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This Week on MIDRATS: “Let’s Talk Missiles” – UPDATED

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Join us for Midrats this Sunday, 22 July 2012 on blogtalk radio, where the topic is missiles – ballistic and cruise; and your humble scribe is the guest.  Seven months into this year and we have seen much on this front.  Pick a theater and you will find ballistic and cruise missiles are at or near the top of the various COCOM’s top 5 concerns.  A report released by DoD a few weeks back states in part:

Iran continues to develop ballistic missiles that can range regional adversaries, Israel, and Eastern Europe, including an extended-range variant of the Shahab-3 and a 2,000-krn medium-range ballistic missile, the Ashura. Beyond steady growth in its missile and rocket inventories, Iran has boosted the lethality and effectiveness of existing systems by improving accuracy and developing new sub-munition payloads. – Annual Report on the Military Strength of Iran

At the same time, Iran has also been working at developing forces and tactics that will be used in an anti-access campaign to close the Strait of Hormuz and threaten regional naval and land forces should it decide to retaliate against growing sanctions over its nuclear program.

In the Pacific, besides the world’s largest and most robust program in developing and deploying a range of ballistic missiles from short- to inter-continental, they are likewise building a range of cruise missiles for land-attack and anti-ship that are both formidable in number and capability:

The PLA is acquiring large numbers of highly accurate, domestically built cruise missiles, and has previously acquired large numbers of Russian ones. These include the domestically produced, ground- launched CJ-10 land-attack cruise missile (LACM); the domestically produced ground- and ship-launched YJ-62 anti-ship cruise missile (ASCM); the Russian SS-N-22/SUNBURN supersonic ASCM, which is fitted on China’s SOVREMENNY-class guided missile destroyers; and the Russian SS-N-27B/SIZZLER supersonic ASCM on China’s Russian-built KILO-class diesel-powered attack submarines. - Annual Report to Congress: Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China, May 2012

If past practice is prologue, we can expect to see domestic variants of the Russian-sourced cruise missiles in the near future (witness the SU-27 v. J-11).  Again, all part of a larger Advanced-A2/AD strategy being put into play as we in turn conduct the “Pacific pivot”.  And need we mention Syria, with its inventory of missiles and extensive chemical weapons arsenal, teetering on the brink of chaos and their  practice of passing missiles to Hezbollah?

Joint ventures of the sort between Russia and India that yielded the BrahMOS ASCM/LACM will increasingly become more common.  And with a world increasingly awash in growing numbers of ballistic and cruise missiles, how long before a non-state actor obtains, and uses, these sophisticated, technical weapons systems?  Oh wait – that’s already happened.  Just ask the Israeli navy

Oh, and did I mention hypersonics too?

Today’s warfighters find themselves in a complex, multi-layered and highly nuanced threat environment – one that parallels the multi-polar world that has emerged in the past two decades.  Successfully operating in this environment will require that we open the aperture on kinetic and non-kinetic solutions and take an integrated approach to air and missile defense.

Just some of the things we’ll be talking about Sunday afternoon.  Why don’t you join us?


UPDATE:
Here’s today’s transcript:

Listen to internet radio with Midrats on Blog Talk Radio

 

P.S.  A little read-ahead if you’d like for background:

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Flightdeck Friday: A BMD Primer

Every now and then I get a chance to reach escape velocity from my day job and do something really fun or different.  Recently that entailed presenting a BMD overview to a couple of classes that were part of the Naval War College’s Non-Resident Seminar program (of which YHS is a graduate).  And like any good presenter these days, one needs a brief – so, ecce:
…actually, I’d planned on part II of the Atlas story, but got re-tasked this week, so – Plan B(MD).
Oh, and yes, I do my own graphics – here’s a sample from Part II of the Atlas story:

Chinese Announce Successful Missile Intercept Test

From China today comes news today of a successful missile intercept test:

“BEIJING (AP) — China announced that its military intercepted a missile in mid-flight Monday in a test of new technology that comes amid heightened tensions over Taiwan and increased willingness by the Asian giant to show off its advanced military capabilities. The official Xinhua News Agency reported late Monday that ”ground-based midcourse missile interception technology” was tested within Chinese territory.  ”The test has achieved the expected objective,” the three-sentence report said. ”The test is defensive in nature and is not targeted at any country.” Monday’s report follows repeated complaints in recent days by Beijing over the sale by the U.S. of weaponry to Taiwan, including PAC-3 air defense missiles. These sales are driven by threats from China to use force to bring the island under its control, backed up by an estimated 1,300 Chinese ballistic missiles positioned along the Taiwan Strait.”

Of course China doesn’t do anything without some express purpose, and to that end we would note that today is the 3rd anniversary of the infamous ASAT test, conducted on 11 January 2007.  Infamous, because of the on-orbit debris field it generated and near universal condemnation it engendered.  So find ourselves three years later and coincident with that date and the announcement by the US of plans to go ahead with the sale of PAC-3 batteries to Taiwan as a (small) partial counter to the hundreds of SRBMs China has deployed.

Interesting times, eh?

E-2D Update: Progress Report and Hawkeye BMD?

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A program update on the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye was provided today at the AEW and Battle Management conference in Amsterdam. Providing the update was Northrop-Grumman’s VP for AEW &BM C2 programs, Jim Culmo and Hawkeye/Greyhound Program Manager, CAPT Shane Gahagan, USN.

Culmo noted that the company is on-track to deliver three pilot production E-2Ds to the U.S. Navy in 2010 and that manufacturing of the first two Low-Rate Initial Production aircraft is also progressing well. “We’re exceedingly pleased with where we are in the flight test program,” said U.S. Navy Capt. Shane Gahagan, Hawkeye Greyhound program manager. “The AN/APY-9 radar is performing very well and will bring to the fleet a significantly increased ability to operate in a highly cluttered environment while providing critical 360-degree coverage.”

