Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Hamas and Hezbollah Have SA-24s

    Aviation Week reports that Hamas in Gaza, and Hezbollah in Lebanon, are now in possession of an unknown number of SA-24 "Grinches" from Libya.  The missiles reportedly were shipped from Libya to Iran, where they were sent to Syria and Gaza. 
     The SA-24 has a maximum engagement altitude of 6 kilometers (3.7 miles), and a warhead of 2.5 kilograms (5.5lbs). The SA-24 also has a more advanced guidance system than the SA-7, and is not as easy to evade as the SA-7. The SA-24 entered into service with the Russian military in 2004 making it rather new, and thus is just entering it's service life. This also makes the SA-24 a threat for a long time to come as the batteries in a MANPADS's (MAn Portable Air Defense System ) guidance system determine the missile's lifespan as long as there are no problems with the missile itself.
    This is not a surprising development, back in September I wrote that a number of SA-24s had fallen into terrorist hands. It was only a matter of time till the SA-24 showed up around Israel. Now it will be interesting to see what kind of threat this poses to Israeli airstrikes in Lebanon and Gaza, and  how long it takes till a plane gets shot down.

Monday, March 12, 2012

A Strategy For The 21st Century, Part 7: The Navy

     The Navy. This service among all 5 is probably the most important not only from a war fighting point of view, but in terms of foreign policy. However, the Navy has made a number of grave errors in recent history which must be fixed.
     1. Cancel the Littoral Combat Ship. Between 2004 and 2011, the Navy ran a contest between General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin for a contract to develop the Littoral Combat Ship. Basically, the LCS is meant to get in the shallows and chase down pirates and other hostiles, hunt mines, and hunt subs. In 2011 the Navy asked Congress purchase both designs, this has since been approved. The price for a single LCS is about 450 million dollars. The LCS also uses "modules" for specialized tasks like ASW, whcih can switched out for other modules to handle other tasks. However, as of 2011 not one of the "modules" supposed to be used in the LCS has become operational. At the same time the missile meant to be used by the LCS, the XM501 has been canceled, which takes away a good deal of the LCS's firepower. At the same time Huntington Ingalls has produced a frigate design based of the Coast Guard's National Security Cutter, called  "Patrol Frigate 4921". This design offers several advantages over the LCS, better handling in heavy seas, longer range, slightly heavier armor (armor does matter in the littorals), greater firepower. All that is required is upgrading the radar and electronics to Naval standards, upgunning the 57mm cannon to a 76.2mm or a 127mm gun, adding several 25mm chain guns for close in fighting, and the addition of a towed sonar array.                                       
     2. Cancel the Zumwalts. Another Navy boondoggle is the Zumwalt-class of destroyers. The Zumwalt-class have an emphasis on land attack, while at the same time handling the duties of a regular destroyer. Originally, there were supposed to be 32 Zumwalts, as of 2012 there will only be 3 Zumwalts built. On top of this the Navy has stated that they no longer want the Zumwalts, and they would rather have more Arleigh Burkes. Also, in this instance quantity over quality should be the mantra, because destroyers are exponentially more valuable. Thus, the loss of one not as capable destroyer of which there are many, would not be felt as much as the loss of an extremely capable destroyer of which there are few. The cost of a single Zumwalt is 3 billion dollars, at the same time 5 Arleigh Burkes can be purchased for the same amount. There are also concerns that even though the Zumwalt is equipped for the land attack role, it will be unable to fufill it's duties as it pertains to naval fire support. In this instance the solution would be simply to purchase more Arleigh Burkes rather than the Zumwalt-class.
     4. During the Cold War the U.S. was the best in the world at anti-submarine warfare (ASW), and had the best sub force in the world. However, since the  so-called "Peace Dividend"  sub force hgas dropped from 93 SSNs and 33 SSBNs, to 53 SSNs, and 14 SSBNs in 2011 (this does not include 4 SSBNs converted to SSGNs.). Some of these cuts are understandable, as the collapse of the Soviet Union there was not as great a need for a large sub fleet. However, with the rise of the PRC there is need for more subs, as carriers and surface warships might not be able to get close to Asia because of ASBM and cruise missile threats. Same goes for the Navy's ASW capability, at the end of the Cold War, American ASW crews were the best, however the skills which were honed by hunting Soviet subs in the North Atlantic have deteriorated with a lack of emphasis on the sub threat. 
     This is just a beginning on the road to rebuilding the Navy, there need to changes in the way the Navy selects it flag officers and makes promotions, naval aviation, women on subs and carriers, and the SEALs. But what is stated above, is an excellent start to rebuilding the Navy.


Obama Impeachment Bill Introduced

Rep. Walter B. Jones Jr. has introduced a bill into Congress that would impeach Obama if the U.S. bombs Syria without the permission of Congress. 

This is what Rep. Jones is ticked about:

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

DF-41 Back From The Dead?

    China Defense Blog posted this photo showing an unidentified Chinese missile being carried on a WS-9000 commercial truck chassis. Defense Tech suggested that this might be a DF-31, but he pointed out it is much to small to be a DF-31. However, there are couple of other possibilities, 1) It could be a DF-41, 2) It could be a DF-16, or 3) something new.
     Personally, my first thought is that this is a DF-41. The DF-41 program was started in 1986, and was supposedly canceled 2002. However, no one really knows what has happened to the program, and it is entirely possible that it is still going strong. Also, the DF-41 was reported to be silo-based and road mobile, which could make this a DF-41. 
      As to the possibility that this might be a DF-16, this is probably the most debatable as no one actually knows anything about the DF-16 is, if it is in the first place road mobile, and the dimensions. All that is known about the DF-16 is that is an IRBM with a range of 4,000km, and that it is in development. As to the possibility that this is an entirely new missile, it is either an ICBM or an IRBM, obviously road mobile, has length of at least 20m, besides that there is not much else one can tell from this photo.
      It will be interesting to see over the spring and summer to find out whether or not this is a DF-16, -41, or an entirely new system.