Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Respond or Leave

Everyone has heard by now of the apparent cruise missile (C-802 is the most likely) attacks on two US Navy ships.  If you haven’t, you can check out the USNI article (1).  The USS Mason, a Burke destroyer, launched two SM-2 missiles and one ESSM in response to the cruise missiles.  Both cruise missiles landed in the water short of the ships and there is no indication that either was shot down by the destroyers missiles.  It appears that either the cruise missiles never had a target lock or the destroyer’s electronic countermeasures prevented a lock.

I’m not going to waste time speculating about the performance of the weapon systems since we don’t have enough information.  Instead, let’s see what other lessons we can learn.

First, the fog of war is eternal.  Despite all our sensors, electronics, radar, IR, optics, and computer software, we don’t know whether the missiles we fired in defense hit anything.  How is that possible?  No one was trying to deny us sensor data as would happen in a peer war.  We had a completely unhindered view of a small battlespace and yet we couldn’t even see whether any of our three missiles hit anything?  This should serve as a lesson to all those who want to commit us to the vaunted Third Offset strategy based on networks, unmanned vehicles, and a wholly unfounded belief that we will have an omniscient view of the battlefield thereby enabling and enhancing our forces.  What a bunch of cow droppings!  We can’t see an uncontested battlefield clearly and it’s only going to be much, much more confused when a peer enemy contests the battlefield with electronic warfare.  We won’t know jack about what’s going on.  That’s the reality of war.  That’s the fog of war.  We should be training for that confusion rather than blindly believing we’ll see everything.  The fog of war is eternal and all-encompassing.  We need to embrace it and train for it, not ignore it.

Second, we need to respond with massive and deadly force – or leave the area.  Any other course is just going to get US sailors killed and ships sunk.  Failure to respond will simply embolden our enemies and ensure further attacks.  The various actors in the area need to understand that threatening US ships is a fatal mistake.  If it’s not a mistake and they can launch missiles at us with impunity as we demonstrate our restraint and passivity then we need to leave the area because we clearly aren’t doing any good.  I think the odds of us responding are negligible so I think we should leave the area.

Third, this illustrates the need for a counterbattery (countermissile, in this case) capability.  The moment the incoming cruise missiles were detected, Tomahawk missiles should have been heading towards the cruise missile launch point.   Further, a UAV should have been directed to the launch point to look for follow up attack possibilities.  The two cruise missile attacks were apparently launched an hour or so apart.  It’s not clear whether they were launched from the same point (there’s that fog of war, again!) but a UAV should have been overhead, watching, for the second launch.  A UAV might also have allowed us to preemptively attack the second missile launch site.  If we’re going to operate on the modern battlefield, split seconds will be all we have and a countermissilebattery fire capability is badly needed.

What response will the Navy and the country make?  If history is any indicator, none. 

What lessons will the Navy learn?  If history is any indicator, none. 


(1)USNI News website, “USS Mason Fired 3 Missiles to Defend From Yemen Cruise Missiles Attack”, Sam LaGrone, 11-Oct-2016,


  1. So let's say you're a Houthi rebel.

    You've been fighting against a goddawful dictatorship that's so rotten 2/3s of the army defected to you in 2015.

    The Saudi princes are bombing your funerals in their high tech American jets, the Emirati princes have hired their Australian general to command their Colombian narco mercenary death squads to root you out.

    Things are pretty desperate but you'd be feeling somewhat righteous, especially as you keep winning on the ground in the face of all that American technology and oil money.

    Now you've burned to a hulk one of the mercenary transport ships (just out of US service) and the Americans have sent a destroyer off your coast.

    Assuming you're not stupid are you firing your missiles with a dumb hope of sinking the ship?

    Or have you parked your missile launcher in the grounds of an orphanage so you can draw automated counter-battery fire onto a sympathetic target?

    One suspects that is why the captain is not just blazing away in retaliation.

    On the other hand one wonder what snooping the Iranians are doing on the USS Mason's ECM and EW during these engagements.

