by a thin fiber optic cable, allowing the shooter to actually see what the missile seeker sees, and fine tune the aiming all the way to point of impact.


This is actually a somewhat more complex engagement than you might first think. It’s unlikely the patrol boat acquired the target itself. A better guess would be that an unarmed drone operating overhead found the target, and either the drone controller sent the coordinates to the boat, or the feed from the drone was directly taken aboard the boat.

Our Navy currently uses either a 5” gun or airpower for fire support from the sea. And while Spike probably isn’t the answer we need to be looking at for precision engagement of point targets ashore, we definitely need to start thinking about what we do want, and how to quickly and cheaply achieve that.

H/T CDR Salamander.

Brief thoughts on the Gaza cease fire

So Israel has announced a unilateral cease fire and pulled its troops out of Gaza. Some on the right are unhappy that Israel has ceased offensive actions so soon. But here’s the thing- they were rapidly reaching the point of diminishing returns. All military actions take place in a political sphere, both domestic and international.

Domestic Israeli politics supported the incursion as a means to curb Hamas rocket attacks on Israel, provided there were not a lot of casualties among the Israeli ground forces.

Internationally, there was generally support (or at least muted condemnation) for the same goal.

Israel could reasonably expect its operations in Gaza to attrit a portion of the Hamas leadership, locate and destroy stockpiles of rockets and the production centers for them, disrupt the smuggling tunnel network and punish Hamas enough to make them reconsider the efficacy of their rocket attacks.

What ground operations could not be expected to do was destroy Hamas as a political entity, nor cow the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip to the point where they sued for peace. And Israel has no desire at all to engage in long term occupation of Gaza. That would be costly in terms of money, leave Israeli troops vulnerable to attack by insurgent forces and undermine domestic political support and international forbearance of their actions.

As to the timing of the cease fire, there can be reasonable disagreement whether it came too soon, too late, or just right, but to argue that Israel could have continued to fight in Gaza without paying an undue penalty of some sort is niave.

Things that really piss me off…

Via Mere Rhetoric, news on bringing war criminals to justice:

Israel has formally presented the UN with evidence outlining Hamas’s military exploitation of Palestinian civilians. The UN has responded by tasking at least two commissions with gathering evidence for war crimes prosecutions related to Palestinian civilian casualties. Prosecutions of Israeli officials of course. Not Hamas officials. Because how would that make any sense? (emphasis mine-XBradTC)

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Why I don’t always trust the Palestinian press…

The Palestinian press often try to portray Israel’s actions as disproportionate and bloodthirsty. Now, I won’t deny that there has been a great deal of civilian blood shed in the recent fighting. But I will say that I take Hamas claims with a grain of salt. Here’s why…

Continue reading “Why I don’t always trust the Palestinian press…”

Wanna see someone a lot braver than me?

CQB stands for Close Quarters Battle- usually considered to be fighting inside a building. But sometimes terrain can put you in a very close gunfight. And what do you do if the bad guy tosses a grenade at you?

H/T: Ace

Continue reading “Wanna see someone a lot braver than me?”

Qassam Rockets

The recent Israeli incursion into the Gaza Strip, Operation Cast Lead, was prompted by the ongoing rain of Qassam rockets into southern Israel.

The Qassam is not a military weapon, but rather a terror weapon. It’s accuracy is far too poor for anything other than aiming at a town, as opposed to targeting a military installation.

As a result of the Israeli embargo of the Gaza, smuggling weapons in to Hamas has been difficult. In response, Hamas began production of crude rockets only slightly more sophisticated than the model rockets we can build in our homes. A Qassam is merely a steel tube filled with homemade rocket propellant and topped with a crude explosive warhead. It has absolutely no guidance system. The only “guidance” it has is fins at the tail, and an angle-iron launch rail than looks only slightly more sophisticated than a bent coathanger.


dotz06070705jpgsmallBeing so crude, it doesn’t take much of a factory to build them, and you can see that it doesn’t take a huge base of operations to shoot them. Hamas has a particular affinity for launching Qassams from schoolyards, residential districts and of course, from the grounds of mosques. It is had for the Israelis to pinpoint launchers and storage spots. But they do…


Well, there’s a shock… not.

Israeli newspaper Haaretz is reporting a barrage of Katyusha rockets has struck a nursing home in the Israeli town of Nahariya. In response to the three rockets fired from Lebanon, Israeli forces fired five rounds of artillery at the launch point.

Now, how do the Israelis know where to shoot? Well, it’s simple math. Virtually all of the northern border of Israel is scanned by special radars known as “Firefinders.” They detect and track artillery shells and rockets. And since artillery shells and rockets follow a parabolic trajectory, by tracking just a short portion of the flight of the projectile will tell you where it will hit. It also will tell you where it was fired from. A well trained crew can get the launch point coordinates to an artillery crew before the rockets or shells even hit. A really well trained gun crew can have rounds fired at the launch point before the enemy shells have landed. This type of artillery duel is known as “counter-battery fire.”


As for the political implications of this attack in the north, we’ll wait to see what tomorrow brings.

Update: Hezbollah denies firing the riockets. It was probably a Hezbollah inspired proxy group. So far it looks like a nuisance attack, and not the start of a campaign.

Here’s a war crime for you…

Israel, as a part of Operation Cast Lead (the current operation to suppress rocket attacks from Gaza) bombed a mosque. I’m sure some folks immediately pointed out that bombing a religious structure is a war crime in contravention with the Geneva Accords and all other sorts of arguments.

But here’s the thing. Israel isn’t the one committing a war crime here. Hamas is.

Watch the video. You clearly see the initial explosion, followed immediately by a massive secondary explosion and several smaller secondaries. That’s proof there were weapons stored there. Which is an act in violation of the law of war, and which act removed the mosque from its protected status.

Video below the fold:

Continue reading “Here’s a war crime for you…”