All posts in “Air Warfare”

The Sinking of the INS EILAT: 50th Anniversary of the First Surface to Surface Engagement with ASCM’s

The following is an extract of a larger work I am preparing on fifty years of ASCM combat use and hopefully will be available in the coming year. – SJS

Forces – Israel. The INS EILAT (K40) was originally commissioned in 1944 as the HMS ZEALOUS, a Z-class destroyer that saw extensive action as convoy escort on the Murmansk run. After the war, the ZEALOUS was one of two destroyers sold to the Israelis in 1955, along with two to the Egyptians. Renamed after the Israeli port city on the Red Sea, the EILAT was slightly smaller than a typical Oliver Hazard Perry-class (FFG-7) with a length of 362 feet, and a 35-foot beam, displacing 2,530 tons; EILAT was equipped with torpedoes, 4.5 inch and 40 mm guns. During the 1956 Suez Crisis, the EILAT led the chase and capture of an Egyptian destroyer that had shelled Haifa (which prize the Israelis immediately put into service as the INS HAIFA). In July 1967, the EILAT along with two MTBs encountered two Egyptian torpedo boats during one of her patrols off the northern Sinai shore. Giving chase, EILAT eventually sank both boats with the loss of all hands – but the chase took them into Egyptian waters. While celebrated in Israel, it was roundly condemned in Egypt, which began planning a suitable response.   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Forces – Egypt. In the wake of the losses from the 1956 Suez Crisis, Egypt sought a different path to countering the Israeli Navy. The Project 183R KOMAR (Russian: Mosquito) was a derivation of the Project 183 MTB with roots in WWII and combined the MTB’s speed (38 kts) with the range and lethality of the P-20 Termit (21nm) for a lethal punch against larger targets. The net result was a force of small, fast missile boats that could punch well above their class against larger, heavier and presumably more capable ships, like the destroyers that were the showcase of the Israeli navy. The Komar’s had survived the Six Day war and staging out of Port Said on the Mediterranean, would provide the basis for the Egyptian retaliatory action against the EILAT. (U) The Engagement. By 21 October 1967, the EILAT had been underway for 10 days off the northern Sinai coast. With a crew of 197, down from the typical 245, it was viewed as just another routine patrol. Unbeknownst to the crew, as the EILAT reached the western most point on her patrol, just off Port Said, they had been tracked for most of the day – first by an Egyptian helicopter that morning, and then continuously by shore radar stations for the rest of the day. EILAT was equipped with ESM – the Bat Kol system, but it was such a manually intensive system that to use it required significant operator knowledge and practice to effectively employ just in peacetime operations1 . One of the biggest issues was the need to manually correlate signals information with published manuals to ascertain threats. Indicative of the degree of effort and knowledge required, the captain of the EILAT noted in an article published in 20082 that he spent considerable time himself on the set trying to understand the threat environment.

Late in the afternoon of 21 October, as EILAT reached her western-most turning point, the weather was exceptionally clear, seas and wind calm. In fact, the skyline of Port Said was clearly visible to the crew of the EILAT as they prepared to turn back to the east. At this same time, two Komar PTGs were underway from the inner harbor, bound for a point abreast the breakwater. Using the information fed from the shore facilities over the course of the day plus knowledge gained over weeks of observing the Israeli’s unchanging patrol patterns, the Egyptian crews almost immediately acquired EILAT on their MR-331 Rangout radars. Fire control solutions were completed and two P-20 Termit missiles were launched, one from each Komar. At 1716L the lookouts on EILAT reported a flare and smoke from the mouth of the harbor at Port Said. Initially mistaking the report as a rocket launch to the beach3 and an alert was not sounded, but in short order that changed. Battle stations were called away and evasive maneuvering ordered. The first missile was spotted and appeared that it might miss well behind until at six miles when it suddenly turned inbound, headed directly for the ship. Air defense fire was ineffective and the missile struck the stern of the EILAT. At 1728L a distress call was sent and shortly afterwards the second missile struck amidships. Unable to maneuver, listing and on fire the crew tried in vain to fight fires and flooding. This went on for two hours until at 1945L when a third missile struck, igniting the magazines and triggering a series of explosions. The decision was made to abandon ship and 15 minutes after the third hit, EILAT sank. A fourth missile struck the water where the EILAT had previously been, spraying survivors with shrapnel and burning fuel. Rescue forces arrived on the scene well over two hours after the initial distress call. The Egyptians did not interfere with the rescue and recovery efforts. Of the 199 onboard, 47 were KIA and another 100 WIA and 16 MIA. The next day Israeli forces struck Egyptian oil production and storage facilities in and around Port Said, destroying over 80 percent in the attacks.

