Hopefully it doesn't. However, if they are delivered to Syria, we know how to proceed.
- Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon
The ingenious designers of the S-300 family of anti-aircraft systems were ahead of their time by a quarter of a century - until now, the "three hundredth" guardian of heaven is the most advanced anti-aircraft missile system in the world, before which all NATO combat aviation bows its head.
Time has confirmed the correctness of the technical solutions incorporated in the S-300: the design of the complex turned out to be ideal, from the point of view of real combat conditions. Our scientists were the first to guess to place missiles in TPK (transport and launch containers) - sealed "cans" in which ammunition (anti-aircraft missile + starting gas generator) can be stored for decades, ready for launch at any moment. "The key to the start" - and the rocket leaves the TPK, flying upward, towards its inevitable death; in a minute it will become a flash of blinding light, disappearing from the radar screens along with the enemy aircraft.
The second ingenious "feature" from the creators of the S-300 is a vertical launch: the anti-aircraft missile independently unfolds in the air and lays down on a combat course. Such a scheme allows the launcher to be placed on any suitable "patch" in the folds of the landscape, between buildings, in narrow gorges and hollows, protected from the effects of shock waves and weapons of destruction of the enemy. Unlike the S-300, the US Patriot anti-aircraft missile system has to waste valuable time deploying the heavy launcher towards the target. Due to the inclined launch, the Patriot needs space and open spaces - the launcher is hampered by nearby houses, hills and trees.
The creators of the S-300 initially worked for the future, given the progress in countermeasures to air defense systems. It is no secret that radar signals are emitted with side branches - "petals". In modern electronic warfare, the enemy always tries to catch the "side lobes" of the main radio beam, thereby recognizing the frequency and operating mode of the radar. Having received this information, it doesn't cost anything to “jam” the radar with interference in the required wavelength range.
The creators of the S-300 have foreseen this threat - the "side lobes" of the S-300 beam are minimized, which makes it extremely difficult to detect and classify the radar of the "three hundred" anti-aircraft missile system. In addition, the S-300 had serious opportunities to adapt to the interference environment and suppress the "Doppler noise". In the work of the S-300, noise-immune communication lines with automatic frequency tuning are used, there are modes of "collective" work, in which data received from different radars flows to a single command post of an anti-aircraft missile battalion. No matter how the enemy tries to jam the air defense detection systems, the anti-aircraft gunners will in any case get a clear idea of the air situation, summarizing fragmentary information from several radars.
Operation in triangulation mode is possible - simultaneous target illumination by two radars; knowing the exact distance (base) between the radar and the angles / azimuths at which they observe the target, you can build a triangle, at the base of which is the base, at the top is the detected target. In a moment, the computer will accurately determine the coordinates of the target. A very ancient and reliable way to calculate, for example, the location of the jammer.
As for the S-300 weapons, this is a hackneyed and obvious topic. An encounter with a rocket that dissects the sky at six speeds of sound is the guaranteed end for any aerodynamic object created by human hands. Finally, the S-300 family of anti-aircraft missile systems is a whole complex of detection equipment, mobile launchers on wheeled and tracked chassis (not counting the ship's S-300F), kungs with auxiliary equipment and combat alert modules.
A choice of two dozen samples of medium, long and ultra-long-range missile ammunition; with conventional and "special" warheads, with active and semi-active homing heads.
Disadvantages? Any system has them. The list of disadvantages of the S-300 usually consists of two factors:
The first is the bulkiness of the complex. There are complaints about its element base. As the old joke goes: Our ICs are the largest ICs in the world!
The second drawback has nothing to do with the design of the air defense system - this is a common problem of all modern anti-aircraft missile systems, associated with the fundamental laws of nature. Radio waves propagate in a strictly straight line, and this causes problems with the detection of low-flying objects. For example, threatening statements about the destruction of targets at a distance of 400 km for the S-400 Triumph air defense system concern only targets in the upper layers of the stratosphere. At the same time, any "maize" flying over the very tops of trees can safely sneak up to the S-400 positions at a distance of a couple of tens of kilometers, while remaining invisible and absolutely invulnerable to the anti-aircraft missile system (super refraction and other rare atmospheric phenomena that increase the radar detection range, we will not consider).
The formula for calculating the distance of the horizon (radio horizon), taking into account the height of the observer and the height of the observed object
The radio horizon problem has two solutions:
The first is the issuance of target designation using external detection means (AWACS aircraft, spacecraft), followed by firing anti-aircraft missiles on active homing. Alas, none of the modern air defense systems has such fantastic operating modes.
The second solution is to increase the antenna suspension height. To expand the "visibility zone" of the S-300 radar, a universal mobile tower 25 m high was created, transported by a MAZ-537 vehicle, as well as a 39-meter two-section 40V6M tower, which, despite its enormous height, can be mounted in an unequipped position within two hours …
The combat capabilities of the complex are exceptionally great - it is no coincidence that our "Western partners" are so furious at the mention of the S-300. Nevertheless, it would be naive to believe that NATO members were "idle" all this time. There is a problem - there must be a solution. The American military-industrial complex was furiously looking for a way out of this situation, and proposed a number of very significant and effective means.
I invite readers to get acquainted with the NATO air force's recruitment to overcome powerful layered air defense systems and make a prediction: is there a chance for the S-300 to protect the Syrian sky?
It is not customary to talk about this plane out loud. Let Discovery and Strike Force discuss yet another fifth generation fighter, but the existence of the RC-135W Rivit Joint must be hidden from the public eye. This is the secret of the US Air Force, the American trump card, without which it would be impossible to conduct modern wars.
So, get acquainted: Boeing RC-135W "Rivit Joint" - aircraft of the SIGINT (signal intelligence) system, a key factor in overcoming enemy air defenses. Loitering in the airspace of Turkey, Iraq and Israel, the RC-135W carefully "probe" the Syrian territory with their side antennas, identifying the sources of radio signals and their belonging to different systems. It is the long-nosed, unsightly plane "Rivit Joint" that will draw a radio-technical map of the enemy air defense system, find weak points and vulnerabilities in it - corridors through which anti-air defense suppression groups will go.
Bearing … radar at Damascus international airport … azimuth 03, unknown source of radiation, launching the matching program … oh shit! this is the tin shield * of the Russian S-300 complex !!!
The RC-135 is built on the basis of the KC-135 air tanker, which, in turn, is based on the Boeing-707 passenger airliner. The RC-135 family of reconnaissance aircraft is more than half a century old and is currently using the Rivit Joint RC-135W modification - a total of 22 aircraft in the US Air Force + three reconnaissance aircraft of the British Air Force.
Also, naval aircraft EP-3C "Aries" (modification of the famous "Orion") and a number of special vehicles with the indexes "U", "R" and "E" can be used for radio reconnaissance and identification of positions of enemy air defense systems. Combined with space reconnaissance satellites, NATO command is able to obtain complete information about the state of the enemy's air defense system.
SAM positions are tracked, what's next?
Jammers come into action. For example, EC-130H "Compass Call" - a clumsy jammer based on the C-130 Hercules military transport aircraft.
"Compass Call" does not even try to climb into the zone of action of enemy air defense, loitering at low altitude a hundred kilometers from the positions of the air defense missile system, while regularly "breaking" the air with barrage of electronic discharges. The actions of the ES-130N have a detrimental effect on the operation of the enemy's radio-electronic means - interference clogs up the communication lines, disrupting the coordination of the enemy's forces and creating additional problems for the enemy's air defense.
The number of the EC-130H "Compass Call" in the ranks of the US Air Force is 14 units.
The location and type of the air defense missile system is established, the management is partially disorganized. The time has come to deliver a powerful blow to the enemy's air defense system.
A specialized electronic warfare aircraft EA-18G "Growler", created on the basis of the F / A-18F "Super Hornet" fighter-bomber. Vehicle for direct cover of anti-aircraft defense suppression groups.
The Growler brutally burns the airwaves with electronic interference, creating a bizarre dance of wriggling lines and stripes on enemy radar screens. On board an electronic warfare aircraft, a complex of modern equipment capable of detecting and identifying sources of radio signals in real time, clogging the air with a continuous crackling of electrical discharges.
But, no matter how cool the American EA-18G is, it is too tough for him to "meddle" into the coverage area of the S-300 air defense system. "Growler" prefers to do its dirty tricks at a distance, littering the airwaves with interference and firing at the identified positions of the air defense system with AGM-88 HARM anti-radar missiles.
Growler is an American aviation insurance policy. Without his support, it would be problematic to "crush" the enemy air defense. Even after the destruction of the air defense missile systems, flights over enemy territory cannot do without the accompaniment of these machines - the complex of electronic warfare equipment and dropping traps on board the EA-18G is able to cover strike groups from any existing ground-to-air means - from the mighty S-300 to "Primitive" portable SAM "Igla" or "Stinger" in the entire frequency range of the wave spectrum.
90 EA-18G Growler aircraft to date, all assigned to the Navy and Marine Corps.
In addition to electronic warfare equipment, air-to-air missiles and anti-radar missiles, the EA-18G is capable of carrying conventional strike weapons - if a frightened air defense missile system operator turns off the radar, the Growler will strike with guided bombs.
By the way, about anti-radar missiles:
Wild Caress. AGM-88 High-Speed Anti-Radar Missle
Actually, this is what all the previous gestures were made for - the culmination of the scenario to suppress the enemy air defense system. Rockets aimed at sources of radar radiation entered into action. The calculation is simple - to knock out radars for detecting and illuminating targets with the help of HARMs, after which the S-300 division will turn into a pile of useless iron.
Anti-radar missiles are not particularly selective. HARMs hit everything - from FM radio antennas to microwaves and satellite phones.To achieve the necessary effect, they are launched in volleys of several thousand pieces, literally "seeding" the area adjacent to the identified positions of the air defense missile system with missiles - as a result, several pieces will necessarily explode near the radar, putting the anti-aircraft missile system out of action.
AGM-88 HARM on the wing pylon of the F / A-18C multirole fighter
HARM is dangerous and cunning - even if the operator, sensing something wrong, manages to turn off the radar installation, HARM will remember the last coordinates of the radiation source and continue its way in the direction of the target, guided by the data of the onboard INS.
When it comes to launching HARMs, there is no time for jokes and any decency. The massive attacks involve everyone who is capable of holding a weapon: F / A-18 Hornet, EA-18G Growler, F-16 Fighting Folken, Tornado … missiles are launched from the greatest possible distance, trying to minimum to be shown to the eyes of the calculations of the air defense system. Exit to the attack area at an extremely low altitude - slide - shoot HARMs on homing - care for the radio horizon, to a low altitude. The slightest delay threatens with death.
Especially worth noting is the F-16CJ - a special modification of the "Folken", going at the forefront of the attack. F-16CJs are in service with Wild Weasels Squadrons - battle groups specializing in suppressing air defense systems. It is these small, nimble (and cheap - so as not to be a pity) machines, under the cover of "Growlers", are the first to invade the airspace of the country *, giving the air defense system calculations a rather dubious choice - to receive a HARM as a gift or turn off the radar, turning into a target for bombs with laser guidance. However, the "Wild Laskam" themselves are not laughing - the guys are taking serious risks and can turn from hunters into game at any minute, unexpectedly hitting the air defense system.
F-16CJ of the Wild Weasel squad
In reality, the situation is much tougher - according to the US Air Force, the cost of one 360-kilogram HARM goes off scale for $ 300 thousand - a volley of thousands of such missiles can ruin the American budget for a billion dollars. A very expensive toy.
Blow from the sea. BGM-109 "Tomahawk"
A tactical cruise missile designed to destroy important ground targets (command centers, communication centers, radar and anti-aircraft missile systems, airfields, hangars and caponiers, military bases, warehouses, and other strategically important objects) at a distance of up to 1600 km. Based on the facts of the use of "Axes", the massive launch of these flying suicide robots leads to a noticeable destabilization of the enemy's armed forces.
Jokes about the BGM-109's subsonic flight speed usually backfire for frivolous jokers - the Tomahawk is really not too fast (cruising speed ≈ 850 km / h, with some increase in the last leg of the flight due to fuel consumption, see Zhukovsky's formula). This creates certain problems in the planning of operations - missiles take time to reach their targets. But this does not in any way affect the vulnerability to air defense systems - the "Ax", in any case, goes too low to be in the zone of visibility of the air defense system radars. Stealth is the main feature of the BGM-109 cruise missile.
Trouble can arise only when attacking well-protected targets, when overcoming the anti-aircraft lines of "Pantsir" and "Tungusok". Well, here is how the map will fall … Official statistics on the use of "Tomahawks" (NATO aggression against Yugoslavia, 1999) - 700 cruise missiles launched, 40 (less than 6%) were shot down, 17 more missiles were carried away by interference.
Vertical launchers on an American destroyer. Each can have a "Tomahawk"
It is worth noting that the modern modification of the "Tomahawk" Block IV was able to patrol in the air in standby mode and learned to destroy moving targets.
Backstab. Helicopter AH-64D "Apache Longbow"
And where does this eccentric climb ?! - the astonished reader will exclaim, and he will be wrong.
In the winter of 1991, during Operation Desert Storm, Apache helicopters, flying through the night darkness and impenetrable smoke from burning oil wells, "paved" four corridors in the Iraqi air defense system in one night - from the border to Baghdad itself.
Suppression of air defense systems is one of the main functions of the Apache. To do this, the rotorcraft has everything you need: ultra-low flight altitude, the ability to hide in the folds of the relief - the radar above the main rotor hub allows you to hide behind any obstacle (hill, structure, forest belt), "exposing" only the tip of the radar antenna. Finally, four packs of Hellfire guided missiles on underwing pylons are enough to turn the SAM positions into burning ruins.
Also, in addition to attack helicopters, the role of unmanned aerial vehicles… Slow, clumsy and weak - however, these "dragonflies" have one important characteristic - they are desperately brave. The drone, without batting an eye, will pass where the bravest of the kamikaze is afraid to go. The UAV has nothing to lose, it is able to shove "head-on" into the position of the air defense missile system, demonstrating complete contempt for death. A good tool in combination with the rest of the above aspects (Tomahawks, Growlers, etc. products of the gloomy American genius).
Finally, this week's threat from the Israeli Defense Minister: "If they are brought to Syria, we know what to do."
Moshe Ya'alon doesn't bluff. Israel is known for its tough actions to please its own national security. The Shaket special forces raid on an Egyptian airfield (1966), the abduction of the Soviet radar (Operation Rooster-53, Egypt, 1969), the bombing of the Iraqi nuclear center Osirak (1981), the bombing of an arms factory in Sudan (October 2012.), recent strikes on Syria … Israel spits on all the norms of international law, unceremoniously invading the airspace of other states, and does not hesitate to use weapons to kill.
It is possible that the Israelis will try to destroy Russian anti-aircraft missile systems even before they are deployed to combat positions.
Clash of the Titans
If all six ordered anti-aircraft missile systems are delivered to Syria, there will be little hope for a peaceful resolution of the Syrian conflict; NATO will falter and hesitate to launch a military invasion operation. The Pentagon has serious reasons to reflect on its behavior and once again weigh all the possible risks in an attack on Syria. Even if the operation goes smoothly and the US Air Force air armada is able to crush six Syrian S-300s, while suffering single losses in aircraft, even in this case, the Pentagon will face considerable financial difficulties associated with the monstrous overspending of HARM anti-radar missiles and other ammunition required to suppress super-systems S-300.