The E-2D was designed to provide the warfighter with enhanced capabilities required to meet emerging threats such as low-flying ASCMs in the high clutter near- and overland environment.  With the newly developed AN/APY-9 Electronic Scan Array (ESA) radar, Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) system, Electronic Support Measures (ESM), and off-board sensors, in concert with surface combatants equipped with the Aegis combat system, the E-2D will have the capability to detect, track, and defeat cruise missile threats at extended ranges. It will also provide unparalleled maritime domain awareness including airspace control for manned and unmanned assets, monitoring of surface movements, civil support, and command and control of tactical forces.

The combined radar modes work together to provide continuous, 360-degree air and surface scanning capability, allowing flight operators to focus the radar on select areas of interest. “The AN/APY-9 can ‘see’ smaller targets and more of them at a greater range than currently fielded radar systems,” Culmo said. He added that the E-2D’s systems, including radar long-range detection, “are exceeding key performance specifications.”

Which brings me to a point of interest.  Given the direction MDA is headed in expanding our BMD capabilities at the theater and regional levels by looking at alternative platforms and capabilities – such as ISR assets like UAVs to improve I&W, perhaps it ought to widen the aperture a bit and look at the capabilities the E-2D is bringing to the fight?  One of the hallmarks of missile defense is the wide-ranging field of play within which the threat is engaged.  As such, BMD cannot be platform-centric since we re fast approaching the point where the interceptors will outrange their supporting sensors (when launched from the same platform).  Instead, BMD, especially the sea-based adjunct, will become a complex fire control system made up of netted sensors and shooters.

Now, look again at the quote above – “The combined radar modes work together to provide continuous, 360-degree air and surface scanning capability, allowing flight operators to focus the radar on select areas of interest.”  That is the advantage of an ESA.  The ability to manage the radar energy is literally light years ahead of what we had in the E-2C.  In a theater fight, it makes me wonder what capabilities it might bring for detNorthrop Grummanection of mobile platforms and the launch/boost phase of SR/MRBMs — what capabilities the E-2D’s advanced networking might bring to networking shooters that are BVR of one another and yet not dependent on what are becoming increasingly vulnerable satellite-based networks.

To be sure, the dance card for the Advanced Hawkeye is likely already crowded and on a relative scale, advanced cruise missiles are a greater threat in a larger sense to US and allied naval forces – for now.  Nevertheless, it would pay huge dividends down the road if we found a nascent BMD capability already resident in the system, or, one that could be coaxed forth with relatively smaller expenditures of capital.  The force multiplier effect in combination with sea- and eventually, shore-based Aegis BMD could conceivably pay huge dividends.

How about it MDA?  Navy?

(Source: Northrop Grumman)

Crossposted at USNI blog

Iran’s Successful Space Launch

aleqm5hlgtsf39svsxtns-le7m-b-xarfwComes word over night of an apparently successful attempt by Iran to place a satellite in orbitusing the Safir-2 space launch vehicle (SLV).  The Safir (“Ambassador”) was ingeniously developed as part of Iran’s growing rocket and missile program and has direct links to its attempts to develop extended range missiles in the IRBM and ultimately, ICBM range.  Periodicity of the satellite, named “Omid” (“Hope”) is said to be 14 orbits in every 24-hrs according to IRNA, Iran’s press agency.

 While congratulations are presumably in order for this accomplishment, one must step back and review its implications.  Begin here - as we have previously looked at regional implications of a successful Iranian space-launch and Iranian intransigence on the nuclear front, especially where Israel is concerned.  While one presumably successful space  launch (still awaiting independent confirmation) does not a missile force make, the fact that the Iranian program marks this success, that it is outside the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and is known to have strong ties with the North Korean  and Syrian programs, bodes ill for future proliferation schemes.  As the US and its European partners gather this week to review the way ahead for continued engagement regarding Iran’s nuclear program, this shot, coming on the eve of that meeting and near the 30th anniversary of the Iranian Revolution should give the assembled party pause to consider just what are  Iran’s intentions, particularly vis-a-vis negotiated agreements and arms control.

 In 1985, then speaker of the Iranian Parliament, Hashemi-Rafsanjani stated that acquisition of a viable ballistic missile force was a national priority and Iran would become “…a missile power second only to the superpowers.”  As the primary supplier of material and technical assistance to Hamas’ rocket campaign against Israel, as a nation that went from zero capability to conducting operational launches against Iraq during the war of the cities in less than two months in early 1985 and now as one that has joined the handful of other states to have built and launched an indigenous space launch vehicle while actively blocking inspection of its nuclear program, Iran’s challenge to regional peace and stability has just been ratcheted up another notch.  Not just Israel, but now Europe, especially the southern tier should and must be more aware of the implicit threat embodied in yesterday’s event.

 Madam Secretary, Mr. President  - your phones are ringing…

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UPDATES:

From Norbert Brugge’s excellent space vehicle site are a large collection of photos of the Safir as released by IRNA.  Note the size/scale of the missile compared to the nearby humans.

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Arms Control Wonk has analyses of the intitial orbital parameters as well as a graphic here and here.  See especially the comments – some rudimentary (back of the envelope) calculations seem to yield a range of 2500 km w/a 1,000 kg payload   (representative nuke payload).

1270Finally, apropos the significance of this event in the larger scheme of things, comes this observation in an editorial column in today’s Ria Novosti:

The first sputnik was designed to distract a government that was bent on nuclear arms development.

The effect exceeded all expectations, but that is a different story…

…things that make you go “hmmm…”

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