The sinking of the EILAT was the first engagement and sinking of a warship by another using ASCMs – and it certainly ignited attention around the globe, especially with other navies. It demonstrated to the world that small coastal navy patrol boats equipped with missiles had the firepower to destroy a capital ship. The IDF conducted two investigations into the sinking, one of which remains classified today. However, information from the first investigation plus memoirs published since the sinking offer the following observations.

  • Intelligence Failures. There is reporting that Israeli military intelligence was aware of Egyptian plans to conduct some kind of attack. Communications intercepts pointed to some kind of Egyptian action. The report of the helicopter spotting EILAT and a general alert declared along the Egyptian coastline was intercepted early on the 21st. More important though, were two later reports that alerted artillery units in the Port Said area and a fourth intercept that specifically forbade launching of missiles from the harbor area but gave clearance outside the harbor by the breakwater. None of these reports reached EILAT.
  • Operational Complacency. By the time of EILAT’s 11 October patrol, the Egyptians (and their Soviet advisers) were well aware of the presence and operational patterns of the Israeli navy. Israeli navy leaders opted to continue to use the large destroyers for presence patrols near the Egyptian coastline and well within sight of Port Said because of the visual signal it sent, rather than consider the tactical utility gained from smaller craft operating that close to shore. The operational and command climate onboard EILAT to a degree mirrored this operational complacency with no variation in patrol patterns and a decision to leave a large number of the crew ashore. Training and equipment deficiencies exposed in the July engagement with Egyptian torpedo boats were evidently left open. Among these were threat recognition, tactical awareness and difficulty with the ammo for the main battery guns, forcing the ship to close range and engage and sink the torpedo boats with 40mm.
  • ESM. As noted, though installed, the Bat Kol was a manpower intensive piece of gear that offered questionable tactical awareness of threats and threat platforms. The CO, who spent a considerable part of his career in the EW field and was a principle in the development of the Bat Kol, himself was frequently frustrated in trying to apply information from the equipment to the dense EW environment around the ship. There is no indication the Bat Kol was either manned or information from it used to assess the threat to EILAT during the day on the 21st, much less during the missile engagement. That the Egyptians operated all their equipment with no consideration for the possibility of counter-detection by the Israelis speaks volumes about the level of understanding about counter-targeting and EW at this time in both navies.
  • Engagement and Countermeasures. Conditions were ideal for the shooters – and the defenders, from weather to targeting information that enabled the engagement. There were no countermeasures expended by the EILAT, as none were onboard save gunfire that was initiated too late and with no radar direction to do any good. This included the puzzling lack of any form of chaff rockets, for it wasn’t as if this was a new concept to the Israelis. Indeed, one of their destroyers had used it as a means of seduction to draw attention away from an operation during the Six Day War. Even still, with the evasive maneuvering the first missile almost missed – the sudden turn at 6nm indicates the onboard seeker acquired the EILAT, but even if that had missed, the strike by the second missile was the mortal blow as it rendered the ship without power and caused massive damage amidships. The third missile administered the coup d’grace. The large HE warhead combined with reserved fuel after a less than maximum range shot contributed to the extensive damage suffered by EILAT.

Clearly the existence of the missile boats and their payload was known to Israel, but given the recent experience with the Egyptian military, the feasibility of the threat to significantly damage Israeli forces was downplayed. Whether the COMINT intercepts earlier on the 21st would have changed EILAT’s posture remains unanswered given this acknowledgement of Egyptian capabilities as represented by the continuation of the patrols. The sinking did have a profound impact on the Israeli Navy in that it accelerated procurement of small, fast missile-equipped boats armed with an indigenously designed missile, and re-doubled effort in electronic countermeasures. Egypt’s success prompted many nations to re-examine their approach to configuration of their navies and many undertook to add ASCMs arming smaller ships to their inventory. The fruits of this effort would be seen four years later, but in another region altogether as India and Pakistan came to blows in the Indo-Pakistani War of December 1971.

 


1On this patrol, the lead operator of the Bat Kol had been left on the beach to attend a two-week school during this at sea period.

