Israel, Iran and the evolving asymmetrical & conventional missile warfare part three of four


Iran’s Hezbollah is presently considerably ahead of any other terrorist organization in the world in terms of the armaments it can deploy, the tactics it uses, and the offensive and defensive technology at its disposal. It may now have obtained Russian Yakhont anti-ship cruise missiles from Syria.  The Yakhont puts any Israeli naval vessel under direct threat, even those docked at Israeli ports. The Yakhont is difficult to defend against, since it can be launched from beyond the horizon, at supersonic speeds and with a range of different possible trajectories. If fired from behind mountain ridges or other geographical obstacles in Lebanon, they could avoid detection from the sea and strike targeted vessels with minimal warning.

Russia delivered seventy-two Yakhont missiles to Syria in December 2011, along with 18 mobile launch vehicles designed to be stationed along the coast, Syrian state news televised the Syrian Navy test-firing the missiles. Putin’s Moscow then followed up in May 2013 with an additional shipment of even more advanced, more accurate, radar-equipped Yakhont missiles. They have a range of about 289 km (180 mi), fly close to the sea at Mach 2 to evade radar, and are usually armed with an armor-piercing or high-explosive warhead. The P-800 Yakhont anti-ship cruise missiles Russia has furnished Syria with are the most advanced anti-ship missiles of the Russia military arsenal.  Syrian smugglers have passed the Yakhont missiles to their Hezbollah allies, component by component as many as 12 missiles may now be in Lebanon. Israeli Rear Adm. Eli Sharvit, commander of the naval base in Haifa, said “We assume that advanced Yakhont missiles have also reached the hands of Hezbollah, and we are preparing for that,” In 2014 Israeli military officials reported the Hezbollah deployed Yakhont in 2013 about a year after the Syrian Navy received the P-800. They said repeated Israeli efforts to block the delivery of the weapon from Syria to Lebanon were partially successful

The supersonic P-800 Yakhont (Gem) is a ramjet version of P-80 Zubr [SS-N-7 Starbright]. The Yakhont missile has a range of 300 kilometers (162 mi), the capacity to carry a 200-kilogram (440lbs) warhead. It is capable of striking Israel’s entire Mediterranean coast. The Yakhont has the unique capability of being able to cruise several meters above the water surface, making it difficult to detect and intercept. It can be launched from a air craft, ship, submarine and coastal-land. The homing head is designed for search and detection of sea-borne and land-based targets in electronic countermeasures environments, for selection of false targets based on data supplied, for acquiring and tracking of a chosen destination, and for preparation and display of target coordinates to the onboard autopilot system of the Yakhont anti-ship cruise missile. The homing head performs the above functions in severe weather in conditions. The firing range reaches 300 km (162 mi.) when traveling along a combined trajectory and 120 kg (265 lb.) when following only a low-altitude trajectory. The P-800 Bolid is the encapsulated, submarine-launched version of Yakhont. The air-launched version of the Yakhont missile has a take-off weight of 2,500 kg (5,507 lb.).

 Affordable and Easily Acquired or Built At one time sophisticated and much longer-range  deadly cruise missiles remained largely the domain of a few industrial states, most notably France, the United States and Russia. However since 2004 cruise missiles have begun to spread across the Middle East, Northeast Asia, and South Asia. The main advantage of cruise missiles is that they are relatively inexpensive, compact, accurate, and easier to develop or access than ballistic missile technology. In 2011 the average, the cost of a single cruise missile was one sixth of a ballistic missile.  There are 130 types of cruise missiles which are distributed among 75 nations’ of which 56 countries are pure importers. Cruise missiles have become an inexpensive form of an air force but with capabilities that even the leading states have come to value. The latest generation cruise missiles such as the Indian BrahMos are supersonic (faster than speed of sound) making defense nearly impossible. Unlike ballistic missiles that follow a predictable upward trajectory, modern cruise missiles can fly hugging the earth at low altitudes to stay below radar’s directional horizon and even hide behind terrain features.  Like aircraft they can approach and attack targets from different directions to overwhelm air defenses

A standard cruise missile can be described as an unmanned, self-propelled, winged, non-recoverable aerial vehicle designed to destroy a surface target. It can be launched from UAVs, aircraft, ships, submarines, or ground-based platforms, fixed or mobile. The popular image of a cruise missile is that of a smart bomb and indeed, with today’s inexpensive sophisticated navigational technology.  Several types of early and mid-generation surface-to-surface and sea-skimming anti-ship cruise missiles, such as the French made Exocet and the Chinese Silkworm has proliferated widely.

 In July 2002 Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld sent a classified memo to the White House in calling attention to the growing cruise missile threat, this warning was disregarded.

2003 Operation Iraqi Freedom: It was the first time American ground forces were attacked by enemy cruise missiles. Saddam’s forces fired five Seersucker cruise missiles weapons that were designed to attack enemy ships, but that the Iraqis used instead against targets on land. While the cruise missile proved to be ineffective, what is troubling is that none of the missiles detected by the US military warning systems and that the American military was powerless to intercept them. In short, not a single one was shot down.  The strike did not result in any allied casualties or slow the preparations to invade Iraq. However, it did highlight an emerging threat that the American military is hard put to defend against low-flying, cruise missiles. American military experts are betting that Iraq's use of cruise missiles was not lost on potential adversaries.

Just after the formal combat of the 2003 Iraq war ended, senior U.S. military officials voiced their concern about the implications of Iraq’s minimal cruise missile attacks. "This was a glimpse of future threats," said Col. Chuck Anderson, the chief of staff for the 32nd Army Air and Missile Defense Command. "It is a poor man's air force. A thinking enemy will use uncommon means such as cruise missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles to fight on multiple fronts."

The Seersucker, the Western code name for the CSSC-3, does seem like an unlikely weapon for attacking ground forces. Designed by the Chinese, it is launched from shore and guided by shore-based radar toward an enemy ship. The Seersucker, which can carry a 1,000-pound warhead, can fly as low as 50 yards to avoid detection by enemy radar. After the missile launched, a guided system steers it to the metal hull of the target ship.

While the CSSC-3 proved to be ineffective, what is troubling is that none of the missiles were detected by the Pentagon’s advanced warning systems. From overhead satellites, spy aircraft, radar and more and that the American military was powerless to detect or intercept them. The Seersucker, the Western code name for the CSSC-3, does seem like an unlikely weapon for attacking ground forces. Designed by the Chinese, it is launched from shore and guided by shore-based radar toward an enemy ship. The Seersucker, which can carry a 453 kg (1,000-lbs.) warhead, can fly as low as 45 meters (50 yards) to avoid detection by enemy radar. After the missile launched, a guided system steers it to the metal hull of the target ship. US forces tried to bomb the launchers but failed to destroy all of them. After the main fighting had ended, several Seersucker launchers were found hidden in warehouses on the Al Faw peninsula.

The next threat level combining Cruise missiles with UAVS : Cruise missiles or UAVs might be launched from a variety of concealed areas at modest distances from their targets. Also UAVs can be brought within range and launched from small ships, freighters or commercial container ships in effect, a "two-stage" form of delivery. Tactical advantages provided by UAVs and cruise missiles over other attack modes are not always in the destructive power that they can carry.  But are in the way they carry that power and the distance from which they allow an adversary to control its delivery. UAVs and cruise missiles strategic and tactical values situations in which their aerial, long-standoff capability solves key operational problems an attacker faces in planning and mounting an operation.

“Virtually every country on Earth will be able to build or acquire drones capable of firing missiles within the next ten years. Other countries such as Iran have shown growing interest in making unmanned robot technology as deadly as possible. “Any country that has weaponized any aircraft will be able to weaponize a UAV,” said Mary Cummings, Duke University professor and former Navy fighter pilot in 2014. Virtually any country, organization or individual could employ low-tech tactics to “weaponize” drones right now. “Not everything is going to be Predator class,” said Singer. “You’ve got a fuzzy line between cruise missiles and drones moving forward. There will be high-end expensive ones and low-end cheaper ones.” The recent use of drone surveillance and even the reported deployment of booby-trapped drones by Hezbollah, Singer said, are examples of do-it-yourself killer UAVs that will permeate the skies in the decade ahead. The biggest technology challenge in drone development also promises the biggest reward in terms cost savings and functionally: full autonomy. “

Every Country Will Have Armed Drones Within 10 Years MAY 6, 2014BY PATRICK TUCKER

In 2014 Hezbollah drones for the first time bombed the headquarters of the terrorist al-Nusra Front at Lebanon's border with Syria, killing and wounding tens of the terrorists. During the operations Hezbollah pounded positions of the radical Syrian rebels on the outskirts of the Northeastern town of Arsal using drones, heavy fire and artillery.

In 2014 US Treasury Undersecretary David Cohen reported, “With disturbing reach far beyond Lebanon, Hezbollah’s extensive procurement networks exploit the international financial system to enhance its military capabilities in Syria and its terrorist activities worldwide,” In a statement on July 10, Cohen said Stars Group purchased electronics and other technology, engines and guidance systems were used in unspecified Hezbollah UAVs, including those flown over Israel and Syria. “Items obtained by Hezbollah using the Stars Group Holding network have directly supported the group’s military capabilities, including the development of unmanned aerial vehicles, which have been used most recently to support Hezbollah’s military activities in Syria and to conduct surveillance operations in Israel,”  “These individuals and entities have relied on false end-user certificates, mislabeled air waybills, and other fraudulent methods to avoid export restrictions and otherwise conceal Hizbullah as the ultimate end-user or beneficiary of these goods,” Cohen said.

US Treasury sanctions designated the owners of Stars Group, Kamel and Issam Ahmaz. The sanctions banned Americans from engaging with the Ahmaz brothers and their company. Another target for sanctions was identified as the alleged Hezbollah liaison with Stars Group, Hanna Khalifeh, also a Lebanese businessman. Treasury Officials said Stars Group procured engine, communications, electronics and navigation from China and the United Arab Emirates. They said Hezbollah also acquired components from Canada, Europe and the United States for UAVs and other projects. More likely than not this advanced UAV technology was funneled into Iran’s UAV production military facilities.   

Developments in Iran‘s ballistic missile program have been prohibited under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1929 since June 2010 (UN Security Council, 2010) 

However in President Obama’s rush to sign a nuclear accord, issues related to the Islamic Republic’s nuclear military dimensions are strangely ignored. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and other Iranian officials have warned Washington, the international community and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) the country’s missile program is among its red lines, saying Tehran will not negotiate over its missile capability. Deputy Commander of the Basij and Defense Culture of Iran’s General Staff of Armed Forces Masoud Jazayeri said that Iran will not allow the US or any other country to interfere with its defense program, Fars news agency reported on Feb. 4. 2015. His remarks followed recent statements by US officials on Iran’s defense and missile programs. “With whatever approach they might come, Iran’s missile program and defense power are not subject to negotiation in foreign circles,” Jazayeri said, asserting that Iran will use its defense power against “bullying” powers whenever necessary.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is more than warranted to loath this gross International negligence and ineptitude concerning Tehran’s nuclear weapons dimensions.  These red lines in reality are the yellow lines of cowardice.  To be continued