Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 04-14-2018, 09:48 PM
GMANCANADA GMANCANADA is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Toronto
Posts: 138
Tomahawk Cruise Missiles

I was just reading on CNN.com about the Tomahawk missiles that US fired into Syria. They mentioned this is the US "go-to" missiles for this type of strike and these were the same type of missiles they used in the 1991 Gulf War.

Given the massive technological changes since 1991, I find it odd that these would be the "exact" same missile type. I assume there have been significant tech upgrades since them.

Question: Are these the exact same technologically as their 1991 version? If not, what have the upgrades been (besides "new firmware update v4.013").
  #2  
Old 04-14-2018, 09:53 PM
scr4 scr4 is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Alabama
Posts: 14,910
Wikipedia has a fairly long list of upgrades done to the Tomahawk.
  #3  
Old 04-14-2018, 10:21 PM
Velocity Velocity is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2014
Posts: 12,345
They're not the same. They've been continuously upgraded and tweaked. Very different now than 1991. Some versions are almost more like drones than missiles.

Last edited by Velocity; 04-14-2018 at 10:22 PM.
  #4  
Old 04-14-2018, 10:37 PM
GMANCANADA GMANCANADA is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Toronto
Posts: 138
Thank you. Never thought to check wiki.
Great info - curiosity satisfied.
  #5  
Old 04-15-2018, 03:38 AM
Capn Carl Capn Carl is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2017
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Posts: 179
A little off topic, but I had to laugh when I read that the Syrians claimed to have intercepted 13 of the missiles. Those things are very hard to shoot down.
  #6  
Old 04-15-2018, 05:23 AM
thirdname thirdname is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: East Coast of USA
Posts: 3,327
Quote:
Originally Posted by Capn Carl View Post
A little off topic, but I had to laugh when I read that the Syrians claimed to have intercepted 13 of the missiles. Those things are very hard to shoot down.
Are they? The Tomahawk is a subsonic, non-stealthy missile. They generally fly in at low altitude in order to try to get under enemy radar and give a shorter window of time in which to engage them. But I don't see any reason why a missile or gun in the right place would have any trouble. I've seen past footage of Tomahawks flying into Iraq during broad daylight at altitude so low that an individual with a machine gun might be able to get off a lucky shot.

According to Wikipedia some of the targets were hit with the air-launched AGM-158 which is indeed stealthy.
  #7  
Old 04-15-2018, 06:12 AM
Der Trihs's Avatar
Der Trihs Der Trihs is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: California
Posts: 38,599
Quote:
Originally Posted by thirdname View Post
Are they? The Tomahawk is a subsonic, non-stealthy missile. They generally fly in at low altitude in order to try to get under enemy radar and give a shorter window of time in which to engage them. But I don't see any reason why a missile or gun in the right place would have any trouble.
The fact that they fly low makes it much less likely that a missile or gun will be in the right place.

Also, shooting down missiles is simply a very hard thing to do.
  #8  
Old 04-15-2018, 08:42 AM
MikeF MikeF is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 1,456
Do they transmit their position back to "HQ" while en route? I would assume so, as its important to know whether they reached the intended target.
  #9  
Old 04-15-2018, 09:51 AM
Johnny L.A. Johnny L.A. is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: NoWA
Posts: 59,687
I started working at Edwards AFB doing data entry and making reports in support of the AGM-109 Tomahawk and AGM-86 ALCM test programs.
  #10  
Old 04-15-2018, 10:17 AM
MichaelEmouse MichaelEmouse is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 6,492
I presume that any of the older Tomahawks which are still around are kept for less demanding targets or sent in greater numbers.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Capn Carl View Post
A little off topic, but I had to laugh when I read that the Syrians claimed to have intercepted 13 of the missiles. Those things are very hard to shoot down.
In the 70s and 80s, in areas that afford lots of terrain masking opportunities, like Europe, or against an overwhelmed opponent unprepared for them, like Iraq, absolutely.

I understand that the terrain in Syria is usually quite flat. I don't know what kind of tech the Russians are helping the Syrian government with but if they're helping with airborne radars with lookdown capability (or even this https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beriev_A-50) and have point-defense systems like this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pantsir-S1 they might well have shot them down.

Still, they could be lying and even if it's true, we'd need to know how many cruise missiles hit their targets for those 13 that got intercepted.
  #11  
Old 04-15-2018, 11:07 AM
Stranger On A Train Stranger On A Train is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Manor Farm
Posts: 18,688
Quote:
Originally Posted by thirdname View Post
Are they? The Tomahawk is a subsonic, non-stealthy missile. They generally fly in at low altitude in order to try to get under enemy radar and give a shorter window of time in which to engage them. But I don't see any reason why a missile or gun in the right place would have any trouble. I've seen past footage of Tomahawks flying into Iraq during broad daylight at altitude so low that an individual with a machine gun might be able to get off a lucky shot.
Concur. Although the BGM-109 ‘Tomahawk’ missile as received numerous upgrades and capability expansions since its introduction almost forty years ago, it uses essentially the same airframe and engine. Aside from its small size, the primary defense (and innovation) against interception was the use of Terrain Contour Matching (TERCOM), allowing it to fly in a nap-of-the-earth (NOE) trajectory, only a few tens of meters above the surface and following convoluted terrain through mountains and valleys. This was a great strategy in Central and Eastern Europe, where it was designed to be used, with its mountainous geography, but not so great in the Middle East, much of which is pretty flat. Syria does have a coastal range and some mountainous highlands near Lebannon, but there are obvious passes and placing anti-aircraft and CIWS-type point defense weapons could potentially intercept the subsonic, not-particularly-stealthy subsonic cruise missile at short range, especially of the Syrian Air Force has aircraft with integrated “Look Down/Shoot Down” capability that can integrate with ground defense forces.

And while I’m not familiar with the current state of the Syrian military, they have traditionally been one of the largest customers of the Soviet Union and Russia for weapons sales, particularly aircraft, radar detection systems, and surface-to-air (SAM) missiles, at one point around the time of the Six Day War and Yom Kippur War deploying the largest interlocking SAM defenses using the SA-2 ‘Guideline’ and SA-6 ‘Gainful’ every deplowed outside the Warsaw Pact nations. It is not implausible that Russia has supplied Syria (with which it has maintained a cozy relationship and backed the Assad regime against near-universal international condemnation) with modern air defense systems capabile to shoot down the Tomahawk cruise missile.

Stranger
  #12  
Old 04-15-2018, 11:17 AM
bardos bardos is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Maui
Posts: 904
Take it for what it's worth: "The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights managed to monitor interception by the regime forces to tens of missiles which targeted their positions and military bases in the Syrian territory, where several intersected sources confirmed to the Syrian Observatory, that the number of missiles that were downed, exceeded 65 missiles … "
  #13  
Old 04-15-2018, 12:25 PM
Corry El Corry El is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 3,116
Quote:
Originally Posted by bardos View Post
Take it for what it's worth: "The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights managed to monitor interception by the regime forces to tens of missiles which targeted their positions and military bases in the Syrian territory, where several intersected sources confirmed to the Syrian Observatory, that the number of missiles that were downed, exceeded 65 missiles … "
Although the Syrians also officially said 110 missiles were fired. The Russians say 71 were shot down.

It's certainly possible for AD systems to shoot down Tomahawks, which rather resemble in size and speed the easier subsonic target drones AD forces tend to exercise against, those that frequently do.*

However the airborne component of that technology is almost surely not relevant in this case. Even if the Syrians have some flyable fighters with look down/shoot down radar/missile combinations it's not enough to have sufficient (or probably any actually) standing patrols, and very unlikely to be enough warning to scramble in time to shoot down missiles.

For long range SAM systems, the problem is that even in 'flat' terrain the earth is round so the range against targets at terrain level is quite limited. A few highly capable long range SAM batteries can't effectively protect a large area v low altitude attackers.

The by far most plausible claim would be that SAM (or SAM/gun) systems *at* particular targets downed missiles attacking those particular targets.

This run down of missiles and targets gives no less than 76 missiles (53 Tomahawk and 19 stealthy JASSM's from B-1's) against the principal target complex. That makes it plausible AD assets could be concentrated there (the Syrians must have also viewed as it important, presumably) and shot down missiles, but if the timing programs of the missiles work and they all arrive around the same time it's very hard in practice to react fast enough to shoot down many let alone most or all of them. Again even in 'flat terrain' besides and even the horizon limitation there will be some clutter near the ground, they won't be detected that far away, even the Tomahawks let alone the JASSM's.
http://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone...ttack-on-syria

The rest of the strikes per that site and similar less detailing info by CNN is 22 missiles v another single target, out of a total of 66 Tomahawk, 19 JASSM (from B-1's), 8 Storm Shadow (RAF Tornado's) and 12 SCALP (French ship and a/c) launched.

The US DoD says all missiles landed before any of the 40 SAM's launched by the Syrians were fired. I find this credible, as separate from the *possibility* of downing some Tomahawks or even the other stealthier missiles used, which certainly exists in general.

*although the drones sometimes use signature enhancers to look bigger radar and/or IR wise. Anyway a real issue is the tendency to exercise against non-stealthy subsonic targets because it's easier and cheaper, though the threat can include supersonic (for example Russian/Chinese antiship) missiles or stealthy subsonic cruise missiles. US/Western AD systems are *tested* against supersonic targets, but it's less common for rank and file AD forces to *exercise* frequently against the more difficult targets they might face, whether speed or signature.
  #14  
Old 04-15-2018, 01:03 PM
bardos bardos is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Maui
Posts: 904
For me, what's interesting is that post Cold War I, the Russians seem to have concentrated their efforts in greater part on defensive strategies while the US has gone for mostly offensive strategies. YMMV. In other news President Trump reportedly received a letter at the White House yesterday:

Dearest Donald,
Attacking Russia may not be the smartest thing to do,
signed, Adolf and Monsieur Bonaparte
  #15  
Old 04-15-2018, 03:46 PM
Leo Bloom Leo Bloom is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Here
Posts: 13,397
The Militaries, undoubtedly for political as well as tech/logistic reasons used a package of Tomahawks and SCALP/Storm Shadows.

1. Any idea on other missiles or armaments (not electronic support/suppression platforms, etc--things that go boom)?

2. The overall commanders--"US-led?"--how near-real-time was the missile data made available to them? Ie, how incompatible are they?

3. Despite my own first sentence here, don't the Brits and French have Tomahawks as well?
  #16  
Old 04-15-2018, 03:53 PM
DinoR DinoR is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 2,985
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stranger On A Train View Post
And while I’m not familiar with the current state of the Syrian military,
For air defense missile systems is likely in a pretty horrible state. Israel hasn't been kind to them. Mostly that's in order to focus on Hezbollah and IRGC supporting Syria but that means dealing with the air defense forces that provide their protection. The Israeli air force has conducted "thousands of missions" (cite) over Syria in 2017 alone and more than 100 strikes during the civil war. (cite)

The response to the IDF F-16 that was shot down in February was pretty big, too. From that first cite:
Quote:
In the biggest air operation since 1982, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) launched a series of coordinated strikes against the regime’s elite 4th Mechanized Division outside of Damascus; against a number of IRGC command posts; and against the strategically vital Tiyas air base in Homs province. According to IAF officials, roughly 50 percent of Syria’s entire air defense network was destroyed, dealing a catastrophic blow to the regime’s already limited ability to defend itself from air attack.
Even if you throw in a hefty dose of skepticism about both Israeli motivation to be accurate and BDA accuracy, it's significant. That air defense network has been regularly dealing with Israeli missions. The pace of IAF operations has been ramping up lately. That's a good hint that the remaining capacity is severely degraded. Six years of the IAF suppressing an air defense network is "gonna leave a mark."
  #17  
Old 04-15-2018, 04:01 PM
Leo Bloom Leo Bloom is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Here
Posts: 13,397
cx.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Leo Bloom View Post
...

1. Any idea on other missiles or armaments (not electronic support/suppression platforms, etc--things that go boom)? [Tomahawks Scalp JASSM] [underline inserted]...
  #18  
Old 04-15-2018, 04:02 PM
Declan Declan is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Barrie , Ontario
Posts: 5,236
Quote:
Originally Posted by Capn Carl View Post
A little off topic, but I had to laugh when I read that the Syrians claimed to have intercepted 13 of the missiles. Those things are very hard to shoot down.
I cant say for certain if the package exists, but there is a possibility that some of them had anti-radiation homing seekers. Marine Corp Prowlers were in the strike for jamming and wild weasel duties, some of those missiles would have been decoys and pen aids. So I can't discount that some were shot down, and some may have been intentionally sacrificed taking out targets of opportunity. The Russians were supposed to have an Awac's in the are to complement the 400's, either the T-hawks are that much better or the Russians withheld info from the syrians.
__________________
What would Bugs Bunny say
  #19  
Old 04-15-2018, 04:05 PM
Asuka Asuka is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2016
Posts: 791
Quote:
Originally Posted by bardos View Post
For me, what's interesting is that post Cold War I, the Russians seem to have concentrated their efforts in greater part on defensive strategies while the US has gone for mostly offensive strategies. YMMV. In other news President Trump reportedly received a letter at the White House yesterday:

Dearest Donald,
Attacking Russia may not be the smartest thing to do,
signed, Adolf and Monsieur Bonaparte
The problem with fighting Russia seems to be invading deep into their own soil. Get them to invade something else is where all their problems lie. Reading articles about Russian military performance in the Ukraine and Syria makes it seem like they lack the logistics required for serious long-term operations.
  #20  
Old 04-15-2018, 04:46 PM
Corry El Corry El is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 3,116
Quote:
Originally Posted by Leo Bloom View Post
The Militaries, undoubtedly for political as well as tech/logistic reasons used a package of Tomahawks and SCALP/Storm Shadows.

1. Any idea on other missiles or armaments (not electronic support/suppression platforms, etc--things that go boom)?

2. The overall commanders--"US-led?"--how near-real-time was the missile data made available to them? Ie, how incompatible are they?

3. Despite my own first sentence here, don't the Brits and French have Tomahawks as well?
1. None mentioned that I saw on sites of any reliability besides Tomahawk, JASSM, Storm Shadow/SCALP.
2. I'm not sure how this could be quantified with open source info but in general there are NATO standard systems and protocols for just this purpose. It's
not the situation that would be faced by forces suddenly on the same side in an operation, say if the US and Russia found themselves in that situation.
3. The British do, submarine launched version which has been used in action in past coalition strikes. The French don't, the Missile de Croisičre Naval version of SCALP is their equivalent.