2Melman, Yossi. “The Destroyer’s Last Mission,” Haaretz (online) http://www.haaretz.com/the-destroyer-s-last-secret-1.152605

3The so-called “War of Attrition” was low order conflict after the Six Day War in 1967, focused between Egyptian and Israeli forces in and around the vicinity of the Suez Canal. Consisting of artillery and mortar exchanges at the unit level, it was generally low order combat and likely factored into the initial assessment of the Komar launches by the EILAT’s crew. (Source: Mommsen, Klaus. 60 Years Israel Navy, Bonn: Bernard & Gaefe. (2009 German edition, 2011, English)

 

 

 

Flightdeck Friday — #ww2flyover

 

Special day today in the DMV — 50 aircraft representing all theaters of operation and Services were gathered of a flyover in observation of the 70th Anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany (VE-Day) and the defeat that followed later that summer for Japan.  YHS chose to watch the big wings (figure that) muster and launch from Manassas Regional Airport  others like Pinch took to the Mall for the flyover.  Special day for the observers – even more so for those WW2 vets who were along for the ride in the WW2 warbirds for the flyover.

#respect

C-SPAN carried the full 45 minute event.

Our own view of the CAF’s B-29, Fifi, launching for the flight:

And a nice compilation by the local CBS affiliate:

World War II aircraft flew above the National Mall as part of the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the end to World War II. http://on.wusa9.com/1IVNKHW

Posted by WUSA 9 on Friday, May 8, 2015

 

FLIGHTDECK FRIDAY RED STAR EDITION (КРАСНАЯ ЗВЕЗДА ИЗДАНИЕ) – THE TU-22 BLINDER & TU-22M BACKFIRE Part 2

Slide1

 

Part 1

1958

1958 was a year of ups and downs. The world’s first satellite launched in October 1957, Sputnik, came crashing to earth with the New Year. The Cold War gets ever hotter as nuclear tests continue (35 by theSoviets alone) and the means for delivery become faster and more complex. Across the Atlantic two signatory events take place – the laying of the keel for the world’s first nuclear aircraft carrier, the ENTERPRISE, is performed in the graving dock at Newport News, VA and half a continent west, the F4H-1 Phantom takes to the sky for the first time.

protoype_tu22

Back in Russia, gleaming silver, needle nosed prototype, obviously built for speed also begins preparations for its first flight. Samolet 105, the most complex design ever undertaken by Tupolev has been ready since December 1957 for its first flight – with the exception of its engines. The powerful (for their day) NK6 engines, unconventionally housed at the base of the vertical stabilizer[1] were still in their design phase, so lesser engines would power the prototype. Even as this prototype was being readied for flight, another improved one was in production. For Tupolev, it was perhaps fortunate that newer prototype was next in line. The changes it promised, or at least were hoped for, would be needed, as it was apparent from the first flight that speed was disappointingly below expectations.

Untitled

In the late 1950s, a bomber that was a sluggard would be a dead duck. “Speed is Life,” meant much to Soviet bombers in the late 1950’s. Across the Arctic ice cap, the US was building an extensive radar network that would support the surface-to-air missiles of the Nike family and family of interceptors led by the likes of the F-101 Voodoo, F-102 Delta Dagger, F-104 Starfighter and in the coming year, the F-106 Delta Dart, fast interceptors carrying missiles that packed a nuclear punch. For their part, the Americans were busy working out the bugs with their own Mach 2 supersonic bomber, the B-58 Hustler which had first flown in 1956. But more important to the leadership at Tupolev was the fact that Nikita Khrushchev, First Secretary of the Communist Party and Chairman of the Council of Ministers, was openly dismissive of the future of manned bombers, preferring instead ballistic missiles for their much shorter flight time and invulnerability to intercept. Continued failure would take the vaunted Tupolev name and industry and leave it relegated to fighting for transport and other aeronautical scraps with Myasishchev who had failed so spectacularly with the Mya-4 (despite what the Western analysts first thought). And so something had to be done.