  2. Did the US retaliate immediately when USS Rueben James was sunk by a U boat in oct 1941 ? Same went for USS Greer , USS Grear.
    Much earlier USS Panay was sunk in 1937 on Yangtze River.
    This idea of immediate retaliation outside declared war doesnt seem to have existed previously

  3. The question isn't what they have learned but what had been unlearned related to war

    However on a technical note this is the first anti shop missile ever fired at an aegis ship that I'm aware of. I wonder if we will get any rundown of its performance

    1. Its not confirmed its 'anti-ship missile'
      This was a recent informed observation
      "Moreover, it’s not the Houthis who are firing ballistic missiles including Scuds, Frogs, SS-21s and SA-2s at Saudi Arabia, at Saudi bases inside Yemen and — more recently — at the American destroyer USS Mason. Rather, the three brigades of the Yemeni army Missile Defense Command and several air-defense units are the ones lobbing the missiles."

    2. Ztev all those missiles either cannot guide over the horizon at a ship or are short ranged.

      The most likely missile used deducing from known sources of weapons supplied to the rebels. It probably is a Noor missile or copy of the C-802.

      Either way the SS-21 frog (ballistic types) and SA-2 (AA types) will not track over the horizon, the RPG is deceptively short range and anti tank missiles have a tendency to flail over water due to tracking issues. Plus the anti-tank/rpg missiles are probably trackable but not shoot-able by the AEGIS due to flight characteristics (low as in meters above water) and Time/short duration their of Flight. This leaves only anti-ship missiles and from looking at the available information isn't that far fetched. Either way the boats picked it up the missiles and responded with ECM and missiles from reports. At least a SM-2 and ESSM were fired at said targets. Had they been ballistic the SM-2 or ESSM probably had a better than even chance of hitting them considering their proximity to the ship. Anyhow we have missiles that are fired and responded too. That is what I am interested in considering our lack of response to missiles fired at US ships under combat conditions.

    3. Last sentence should have said "lack of information on AEGIS combat capabilities under actual combat conditions."


    apparently another failed/foiled attack last night.
    and yes, i too was wondering how much ESM and ELINT these attacks are generating for Iran/China/Russia to get a hold of.


    also, if this is true,
    You may well just have your massive US retaliation. If this report is true, Saudi US forces can't realistically allow a force thats ostensibly independent (read zero accountability) but actually controlled by Quds forces to have such an arsenal on their flanks.
    If, and its a big if, this story is true, then we may soon see a very large naval bombardment of Yemen's shores by US naval forces.
    Watch this space.

  6. Obama is still president. That said, if we knew where they were and could strike them without risking collateral damage (like a hospital), Obama might authorize a retaliatory strike. But, this close to the election, I seriously doubt it.

    And, I wouldn't be so quick to fire a cruise missile in response as there might be a hospital or a bunch of civilians near the point of launch. That's also part of the fog of war.

    But, if the US Navy plans to remain in the area, we had better get more eyes looking for the bad guys. I hope the Navy is doing at least that.

    1. Looks like I was wrong.

      Though this seems like Round 1 to me.

    2. There is a surprise -- it finally made the Cable news stations. They interrupted the Clinton-Trump War Saga for about five seconds with some rather cursory info. And now back to who is worse with women among the candidates. You have to love the news.

      And, as to why it takes so long to react -- the decision rests in D.C. How many hours did it take the President to make this decision?

  7. Since the missiles plunged short into the sea, no one is sure what was fired, perhaps just unguided rockets. Yet this proves that we cannot easily pinpoint where the missiles came from other than within a few miles. We could carpet bomb several square miles causing massive destruction and killing a thousand innocents, but the guilty and the missile system may still escape destruction.

    This is the reality for a Navy constantly looking for harm to get in the way of.

    1. The Navy is not an independent corporation, it deploys where it is "ordered" to do so by the Secretary of Defense / the President. Apparently you have never been a military officer or you would know better -- you would know what are Operation Orders.

    2. Sorry Annon, you sound like Russian propaganda.
      I guarantee you 100% the ship under fire knows exactly what was fired at it.
      And... Radar sites were indeed bombed in retaliation.
      anything else to add?

    3. Keep comments polite and respectful. Discuss the ideas, not the person.

    4. OK
      ELINT designates exactly what type of radar is 'painting' your ship. An onboard database of all known radar signatures would instantly alert the ships signals int officer of the type of radar thats painting them, rough return azimuth, signal strength, etc, etc, etc.