On questions about US/coalition ECM (or cyber, used by the Israeli's against the Syrian AD network apparently in past operations) support who knows and we wouldn't necessarily expect to find out. But again given likely real Syrian stand alone capabilities, not the theoretical performance of advanced Russian AD systems they have received, or even the real performance of Russian AD units, IMO it seems entirely plausible you could simply launch 105 missiles suddenly (in a tactical sense, even if everyone knew the strike was coming eventually) in a 'time on target' way so they all arrive almost simultaneously against the real Syrian AD network and none of them be intercepted, even non-stealthy ones. Also if you look at a terrain map it's not particularly flat around the biggest target, it's hilly. It's altogether plausible IMO none were shot down, nor do I see a reason to positively claim all the Syrian SAM's were launched after the cruise missiles hit if a few were or might have been shot down, and it's not very plausible 71 were shot down.

Whether there was anything really at these sites besides empty buildings, that kind of question is always there in these strikes.

Last edited by Corry El; 04-15-2018 at 04:49 PM.
  #21  
Old 04-15-2018, 05:06 PM
Leo Bloom Leo Bloom is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Here
Posts: 13,397
How far off is "stand-off" for air-delivered missiles? Were the aircraft loitering over Israel (easy, and easy if made public), Jordan (also easy on the first, just a little on the second--I think the B1s were launched from Qatar, eg), the Med, or penetrating in-country?
  #22  
Old 04-15-2018, 05:13 PM
Leo Bloom Leo Bloom is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Here
Posts: 13,397
ETA:
Also, re in-country operations, is it within the realm of possibility, without too far a stretch on how these things go, that we inserted Tactical Air Control Special Forces, or perhaps were aided by Israeli teams in place? (Surely the intelligence from Israel on these cites and defenses must have been most useful.)
  #23  
Old 04-15-2018, 05:33 PM
smithsb's Avatar
smithsb smithsb is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: mid-Pacific
Posts: 2,927
Well we did tell the Russians the strike was coming and when. US spokesman claimed it was for airspace deconfliction purposes (there's going to missiles flying here, here, and here). However, the French said it was much more specific. If one believes the Russians didn't tell their client state Syria, then I have a doozy of a newsletter I can sell you.

The attack was at night (good for tactical surprise and hiding the missiles from ground visual observation) but that also reduces the chances of occupancy. Not killing workers who have probably no other choice is good - not killing the chemical weapon designers and overlords is bad. Compromise is just destroying the facilities. You can find "wag the dog" arguments in the PIT (butt hurt trump takes to twitter again).
  #24  
Old 04-15-2018, 07:08 PM
DinoR DinoR is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 2,985
Quote:
Originally Posted by Leo Bloom View Post
How far off is "stand-off" for air-delivered missiles? Were the aircraft loitering over Israel (easy, and easy if made public), Jordan (also easy on the first, just a little on the second--I think the B1s were launched from Qatar, eg), the Med, or penetrating in-country?
(cite, cite and cite)
UK's Storm Shadow - range of 400km/250 miles. That means they could have almost launched from their airbase in Cyprus. ISTR seeing that they were still relatively close to Cyprus but don't recall where.

France also used the Storm Shadow under a different name (SCALP-EG) with the same range. Firing from international waters over the Med was also a possibility for them. Since they were flying from France firing from the Med would reduce their flight time.

French MdCN - sea-launched with a classified range. Some estimates state 1000 km / 620 miles range. Launched from the Med.

US JASSM - range of 370km / 230 miles and an extended range variant 1000 km / 620 miles.

Tomahawk - 1500 km range. Launched from ships in the Mediterranean along with the Red and Arabian seas.

If you look at the map in the third cite at the top, two of the targets were near, in long-range standoff missile terms, to the Syrian coast on the Med. All of the British and French-specific weapons went into those targets. (Cite from the transcript of the after action briefing by the Pentagon.) The Barzah facility is in the salient surrounded by Jordan, Israel, and Lebanon. That makes overflight for the missiles from the B1s, Red Sea and Arabian Sea an issue. Ranges are long enough there's a lot of options though.
  #25  
Old 04-16-2018, 07:15 AM
Machine Elf Machine Elf is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Challenger Deep
Posts: 11,334
Quote:
Originally Posted by thirdname View Post
I've seen past footage of Tomahawks flying into Iraq during broad daylight at altitude so low that an individual with a machine gun might be able to get off a lucky shot.
It'd be a very lucky shot. It's a small target - 2' diameter, 18' long - and it flies low (100-150') and fast (550 MPH). Also, it's the middle of the night, and this thing is powered by a turbofan, not a rocket, so you won't have any kind of glowing exhaust plume to tell you where in the sky to even look for it.

Even in broad daylight, with that kind of speed, a shooter would need to lead the target by a large margin; to succeed at this without tracers would pretty much be a fluke.
  #26  
Old 04-16-2018, 08:32 AM
carnivorousplant carnivorousplant is offline
KB not found. Press any key
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Central Arkansas
Posts: 57,134
By firing so many missiles did they expect some to be intercepted?
  #27  
Old 04-16-2018, 10:18 AM
gnoitall gnoitall is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 5,929
Quote:
Originally Posted by carnivorousplant View Post
By firing so many missiles did they expect some to be intercepted?
I imagine part of the plan would have been to saturate air defenses.

Route planning for the missiles would have also included at least some being routed to avoid known fixed air-defense sites, but having the Russian AWACS-equivalent doing lookdown detection would have reduced the effectiveness of that in any area in its coverage. Saturation may have been more effective -- it doesn't matter if they can see your missile inbound if their AA guns and SAM launchers are already at 100% utillization.
  #28  
Old 04-16-2018, 11:07 AM
HurricaneDitka HurricaneDitka is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 10,993
The DoD claims their SAM launchers were at 0% utilization while the missiles were inbound, and that the Russian systems weren't activated. I strongly suspect the Russian AWACS-equivalent wasn't passing any information to the Syrian IADS, if it was even airborne at the time of the strike.
  #29  
Old 04-16-2018, 11:08 AM
Fear Itself Fear Itself is offline
Friend of Cecil
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Flavortown
Posts: 35,353
New info on Syrian defensive action:

Quote:
McKenzie said Syrian forces fired only 40 surface-to-air missiles in response to the air strikes -- 31 fewer than the number of Western missiles that Russia said had been shot down by Syrian air defenses.

"Most of these launches occurred after the last impact of our strike was over," McKenzie said of the Syrian interceptor missiles, adding that "they were largely ineffective and increased risk to their own people."

McKenzie said Washington has no indication that Russian air-defense systems were deployed during the joint air strikes.
  #30  
Old 04-16-2018, 11:22 AM
HurricaneDitka HurricaneDitka is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 10,993
Maybe they were 'killing two birds with one stone'?
  #31  
Old 04-16-2018, 02:56 PM
smithsb's Avatar
smithsb smithsb is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: mid-Pacific
Posts: 2,927
Other tidbits. The attacks would have been coordinated with satellite overpasses (US, GB, France). ELINT aircraft would have been sniffing for Russian/Syrian air defense radars and radio communications. Radars popping up have very different signatures in search mode versus targeting/illumination mode. And drones - always the drones!
  #32  
Old 04-16-2018, 03:21 PM
HurricaneDitka HurricaneDitka is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 10,993
I believe this strike was the first combat use of JASSM.
  #33  
Old 04-16-2018, 04:34 PM
carnivorousplant carnivorousplant is offline
KB not found. Press any key
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Central Arkansas
Posts: 57,134
Quote:
Originally Posted by HurricaneDitka View Post
I believe this strike was the first combat use of JASSM.
You are correct.
  #34  
Old 04-16-2018, 04:36 PM
carnivorousplant carnivorousplant is offline
KB not found. Press any key
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Central Arkansas
Posts: 57,134
Quote:
Originally Posted by smithsb View Post
Other tidbits. The attacks would have been coordinated with satellite overpasses (US, GB, France). ELINT aircraft would have been sniffing for Russian/Syrian air defense radars and radio communications. Radars popping up have very different signatures in search mode versus targeting/illumination mode. And drones - always the drones!
According to Wikipedia, you can retarget them while in flight. If someone turns on a radar, might one be redirected to hit said radar?
  #35  
Old 04-16-2018, 05:50 PM
HurricaneDitka HurricaneDitka is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 10,993
Quote:
Originally Posted by carnivorousplant View Post
According to Wikipedia, you can retarget them while in flight. If someone turns on a radar, might one be redirected to hit said radar?
While this is probably technically feasible, I doubt it would happen in most cases for policy reasons. Take this most recent strike for example: The DoD probably spent a good long while vetting the targets, and I imagine doing things like ensuring that approach angles and other factors would minimize the risk of civilian casualties. If a radar suddenly lit up in the middle of a JASSM's ~1 hour flight, I'd be shocked if DoD could get all the approval and sign-offs needed to allow striking it before the missile had already struck the original target (or ran out of fuel). In this Syria case in particular, they'd want to make sure that it wasn't a Russian radar, or a radar possibly manned by Russians, or with Russians in the vicinity, before they'd authorize a strike against it.

I suppose in a real balls-to-the-wall all-out war, the re-targeting capability might be used.

Last edited by HurricaneDitka; 04-16-2018 at 05:52 PM.
  #36  
Old 04-16-2018, 05:54 PM
carnivorousplant carnivorousplant is offline
KB not found. Press any key
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Central Arkansas
Posts: 57,134
Quote:
Originally Posted by HurricaneDitka View Post

I suppose in a real balls-to-the-wall all-out war, the re-targeting capability might be used.
I see your point. The bad guys could put their radar on the roof of a school building.
  #37  
Old 04-17-2018, 09:33 AM
gnoitall gnoitall is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 5,929
Quote:
Originally Posted by carnivorousplant View Post
I see your point. The bad guys could put their radar on the roof of a school building.
And, worse yet, staff it with Russian military personnel.

It's cynical, but I suspect the calculus of the current mission would be more troubled about killing one Russian enlisted technician than blowing up a schoolhouse full of Syrian children.

So, no, there would be no pop-up targeting. We gave them several days of advance notice so that the Russians could amble to safety. I don't think we were going to ruin that by taking snapshots at opportunity targets.

Last edited by gnoitall; 04-17-2018 at 09:34 AM.
  #38  
Old 04-17-2018, 09:49 AM
Jasmine's Avatar
Jasmine Jasmine is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: Chicagoland
Posts: 1,301
We don't have a lot of "old" stuff around because that is the equipment we sell to other countries. Last I read, the United States is still the biggest arms dealer in the world.
__________________
"The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance -- it is the illusion of knowledge."
--Daniel J Boorstin
  #39  
Old 04-17-2018, 10:10 AM
HurricaneDitka HurricaneDitka is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 10,993
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jasmine View Post
We don't have a lot of "old" stuff around because that is the equipment we sell to other countries. Last I read, the United States is still the biggest arms dealer in the world.
Yup, Lockheed Martin alone has sold more than the second-biggest country (Russia) in recent years, probably thanks to the F-35 program. It doesn't take a lot of sales when you're selling jets for ~$100M a piece.
  #40  
Old 04-17-2018, 11:06 AM
Stranger On A Train Stranger On A Train is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Manor Farm
Posts: 18,688
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jasmine View Post
We don't have a lot of "old" stuff around because that is the equipment we sell to other countries. Last I read, the United States is still the biggest arms dealer in the world.
Military weapons and equipment that are sold to other nations such as Saudi Arabia is typically new production or manufacturer refitted equipment, which is often necessary in order to both meet ITAR restrictions and to operate within the purchasing nation’s miltary infrastructure. The United States does sometimes gift surplus weapons and materiel to allies or third parties after it has been obsoleted but this is generally done with poorer nations such as Iraq or Afghanistan which cannot afford to purchase modern weapons systems so as not to undercut potential new weapons sales by military contractors. It should be understood that a good portion of the profits from the sale of complex systems such as Patriot Advanced Capability (PAC) or the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter are the maintenance and upgrade contracts which can provide sustaining income for decades and eclipse the original purchase cost.

The US military does, in fact, have a lot of “‘old’ stuff” in its inventory; weapon systems which are still functional but obsolescent are often transferred to Reserve and National Guard units, used as targets for testing, or just stored at substanial expense to the taxpayer. Some systems, such as the B-52 and B-1B strategic bombers or the LGM-30G ‘Minuteman III’ ICBM, go through periodic technology upgrades and aging surveillance to improve capability and assure reliability. Many of the critical strategic and major tactical systems the the US uses are getting quite long in the tooth as development cycles get longer and experience more delays and cost growth; the F-35 was supposed to replace the F-16, F/A-18, AV-8B, and A-10 but because of production delays and cutbacks due to cost growth (as well as numerous reliability and safety problems with the F-35 despite being declared operational), all of these planes are still intended to be flying in service for the foreseeable future.

As for the recent strikes, the efficacy at eliminating the Assad regime’s capability to produce or acquire chemical weapons is unclear, but it is apparent that by attacking Syria directly the United States has engendered support from within Syria for Assad by supporters who view foreign intervention as an attempt to impose Western control over the region, which given recent history is not exactly a baseless notion. Even if the US and allies can manage to depose Assad, there is the question of what will come afterward; Syria has been in the grip of a multifaceted civil war and intrusion by radical Islamic elements from Iraq, and leaving the country without leadership will almost certainly result in a resurgence of ISIS activity that could threaten other nations in the region. The potential for a confrontation with Russia, while not inconsequential, is of less eventual concern than the growth of radical elements and the authoritarian regimes which have cropped up ostensibly in order to contain it. While there isn’t a clear way to deal effectively with this problem, a few air and missile strikes is not going to measurably improve the situation and without some kind of strategy for follow-through does not inidicate any long term thinking of the eventual consequences.

But hey, Amercia, fuck yeah! What about Russian election meddling again? We ain’t got time for that.

Stranger
  #41  
Old 04-17-2018, 11:22 AM
HurricaneDitka HurricaneDitka is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 10,993
I just learned this morning that these strikes were also the combat debut of the Virginia-class SSN.
  #42  
Old 04-17-2018, 11:32 AM
Velocity Velocity is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2014
Posts: 12,345
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jasmine View Post
We don't have a lot of "old" stuff around because that is the equipment we sell to other countries. Last I read, the United States is still the biggest arms dealer in the world.
As Stranger said, it depends. More often than not, when an ally nation gets an arms sale from the US, it is weaponry that is brand new, not manufactured until after the order has been placed and approved. After all, one big purpose for arms sales is that they keep employment going at production lines in America. Taiwan's F-16s, most of Japan's F-35s, etc. were or will be manufactured in America only after the orders were/are confirmed.
  #43  
Old 04-17-2018, 12:06 PM
Corry El Corry El is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 3,116
Quote:
Originally Posted by HurricaneDitka View Post
While this is probably technically feasible, I doubt it would happen in most cases for policy reasons....
I suppose in a real balls-to-the-wall all-out war, the re-targeting capability might be used.
Yeah, no way there was any improvising on US/coalition side especially v air defense assets which could potentially have been Russian manned. Same reason I'd dismiss any speculation about hard kill Suppression of Enemy Air Defense support (by HARM firing tactical a/c) for the operation that just wasn't announced. And for intel purposes it would also be questionable to use any advanced ECM or cyber capabilities not already well known to the Russians, likewise any black program SEAD drones already operational, none are per open source info. Just because somebody says they downed 71 missiles doesn't make it remotely plausible, doesn't make 'the truth somewhere in the middle' of that and zero, or even make it worthwhile potentially compromising strike support methods which aren't actually needed for the missiles to get through in this particular circumstance.

I wonder if even the Syrians really seriously attempted to react to the raid v just lofting some older SAM's ballistic/self-destruct to set up some fig leaf for a propaganda story about 'blunting' the attack. Say even modern point defense gun/SAM systems like Pantsir were parked on the grounds or hilltops near around the big complex most of the missiles struck. It's still adjacent to a populated area (check out Google Maps), a regime controlled area presumably so the regime would care about sending SAM's or 30mm rounds into the houses, and tricky to set up self destruct of the missiles and cannon shells to completely avoid that shooting at low altitude targets in hilly terrain. And there probably wouldn't be time or necessarily well organized set up to get people to air raid shelters (a big reason for civilians to go to them even in the pre-precision guided era was safety from their side's AA defenses). And it's probably not realistic in any case to hope to shoot down most of dozens of missiles missiles arriving almost at once. So you could argue, why even bother? Just keep key people, and try to move key equipment, out of those buildings in the several days warning given.
  #44  
Old 04-17-2018, 12:12 PM
HurricaneDitka HurricaneDitka is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 10,993
Quote:
Originally Posted by Corry El View Post
... and try to move key equipment, out of those buildings in the several days warning given.
That's got to be just about the shittiest job on the planet: see that equipment we use to make sarin gas? We want you to move it down the stairs, load it up on a truck, drive it across town, and set it up again at our new location. Hurry up, because cruise missiles are going to be destroying this building anytime now. Oh, and wear gloves.
  #45  
Old 04-17-2018, 12:53 PM
Sailboat's Avatar
Sailboat Sailboat is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 11,682
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stranger On A Train View Post
It should be understood that a good portion of the profits from the sale of complex systems such as Patriot Advanced Capability (PAC) or the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter are the maintenance and upgrade contracts which can provide sustaining income for decades and eclipse the original purchase cost.
NEVER buy the extended warranty package!

Quote:
Originally Posted by HurricaneDitka View Post
That's got to be just about the shittiest job on the planet: see that equipment we use to make sarin gas? We want you to move it down the stairs, load it up on a truck, drive it across town, and set it up again at our new location. Hurry up, because cruise missiles are going to be destroying this building anytime now. Oh, and wear gloves.
There's one that's worse:

Mexican Sewer Diver
  #46  
Old 04-17-2018, 12:54 PM
Stranger On A Train Stranger On A Train is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Manor Farm
Posts: 18,688
Quote:
Originally Posted by HurricaneDitka View Post
That's got to be just about the shittiest job on the planet: see that equipment we use to make sarin gas? We want you to move it down the stairs, load it up on a truck, drive it across town, and set it up again at our new location. Hurry up, because cruise missiles are going to be destroying this building anytime now. Oh, and wear gloves.
It’s not that hard. The equipment needed to produce phosgene or sarin is just normal chemical processing equipment that can be easily broken down and cleaned, and the chemical precursors are readily available on the open market, which the Russians could easily provide to them. Even if they had to abandon facilities and set up new ones the costs are not great; what is crucial is the process and the people experienced enough to follow it correctly. And while they only had a few days notice, they’ve had weeks previous knowing that strikes were possible. At most, this probably interfered with their production schedule. However, it is also engendered internal support for Assad and international conflict on the UN Security Council, none of which is actually favorable to what should be our long term goals of reducing the influence of fundamentalist Islam, encouraging stability in the region, and eventual soft removal of the Assad regime with a coalition that has some chance of maintaining order and garnering popular support. Even if that were possible before (and due to the mishandling of this situation by this administration and the last one, it probably wasn’t), it is fucked in a cocked hat now.

Stranger
  #47  
Old 04-17-2018, 12:57 PM
HurricaneDitka HurricaneDitka is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 10,993
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stranger On A Train View Post
... At most, this probably interfered with their production schedule. However, it is also engendered internal support for Assad and international conflict on the UN Security Council, none of which is actually favorable to what should be our long term goals of reducing the influence of fundamentalist Islam, encouraging stability in the region, and eventual soft removal of the Assad regime with a coalition that has some chance of maintaining order and garnering popular support. Even if that were possible before (and due to the mishandling of this situation by this administration and the last one, it probably wasn’t), it is fucked in a cocked hat now.

Stranger
I'm now curious: if you'd been elected in November 2016 and sworn into office in January 2017 instead of Trump, how would you have handled the situation? What would you have done / not done?
  #48  
Old 04-17-2018, 01:52 PM
Stranger On A Train Stranger On A Train is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Manor Farm
Posts: 18,688
Quote:
Originally Posted by HurricaneDitka View Post
I'm now curious: if you'd been elected in November 2016 and sworn into office in January 2017 instead of Trump, how would you have handled the situation? What would you have done / not done?
I would not have launched air strikes unilaterally and without Congressional approval, and such strikes have clearly not diminished the Assad regime’s capability or willingness to use chemical weapons. Nor would I have reflexively blocked Syrian refugees, most of whom are children, from entering the US.

As for what should be done I don’t think there are any simple answers to this. Unlike many the self-made problems of this administration, this one pre-existed the election, and in its modern incarnation goes back to the decision to invade Iraq and overthrow the Ba’ath Party regime there without a clear plan for followup, which created both the power vacuum and even more regional hatred for the United States. The Obama Administration didn’t fare much better in the region, and State Department policy toward the North African and Arab states fostered the events of the so-called “Arab Spring” and subsequent blowback. I think Assad’s increasing authoritarianism, even prior to the beginning of the Syrian Civil War, was an attempt to control extremist influences which threatened to destabilize the country which was regarded as an internal problem even though many of those elements were financed and trained by external sources, and the regime turned to Russia as its long-time sponsor, receiving support that Putin was only too happy to offer as a global-scale troll of the West.

So I don’t think there is any good way to handle this other than to provide assistance to refugees fleeing the violence and persecution by both their government and radical fundamentalists, and to avoid inflaming the war further and turning it into a proxy for international conflict. However, by eschewing and attempting to ban refugees and making pointless and ineffectual air strikes, Trump has managed to find just about the worst possible of all options.

Stranger
  #49  
Old 04-17-2018, 01:54 PM
AK84 AK84 is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 15,455
Quote:
Originally Posted by Corry El View Post

I wonder if even the Syrians really seriously attempted to react to the raid v just lofting some older SAM's ballistic/self-destruct to set up some fig leaf for a propaganda story about 'blunting' the attack. Say even modern point defense gun/SAM systems like Pantsir were parked on the grounds or hilltops near around the big complex most of the missiles struck. It's still adjacent to a populated area (check out Google Maps), a regime controlled area presumably so the regime would care about sending SAM's or 30mm rounds into the houses, and tricky to set up self destruct of the missiles and cannon shells to completely avoid that shooting at low altitude targets in hilly terrain. And there probably wouldn't be time or necessarily well organized set up to get people to air raid shelters (a big reason for civilians to go to them even in the pre-precision guided era was safety from their side's AA defenses). And it's probably not realistic in any case to hope to shoot down most of dozens of missiles missiles arriving almost at once. So you could argue, why even bother? Just keep key people, and try to move key equipment, out of those buildings in the several days warning given.
I asked a guy who used to be in Army Air Defence about the Syrian claims. He said that considering the fact that the NATO planes and vessels launched the weapons at extreme range, that the targets were fairly obvious and the fact that they no doubt had several hours warning, he'd be surprised if the Syrians didn't successfully shoot down a few of the missiles, though he thinks 7 rather than 71 is a more likely figure.

He did say that he can't be sure of the quality of Syrian training. Besides defections since 2011, the exigencies of war would very likely mean that AD troops got less training as the Army would concentrate on fighting an enemy without any airpower whatsoever, also he says that AD troops are typically the first place HQ raids to get riflemen when shortages occur. I'll admit that had not crossed my mind.
  #50  
Old 04-17-2018, 02:00 PM
AK84 AK84 is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 15,455
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stranger On A Train View Post

So I don’t think there is any good way to handle this other than to provide assistance to refugees fleeing the violence and persecution by both their government and radical fundamentalists, and to avoid inflaming the war further and turning it into a proxy for international conflict. However, by eschewing and attempting to ban refugees and making pointless and ineffectual air strikes, Trump has managed to find just about the worst possible of all options.

Stranger
Well he could have decided to launch Operation Syrian Freedom.

Last edited by AK84; 04-17-2018 at 02:01 PM.
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 04:53 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@straightdope.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright © 2018 STM Reader, LLC.

 
Copyright © 2017