Tu-22B Blinder

Tu-22B Blinder

Recent wind tunnel work was revealing the precepts behind “Area rule,” the design property that gave a supersonic aircraft a wasp-waisted or “coke bottle” mid-section that reduced drag at transonic speeds.   Discovered by NACA engineer Roger Whitcomb, it is a concept widely attributed to saving the F-102 from obscurity. Area rule was applied to the Samolet 105A. Taking flight a little over a year after the -105 prototype, the physical differences between the two were readily apparent, from the cockpit to the wing and landing gear. If it seems to the reader that there was a significant amount of “reinventing the wheel” going on here – you would be correct. A major issue affecting the progress of design at Tupolev (and others) was lack of access to data being collected in other design bureaus and by the military – there was no mechanism for sharing and indeed, the OKB[2] culture was steeped in secrecy with not so much the West in mind as other OKB. So it should come as no surprise that the 105A prototype crashed on only its seventh flight due to control flutter.[3] This was a harbinger of a variety of issues that plagued the Tu-22 program. The edge of known science and engineering practice was being expanded and like programs in other countries failures were happening in unexpected areas. Not long after the control flutter loss, another was lost this time due to an engine oil line that failed. Improvements were made in line with production – the most notable being a pitch-damping feature that sought to limit wing twisting. As the outer edges of the by now named Tu-22[4], it became clear limits would have to be imposed. By far one of the most serious was aileron reversal at high Mach, so a decision was made to limit the Tu-22 to Mach 1.4. For all that, there were no attempts to address one of the most egregious features, the downward ejecting seats for the crew of three. Clearly many crew were lost because of this design, but in the quest for the holy grail of speed, the cockpit was made impossibly narrow (also affecting pilot visibility straight out the nose) and the only way to exit the aircraft was through the underside. With many of the aircraft loses coming in the landing phase of flight, it should come as no surprise that the Tu-22 soon came to have a poor reputation with aircrew to match that held by maintenance crews. In all, the Tu-22 suffered about the same number of losses as the American B-58. The difference though, came with the loss per flight hour, which was substantially greater for the Tu-22 than the B-58 because the latter enter operational service earlier and enjoyed more flight time.

 Operational Service

Tu-22 Blinder C

Tu-22 Blinder C

Service entry by the Tu-22 was marked by its appearance at the 1961 Aviation Day flyover of Moscow. The Soviet Air Force intended for dual production of two versions – the Tu-22B that was armed with freefall bombs, and the Tu-22R reconnaissance aircraft with an initial batch of 42 aircraft to be procured for 1961. In truth, production was far short of that. The Tu-22B continued to be plagued by a variety of problems and were used initially for training, finally reaching an operational regiment by Sep 1963. The Tu-22R (Blinder C in NATO’s naming methodology) followed with cameras located in the bomb bay and nose of the aircraft. These were the first Tu-22s to be accepted into naval service and naval variants numbered 80 of the 311 Tu-22R produced. The value of a fast recce aircraft for naval service is highlighted in an article published in the Naval War College Review (Winter 2014) by LCDR Maksim Tokarev. Provocatively titled Kamikazes: The Soviet Legacy LCDR Tokarev wrote that a special reconnaissance-attack group (razvedyvatel’no-udarnaya gruppa, or RUG) would be detached from the MRA[5] division formation and consists of a pair of reconnaissance bombers with a squadron of missile-equipped bombers. The recce aircraft flew low and fat to avoid ship’s radar while the others launched their ASCMs at range (even without proper targeting) to draw off the AEW and fighter protection. Presumably undetected, the two recce aircraft flew to the center of the formation and marked on top the carrier with their only task being to send the exact position via radio before being vaporized. Small numbers when losses of up to 50% of a full strike – the equivalent of an entire MRA air regiment were expected to be lost. The reality of such a CONOPS required the design and integration of a supporting missile with the Tu-22, something that wasn’t envisioned with the original aircraft. The advent of the X-32 (Kh-22 is Westernized) missile complex would change this and provide a hint of the future.

Next week: Blinders in the Kitchen, Backfires on the Horizon.

Blinder02JRMod

__________

[1] Much was still being revealed about flight in the transonic and supersonic regimes at the time of the initial design of the Tu-22 prototype. Early work indicated the aircraft would pitch up around Mach 1 – a characteristic attributed to the swept wings and tai of the aircraft, hence podded engines at the base of the vertical fin was thought to reduce this tendency. Little thought was given to the maintenance implications as crews later hated to work on the aircraft for the very fact of the engine location.

[2] “Опытное конструкторское бюро” – Opytnoye Konstruktorskoye Buro, meaning Experimental Design Bureau. During the Soviet era, OKBs were closed institutions working on design and prototyping of advanced technology, usually for military applications

 

[3] Structures exposed to aerodynamic forces — including wings and aerofoils, but also chimneys and bridges — are designed carefully within known parameters to avoid flutter. In complex structures where both the aerodynamics and the mechanical properties of the structure are not fully understood, flutter can be discounted only through detailed testing. Even changing the mass distribution of an aircraft or the stiffness of one component can induce flutter in an apparently unrelated aerodynamic component. At its mildest this can appear as a “buzz” in the aircraft structure, but at its most violent it can develop uncontrollably with great speed and cause serious damage to or lead to the destruction of the aircraft

 

[4] It’s unofficial nickname among the crews was “Shilo” (шило) – the Russian word for “awl” due to its resemblance with the tool when viewed from above

[5] MRA: Morskaya Raketonosnaya Aviatsiya – Naval Guided-Missile Aviation

“Air Raid Pearl Harbor. This is Not A Drill.” *

* Telegraph from Patrol Wing Two Headquarters warning of the attack on Pearl Harbor

Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, Members of the Senate, and of the House of Representatives:

RT216

Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

(More)

2014 Hawkeye-Greyhound Symposium POSTEX

 

50yrs1-e1402447129923 Did you miss the Symposium this year?  Fear not – all you would like to know may be found over at the Hawkeye-Greyhound Association’s site – pics, briefs, and a summary.  Just head over here

IMG_2123

 

U.S. Navy Awards E-2D Aircraft Contract

Using the E-2C Hawkeye 2000 configuration as a baseline, the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye will provide advance warning of approaching enemy surface units, cruise missiles and aircraft, to vector interceptors or strike aircraft to attack, as well as provide area surveillance, communications relay, search and rescue coordination and air traffic control. The use of the new glass cockpit and tactical fourth operator display allows the five-person crew more flexibility in fulfilling these diverse missions.

Using the E-2C Hawkeye 2000 configuration as a baseline, the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye will provide advance warning of approaching enemy surface units, cruise missiles and aircraft, to vector interceptors or strike aircraft to attack, as well as provide area surveillance, communications relay, search and rescue coordination and air traffic control. The use of the new glass cockpit and tactical fourth operator display allows the five-person crew more flexibility in fulfilling these diverse missions.

NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. — In a decision that will save the federal government about $369 million,  Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) awarded a $3.643 billion multi-year procurement contract to Northrop Grumman Corp. on June 30 for 25 E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft.

The five-year contract covers the purchase of full-rate production (FRP) E-2D aircraft, Lots two through six, during fiscal 2014 through fiscal 2018.

“The multi-year contract award increases the affordability of the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye, achieving the best price with taxpayer dollars,” said Capt. John Lemmon, E-2/C-2 Airborne Tactical Data System Program Office(PMA-231) program manager. “PMA-231 is committed to providing the warfighter with this interoperable weapon system. The program office’s unified mission focus and expertise will enable the E-2D aircraft to meet initial operational capability (IOC) at the start of next fiscal year.”

More here.

Flightdeck Friday – Bonus Edition: “RAVEN ONE” by Kevin Miller

81UW5+-QwTL._SL1500_A good friend, fellow scribe and most importantly, a shipmate of the very best kind, CAPT Kevin Miller, USN-Ret. has just published his first novel, Raven One as an ebook with Kindle Books.  Hozer was an F/A-18 driver and served penance with me on the Navy Staff many passings of the Moon ago.  Over time we’ve gone back and forth over whether it was worth the effort to flesh-out the stories he was putting together into a skeleton novel and go through the grinding editing and marketing process to get published.  It is therefore that with a firmly penned OK that recommend this book to tailhookers and shorebound alike.  A quick bit about the book itself from it’s spot on Amazon:

Lieutenant Commander Jim Wilson, a fighter pilot aboard the carrier USS Valley Forge, is weary of combat over the skies of Iraq. He has been there many times since the late 90s, but now, as each passing minute draws him once again closer to combat, various other conflicts also complicate his life. His executive officer Commander “Saint” Patrick becomes unreasonably overbearing; his wife Mary, fed-up with their long separations, applies pressure for him to resign from the Navy; junior officers test his leadership skills as they act in unpredictable ways; and the raging sea outside serves as the only thing that separates him from events that will change forever his life and career. Imminent combat with the inhospitable and hostile countries over the horizon is the only constant he can depend on. 

Raven One places you with Wilson in the cockpit of a carrier-based FA-18 Hornet…and in the ready rooms and bunkrooms of men and women who struggle with their fears and uncertainty in this new way of war. They must all survive a deployment that takes a sudden and unexpected turn when Washington orders Valley Forge to respond to a crisis no one saw coming. The world watches – and holds its breath. 

Retired Navy Captain Kevin Miller fills his novel with flying action and adventure – and also examines the actions of imperfect humans as they follow their own agendas in a disciplined world of unrelenting pressure and danger.”

Here’s this link:  Raven One  now go and enjoy.

w/r, SJS