      So, a ship knows whats painting it. Unguided rockets dont even come into play in this discussion...
      As to the actual missile, considering the very short ranges involved, terminal guidance radar would have almost certainly activated the second the missile went hot. Again, the database of radar signatures would instantly identify to the ship what missile is tracking in on it.
      As to what brought the birds down, whether it was an air intercept by sm2's or if it was a decoy system 'enticing' the miss, or radar jamming frying the onboard radar system (one of the unique strengths of AESA radars) only the ships operators know, and as civilians, i very much doubt any of us will ever be party to what actually brought the missiles down.
      But, at an educated guess, they were brought down, and not simply missed due to unreliability, the same, or similar missiles were used 2 weeks ago to destroy the swift, a week later one nearly sank a US cargo ship in the same waters (reported on DEBKA) and the same was used to disable the INS Hanit in 2006. So the missiles would appear to be fairly reliable. The fact that 4 war shots on US arliegh burkes, shows some very positive signs as to its abilities.
      Still, bet there was some pretty brown pants on that bridge. Can't imagine anyone is very happy having ASM being shot at them...

    5. "ELINT designates ..."

      Nate, this is an excellent comment. You've laid out a case of facts and logic and drawn a reasonable conclusion and, on top of that, the comment is informative. Just outstanding!

      That said, I disagree with your conclusion that the missiles were shot down. The Navy spokesman stated that they didn't know and I have no reason to disbelieve him. Given all the bad publicity the Navy has received of late, I'm sure that they would desperately love to trumpet the first successful combat use of the Aegis/Standard system, if they could. The fact that they aren't tells me that they can't - that the missiles were not shot down. The missiles were apparently either decoyed/ECM or simply missed.

      I've said for years that we are likely to be quite disappointed in the performance of the Aegis/Standard system in combat - not because the system is bad, per se, but because using a missile to shoot down a missile is a very challenging task and because all combat systems perform worse than their testing indicates (because the tests are ridiculously staged, easy tests designed to ensure funding rather than test combat performance).

      Regardless of my disagreement with your conclusion, let me repeat: excellent comment.

      As an aside, you'll also note that this demonstrates that I do not remove comments because they disagree with me. In fact, I'll go out of my way to highlight and praise comments that I disagree with if they're well presented, logical, and supported with data.

  8. The Navy operates ships where and in what manner our Operations Orders so dictate -- and they are issued in accordance with commands from the CinC issued via the SecDef to the Fleet Commander and so on down the line. I have stood many a Bridge Watch and was never asked my opinion as to how we should react. Ours is not life in a democracy.

    DOD through whichever spokesman and whatever ordered level will inform people what they wish to inform them -- but in all likelihood won't be what they know.

    Presidents, and they alone, decide whether or not there will be retaliation -- if any, and as the partial list above indicates that is rarely ordered. Ours (of the Navy) is not life in a democracy -- we do not get a vote. We do, however, obey the orders of the Commander in Chief issued through his subordinates. As we say -- "Take the King's Coin, do the Kings Bidding."

    I'm sure the Officers and Men on those ships would be happy to depart that God forsaken area for better locations, preferably ones with decent Liberty Ports. It's not fun to waste one's time on useless patrols and being prevented from either firing back or doing something worthwhile rather than watching from at a distance a war between sides, neither of whom we give a damn about. I can tell you that from actual experience -- many more than one.

    1. Going in boots in all is a slippery slope... its not like the locals are repelling the neighbouring invaders like Ukraine...opps..its exactly like that but saudi is playing the same game as Putin.

    2. I think everyone understands the Navy is not an independent organization. When people, myself included, talk about the Navy coming or going, it's understood that refers to Navy tasking via the nation's directives.

    3. The difficulty with "tasking" is that the size and scope of any military effort -- including the number of ships and types or number of men and mission for the Marines (or the other services}is dictated by DOD / Pentagon and often comes directly from the CinC / NSC. It's specified for the Navy / Marines in the Op Orders we receive.

      Firing 3 Cruise Missiles at 3 (?) radar sites some many hours later (probably located by satellite surveillance) has all the earmarks of an NSC type response. It achieves nothing because the Iranians, Houthis, et al know they are dealing with President Obama who will not make the necessary effort to achieve any foreign policy goal that involves use of force. But it does let them know we are conducting some form of reconnaissance over their area???

      Perhaps it would have been better for Obama to have responded by alternatively doing nothing except publicly complaining, by his increasing the number of ships off of that area (which he will not do), and / or leaving the problem for the next President -- which he is doing. I'm guessing, but I believe that either of the two meaningful Presidential Candidates (and in all likelihood Clinton) would have / will respond more forcefully? But, we'll find out soon enough. In the meantime status quo with the Iranians / Houthis having a bit more information about what we are tracking.

      This series of actions such as the President sending an increasing number of soldiers in groups of 500 or 600 into Iraq -- as advisors; the Russians covering their Area of Operations with an S-300 / S-400 SAM Umbrella and what seems to be their homeland based Cruise Missiles capable of targeting Syria and other areas; the Turks having entered the quicksand, but stopping in the Kurdish Areas unsure where they dare go next; the Iranians and their Allies slowly becoming more aggressive in their confrontations with U.S. forces; the Saudis using Air Power and ... in Yemen and funding and maybe arming various Sunni groups in Syria possibly including ISIS, and others is leading us into a larger war in that area -- while Obama like the proverbial Nero fiddles. That's leadership?

    4. A nice, if discouraging, summary!

  9. I take it you are not a fan of the "Offset" Strategy, a rather odd term. The truth of the matter is that with a little bit of luck and persistence sooner or later someone will penetrate whatever electronic defense technology on which one relies. In the final analysis it is a numbers game. If we wish to operate close to shore, then we must either flood the area with aircraft or UAV's and have multiple ships (more than two) -- or the odds the unexpected will happen will increase.

    It would also be nice to have authority in Ops Orders to fire back without authorization. But, that is not going to happen. Even off of North Vietnam firing on certain types of target, such as NVA Truck convoys driving along their Route 1, required permission from "guess where." The NVA truck convoys never waited around for those permissions. Or, just to be politically even handed -- there was no meaningful retaliation for the bombing of the Marine Barracks in Lebanon -- other then lobbing some 16 inch shells at some poor souls in villages around Beirut.

    According to CNN, they fired three cruise missiles at radar sites?? Okay. So the Houthi rebels have radar installations? I wonder what else they have. The Saudi Air Force had better be careful. Maybe they will provide their Sunni Brothers in ISIS a few shoulder fired missiles to shoot down Shiite piloted Iraqi Aircraft. The Saudis are buying missiles from the Chinese and probably the Russians, not just the U.S. -- wonder why?

    1. If you read the reports that have so far been released on this war, you'll see that the Houthi rebels have roughly 2/3rds of the entire inventory of the Yemeni army before the conflict began.
      Since then, many shipments of everything from low tech to high tech supplies have been intercepted on their way from Iran.
      Worrying aspect.
      For every intercept, more than likely a ship/boat got through. So far, USN and Saudis have reported on many intercepts, which likely means a bucket load got/gets through.


  11. It seems by design that they are bringing the US to their table ?

    For validation, in the hope of official recognition ? in some bewilderingly stupid belief they the US might force a settlement ?

    The attack on the HSV seemed purpose build to get the USN there, and this attack really confirms it, I'm just not sure why ?

    1. You're asking great questions for which I have no answers. I don't know the various MidEast factions nearly well enough to make sense of this. Sadly, it seems our government doesn't either. We'll just have to wait and see how it plays out.

  12. Sorry, typing errors and hit the wrong key --

    "According to the news display at the bottom of the screen showing for a minute on Fox Business News the Iranians are sending their "warships" to the coast of Yemen.

  13. According to the news displays at the bottom of the screen showing on one of the Fox News Stations the Iranians are

    Presuming that is accurate, Welcome to the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin 2016 style. President Johnson was certainly not a strategic genius, but he was a bit more forceful than Obama when it came to driving the North Vietnamese PT type craft and MIGs from the Gulf. Obama is no Reagan who had the Navy drive the Iranians from the Persian Gulf.

    Of course, the so called News Stations are not covering this situation -- it would interfere with the multi-sided political wars of this Presidential Campaign.

    So where is all this heading? Will the Iranians et al wait until post January 2017?

    This comment was posted by Cliff B and appeared in the internal blog but, for some reason, not in the visible blog. I'm posting it for Cliff B.

  14. Respond or leave?

    It is the Suez Canal by extension (geographically and/or maritime trade on the same level as the Malacca strait/SCS), so the USN can't leave.

    So, that leaves how to respond. Well, I look at it several ways
    1. Do we respond to protect the general safe passage of the water way. After all, that choke point is only 20-30 miles wide; what if next missile(s) wayward into commercial ship(s)?

    2. Do we respond (interpreted by the locals as) by stepping further into a local sectarian conflict (Iran backed vs. SA backed) with pan-ME consequence (Iraq/Syria/Shiite/Sunni..)?

    Therefore, I believe any US action should be crafted (or explained) according to 1, not 2, to get the buy-ins from all global trade nations. The acts (i.e. USN shoot back) will be the same for both 1 and 2, but the message (or justification of) will be totally different.

    1. There are other options. You've chose to look at two. Another option is to pull out of the region and tell the rest of the world to take of problem. And so on. Nothing wrong with the two options you've mentioned.

      So, you seem to favor protecting the waterway and shooting back but you see a different message. How do you propose getting that message across? To people on the receiving end of a "shoot back", the nuances of messaging may be lost.

      Do you advocate just responding (shoot back when attacked, leaving the advantage entirely with the attacker - we'll lose that game eventually) or do you think we ought to take proactive/preemptive action to protect the passage?

    2. I don't see Obama using these attacks as an excuse to expand our involvement in Yemen. Between Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Libya, we're already pretty busy as it is.

      I think Obama wants to keep the sea lines open and keep the US out of Yemen. These attacks on our ships might just be a nudge to keep our ships away to keep supplies from Iran coming in.

    3. Are you suggesting the attacks were orchestrated or even conducted by Iran?

    4. Coordinated maybe, conducted by Iran, not likely. We all know it takes skill and training to plan and execute an attack like this. This is far more complicated than firing a few mortars at a troop convoy.

      We've already tied Iran to the deaths of hundreds of our troops in Afghanistan and Iran. Iran grabbed our sailors in January and made a big deal of it and have been pretty belligerent towards our ships over the last few months. Supplying the Houthi rebels by sea is the best they can do now.

      Iran wants the Houthi rebels to either succeed or at least have a seat at the table in the Yemeni government. Keeping them supplied will make one of those come true.

      If we sailed away, it would be major propaganda opportunity that Iran will exploit.

    5. When I say shoot-back, I mean all actions (including preventive ones): on the table, under the table, overt, covert..whatever it takes. By now, the US is very good at this type of low intensity warfare: measured and effective. The trouble is: the US always gets dinged at the messaging part. I will start with two,

      1. Call China in particular: Hey, your trade ships goes thru that narrow body of water, you (Beijing) should call Tehran to call its proxy (Houthi) to knock it off. Also, how about both USN & PLAN convoy thru that water (it's only a tad north of gulf of Aden).

      2. For the rest, noticed across Yemen is Djibuti-where everybody has skin in the safe passage of ships (and it seems everybody has base neighboring each other in Djibuti: US, China, Japan...) Tell everybody to chip in.

      Action is action. Messaging is salesmanship. They don't have to be on the same causation/correlation track.

    6. "If we sailed away, it would be major propaganda opportunity that Iran will exploit."

      On the other hand, sinking (or even just hitting) one of our ships would also be a major propaganda opportunity. What are your thoughts on that?

    7. "When I say shoot-back, I mean all actions (including preventive ones): on the table, under the table, overt, covert..whatever it takes. "

      Hmmm .... That sounds like you're suggesting that the US get more deeply involved. Our record on Mid East involvement is pretty poor. Are you sure you want to do more of that?

      You've noted, correctly, the difficulty the US has with messaging. How do you propose to make this different and more effective?

      Your idea to get US, China, and Japan to all work together is admirable but highly unlikely!

    8. I'm not commenting on right/wrong of US involvement in Yemen; I just take it at face value of what everybody says (or implied.) I'm only narrowly focusing on 'how to protect oneself and prevent another missile attack' and 'how to sell it'.

      As for messaging, in this particular case, is to get everybody involved. Those missiles can hit anybody in that narrow strait. If you (i.e. China, Japan, and everybody else) don't believe me; next time, my ship (i.e. USN) will tag along one of your ship (say, China Shipping) passing thru that strait. A bit arm-twisting and underhanded..

      My take is to sell it more of 'Gulf of Aden anti piracy' than 'another chapter of US quagmire in ME'.

    9. First off, our response so far has been specific, measured and reasonable. If the attacks continue in frequency and intensity, then we have to respond accordingly, like attacking their command and communication nodes, radar sites, and ammo dumps. But, if they get lucky and seriously damage or sink a ship, then we have to respond with the Mother-Of-All strikes and make sure they can't do that again.

    10. One more thing, if we connect Iran to damaging or sinking one of our ships, then at a minimum, their navy needs to cease to exist.

    11. "But, if they get lucky and seriously damage or sink a ship"

      If we simply respond in measured and reasonable ways, to use your phrase, and allow an unending series of free shots at us, don't you think it's inevitable that sooner or later a missile will get through and hit one of our ships? Is that preferred or is preemptive strikes to degrade the attack capability a better option?

    12. "One more thing, if we connect Iran to damaging or sinking one of our ships, then at a minimum, their navy needs to cease to exist."

      What constitutes a connection, in your mind? I think we're already sure that the missiles are coming from Iran. How much more connection are you looking for?

      Also, what happened to your "measured and reasonable"?

    13. Since our ships have already come under attack, nothing we do is preemptive, it's all punitive and retaliatory. And, if they up the scale and intensity, then we hit back harder.

      As for connecting Iran, most would agree that Iran had some role in these attacks. Proving that publically, without compromising the sources and methods used, might be a challenge. If we found a missile that was obviously made in Iran, that would be different.

      But, look on the brightside, at least Iran has been prevented from developing nuclear weapons.

    14. I dont think proving publicly means anything any more.
      We do so over and over again as regards Russian complicity in the murder of 300 westerners over Ukraine. They laugh. We do so over and over again over Syrian/Russian Regimes murdering thousand of Syrians in hospitals, they laugh. We do so over and over again regarding Iranians weapons programs, supplying rebels, or terrorists. Israeli's show shipments with 'Made in Iran' stamped on rockets, they laugh, and it goes nowhere.

      We should just fight as we need to to maintain our interests, and let the cards fall where they may. They'll always cry poor (most recent example, Houthis, shoot 2 US ships out of the water [international], fire 4 more missiles at a US destroyer, and when having their radar sites demolished, cry about US getting involved).
      Just fight out fight, and let them cry.

      While i usually advocate peace, this is a time when Ceaser Caligula's maxim comes to the fore 'Let them hate so long as they fear'.

    15. "I dont think proving publicly means anything any more."

      Very nice comment and very good point about the "value" (or lack thereof) of proof.

    16. Great thread.

      We're already somewhat involved in the Yemeni civil war--quick news search is that the U.S. has been providing recon and aerial refueling for a "Saudi-lead coalition." for some time.

      As I understand it, our main strategic goal in Yemen is to be able to hunt leadership of AQ (or whoever) who might be able to organize attacks on the U.S. Agree with this or not as you like, but short term, our tactical response should support our strategy.

      What I don't know is how significant the destruction of those three radars was. Is that just a "message" or does it meaningfully degrade the Houthi's ability to wage ASuW? Either way, this is probably their last chance--if they continue taking pot shots at ships in international waters, I suspect the USN will patiently and methodically remove their ability to do so. IMHO, that's a better response than just dumping some ordnance on the launch site.

    17. Nice comment.

      Note the distinction, though, between an immediate response (countermissile) and a methodical "war". The countermissile response is meant to eliminate the immediate threat and discourage future repeats. You'll note that the US ships were attacked twice over the course of an hour. An immediate countermissile response might have precluded the second attack if they came from the same launcher/site (there's no indication that they did or did not). Countermissile is, therefore, an immediate self defense response whereas a methodical campaign is a longer term, strategic response but carries with it a greater chance of getting bogged down in yet another pointless Mid East quagmire. I have no problem getting involved if there is some national interest at stake (not sure there is) and we have a clearly defined goal and end point (which we've been very poor at defining).

  15. In terms of demanding immediate counterbattery fire, note that this is a technical challenge. A sea skimming ASCM may not be detected until it is over the water and far from its launch point. The bearing of approach is not necessarily dispositive as certain missile can have a programed flight path including waypoints to throw off a line of bearing shot. And even if you had the correct bearing or even a specific launch point, what exactly are you going to shoot before launcher scoots? I guess maybe 5" if you are close enough, but even NGFS missions take a fair amount of data/planning and you are unlikely to be close enough if you are outside territorial waters. I suspect effective counterbattery fire would really have to be an aircraft already aloft over the area that gets a visual on the launch and is armed air-to-ground.

    1. Good points. On the other hand, let's consider the Navy's claims. The Navy claims near miraculous Aegis capabilities so immediate detection of a missile fired within 30 miles or so shouldn't be difficult. The Navy claims that they have total battlespace awareness. The military is even basing an entire military strategy on that premise - the Third Offset Strategy. The Navy claims that with P-8/Triton and other systems that they have complete monitoring of nearly every square inch of maritime area so I would certainly expect that a known trouble spot like the passage off Yemen would be thoroughly covered.

      In addition, given the relatively short distance involved off Yemen (20-30 miles?), I suspect that any anti-ship missiles are not using waypoints. In the few semi-documented uses of C-802 missiles, I've not found any indication of waypoint usage. I'm not sure that C-802 is even waypoint capable.

      Finally, in a known trouble spot with fairly small, known trouble areas, wouldn't you think that we would have continuous overhead surveillance? We've spent an awful lot of money on UAV systems and been told about their amazing endurance and surveillance capabilities.

      So, while your points are theoretically valid, the reality is that if we can't do countermissile fire then we've been wasting a LOT of money on useless technologies. Now, I understand that Aegis doesn't currently have the software capability to do counterbattery or countermissile but it would take only a software modification to accomplish it. If we're going to stand close into harm's way we need better combat capabilities.

    2. Does anyone know how far inland this class of missile can be launched from? Quick Google Earth look is that moving inland from Yemen's west coast you see 10-15 miles of flat sand, than low rugged hills that would be great places for TELs to hide.

      Even if you weren't using waypoints for deception, wouldn't a missile of this type fly blind to a designated waypoint then activate terminal guidance?

      Two reference bits of data:
      -- Iran makes a truck TEL for Noor and Qader missles (C-802 derivatives) that per Wikipedia "can be disguised as a civilian truck"
      -- Recent versions of the C-802 (but not the Iranian reverse engineered ones AFIK) use a laser altimeter and can use terminal infrared, so you've got a missile with no radar emissions.

    3. Unfortunately, there is no definitive information available. We'll have to wait and see if more comes out over time.

  16. Did the / do the Iranians / Houthis employ Search Radar to locate / track the Navy Ships operating off their coast? If so, that would be easily observed by ECM.

    What is / was the nature / type of the guidance system used by the missiles fired by the Iranians or Houthis? How far from the Destroyers in question (if more than one) did those missiles splash into the water?

    If the ships were 20 to 30 miles off the coast they were out of eyesight of those on the land. If those missiles were being electronically guided to their target that would be easily discovered by ECM.

    The articles I just read were rather vague, probably having received little information from the Navy. USA Today noted the Navy employed counter measures against the incoming Missiles which would be a logical tactic if one is operating close to shore and reacting with minimum response time. There are a number of types of counter measures. It would be interesting to know which one or ones they employed.

    If those missiles from Yemen were heading directly for one of the ships in question, it is logical to presume they were being guided to their target -- thus one can presume they would have hit their target absent either having their lock on broken or, more likely, having their path to target deflected by counter measures, thus their falling in the water. The tactical objective isn't necessarily to shoot down incoming missiles, it is to redirect them away from their intended target and have them fall meaninglessly into the water.

    It is a tactical decision made by the Ship's Captain. I know the logical sequence of responses -- but I will leave that up to the Navy to expound upon if they foolishly wish to do so. One thing, I can state, if those Iranian / Houthi fired missiles fell into the water near the ships -- it wasn't because they ran out of fuel.


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