Monday, July 17, 2006

Analysis of the SAAR 5 Corvette strike..

Initial assessment of C-802 missile engagment against IDF Saar 5 AAW vessel. FR Exclusive | July 15, 2006 | Jeff Head On July 14th the IDF's best anti-air defense vessel was mission killed by a strike from shore off the Beruit, Lebannon coast. It appears that the vessel was hit by a guided missile, launched either by Iranian trained Hezbollah, or by Iranian Guards themselves operating out of Lebannon. The missile was apparently a Chinese-made C-802 which is a sub sonic surface to surface anti-shipping missile. The Iranians have purchased a lot of these from China, and is working with N. Korea to improve the design. The missile is capable of a sea-skimming approach, and reportedly outfitted to engage in a high electronic counterm measrue (ECM) environment. On July 14th, it proved, to the advantage of Hezbollah, Iran, China, and N. Korea, that it was capable of doing so in certain engagement envelopes against some of the best western technology available. The Saar 5 is thought to be the best AAW, Corvette-sized class in the world, rivaling the firepower and capabilities of many nations much larger guided missile destroyers. With two 32 cell Barak anti-missile launchers, and with a 20mm Phalanx CIWS, and outfitted with high tech ECM instrumentation, high tech radars, guidance, fire control, and data link capabilities, it was specifcally designed to protect itself and other vessels against just this type of attack. It was there on July 14th to protect the IDF gunboats that were bombarding the Lebannon shore. It was there to protect them and itself precisely form this type of attack. So why did it fail and get mission killed itself with an attack of two missiles, one of which targeted an Egyptian merchant vessel and the other the IDF ship? Here's my initial, thought-out assessment: The IDF had their high value AAW, Saar 5, vessel there to protect its gun boats which were shelling the Lebannon shore. Those gun boat's main batteries have a short range which means the Saar 5 had to be close in to shore to protect them. That allowed it to be targeted in an evironment which minimized it's own defenses and maximized the C-802 capability. They were too close to respond effectively or in enough time. At ten miles (16 km) off-shore, they had perhaps sixty seconds total to defend themselves, but really only the time between detection and impact. Since the C-802 comes in low, and since it would be hard to detect by airborne AWACS, if they were even watching over this part of the battlefield and if they were data linked to the Saar 5, the threat came upon them quickly and they probably had only their own radar event horizon to respond in. This means they had maybe seconds. Either they were not adequately prepared (which is hard to imagine for the IDF), or they were simply too close and did not have enough time. In this environment, the Israelis needs longer ranged shore bombarment capability to avoid putting it's modern, sophisticated AAW vessels at such risk, and to give them more time to resspond to a modern SSM threat. All nations with naval power, the ability to defend it, and the desire to defeat5 it, will study this engagement to the max. My onw opinion is that with mnore time, and in an environment where the Saar 5 systems were maximized, or at least tilted more in their favor, the chances of a successful intercept would have gone up exponentially. But that environemtn was not the environemnt the Saar 5 found itself in on July 14th, 2006. As to the threat to USN vessels. It is the same threat, in confied waters like the Straits of Hormuz, that the USN will have to be prepared to defend against...or perahps in the Western Pacific one day. In order to do so, data linking, longer range, AWACS, opther vessels, will all give the more advanced AEGIS system more time to react. My guess is the USN will conduct heavy air attack suppression of the coastal areas in order to negate as many launchers as possible before attempting to force such waters. If, like the IDF, this luxury is not available or is constrained by political or other necessities, then the threat will be proportionally higher.

No comments: