Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Comments, Current Events

Comments are still OK, don't worry.  Just to reiterate a few old "rules" though:

1.  Say whatever you want.  I'm not a censor.  I'll even usually reply.  I bring this up because sometimes I get comments that do sit in the box for a day or two.  The reason behind that is usually because it's a piece of information that is interesting or relevant and I want to examine it, and the comment inbox is a safe place to store it so I don't forget where it was posted and then lose it.

2.  That being said, comments are still moderated.  This means I have to hit a button that says 'publish" for your comment to show up.  Why?  Because I get way too many spam comments.  Spam I will censor.  Pretty much anything else is fair game.

Here's a good spam comment that showed up right after I posted this:  "I'm impressed, I have to admit. Seldom do I encounter a blog that's both educative and engaging, and let me tell you, you've hit the nail on the head. The problem is an issue that too few people are speaking intelligently about. I'm very happy I came across this during my hunt for something relating to this. Also visit my blog legal amphetamines"

See what I mean?  There has to be some sort of comment generator these idiots are using, because I'll get the same one multiple times with the only difference being the website they want you to visit.  They're smart about it too, they only post on older articles, very rarely the most current feature.

Anyway, I assume nobody really wants legal amphetamines.  Although it'll be interesting to see what the words legal amphetamines do to my incoming traffic for the next few days.  I wonder if anyone monitors websites looking for the words legal amphetamines because I'm relatively certain spam comment websites are not really pointing you to legit legal amphetamines.  There might be a search engine designed to find the phrase legal amphetamines on websites to track people who are after said legal amphetamines.


Fun over, on to the news.

Well this should be self-explanatory.  The contract doesn't have to be fulfilled until about this time next year, so there's no rush.  You do have to wonder why Russia is still dragging their feet, though.  If you're trying to avoid the West going in and screwing up one of your export markets, why would you present them with what amounts to a "bomb by this date" ultimatum?  

This may be the result of Russia both wanting to finalize the deal, while at the same time giving the West time to think about what blowing up a Syrian S-300P series site would mean.  Because it'd probably be host to Russian advisors and trainers for 6 months or so after delivery, you know.  It could also be that Syrian crews just haven't started training or completed the training course yet.  In which case delivering the systems would make them amount to really expensive bombing targets.

Speaking of which, Israel is still barking about blowing the things up if they're delivered because of the threat.  I.E. the Syrian IADS would be credible for the first time since about, oh, 1986 or so.  What I still want to know is what happened to their countermeasures that they were so sure would defeat an S-300P series system?  If the system represents no real threat (and assuming they haven't drank whatever the Turks did in the 90s), why go to the effort of locating and striking them, especially if you're blatantly risking irritating Russia in the process by potentially killing Russian nationals?  Isn't it better to sit back and laugh as Assad spends himself into a hole?

Wait, I know.  Clearly Russia upgraded to Windows 8, rendering the Israeli electronic countermeasure and intrusion stuff irrelevant.

France claims that analysis proves that sarin gas, which is a chemical weapon and therefore a WMD, was used somewhere in Syria on more than one occasion.

And of course France isn't telling which side used the stuff...which was what I was going to say when the first report came out and they weren't talking.

Now, however, they're claiming that it was Assad's forces and/or regime supporters (diplomat speak for Hezbollah).  Said claims conveniently being made as I was in the process of typing here.  Stupid media.  If they're not blowing things way out of proportion, they're being inconveniently timely with their reporting.

Well, now we're really going to see what the "proper" interpretation of terms like "game changer" and "red line" is, aren't we?  Not that I do or don't think we should be bothering with the non-Assad guys (like I mentioned in another post, supporting such types has worked out so famously for us in the past...), but if I say there will be bombs if you do X, and you go and do X, then it can be argued that there should be bombs.  Otherwise why should anyone take me seriously?

Not that I'm sure anyone should in the first place.

Probably shouldn't take me seriously either.


Anonymous said...

Strange explanations about Russia's "readiness" to ship S-300 system to Syria. Actually Russia has been "shipping" this system to Syria since 2007 but oddly enough Kremlin cannot finish this task so far.

I think that proper explanation is as follows: Russia cannot deliver S-300 to Syria because of two reasons:

- firstly, now Kremlin cannot afford to irritate the West by making such move, openly hostile to Israel

- secondly, now S-300 system is not very effective. It can be destroyed quite easily by advanced western air power (US, NATO, Israel).

All in all Moscow doesn't want to pay political and economic price of delivering S-300 to Syria in its relations with the West and cannot show entire World that its "amazing" S-300 system can be defeated (huge blow to the future export contracts).

Sean O'Connor said...

It isn't a move openly hostile to Israel. The S-300P is an air defense asset, not an SSM. The only way it is "hostile" to Israel is because it would deny Israel the ability to continue living in ignorance of the sovereignty of Syria's airspace. And no, that comment in no way implies that Syria is doing nothing wrong vis-a-vis its situation with Israel.

Also, the system remains very effective, it's been modernized numerous times and the current S-300PMU-2 variant is probably the top land-based strategic SAM you could conceivably buy right this minute and get delivered within a year. It can be destroyed if you have the right tools for the job but even then it's nowhere near as simple as flinging a few ARMs at it from range. Plus, with the capability to find sneaky airplanes, you have to wonder who would take the bigger PR hit: Almaz-Antey, after the SAM battery is blown up, or Lockheed Martin, if it takes a few F-22s along with it.

Also realize that any one of these geniuses who is buying one or two batteries is not going to realistically be able to stop a full-scale aerial operation by a modern military power. A small number of batteries can be oversaturated. This is partly why China likes to keep buying the things and then keeps putting them in the same places. Defense in depth with overlapping fields of fire for mutual support.

Dimitris said...

Hey Sean, love the new "Current Events" format. Keep it up!

Is there any firm indication on which exactly S-300 variant Russia is supposed to ship to Syria? I've read "opinions" that range from surplus -PTs (withdrawn from the Moscow rings) to PMU-2s or even V/VMs.

Sean O'Connor said...

If Syria is getting new systems then they pretty much have to get the S-300PMU-2. Nothing else is in production anymore as far as the P series goes.

PTs from Moscow rings? Those would be pretty old, and there haven't been any deployed around Moscow for a really long time so they'd have sat in storage as well.

Anonymous said...

The S-300P does not need to be an SSM to be a threat to Israel.
Even if placed in Assad's Presidential Palace garden, it has the range to cover most of Israel, including all civilian air traffic.

For the US/Europe a 'defensive' system is a problem only if they consider intervention, for a small neighbour it can be a serious offensive threat.

Anonymous said...

Ah so the only reason Assad hasn't been blowing up airliners right and left is that SA-2/3/6/17s are shorter-ranged.


Robin Hood said...

Nice to see you again here Sean!

Anonymous said...

If the West/Nato needed to destroy a few batteries of S-300 in Syria, how likely is it that F-22s would be needed/risked?

I would imagine the most likely places for the batteries would be around Damascus? Which would mean they would be in range of ATACMS fired from either Turkey or Cyprus.

I know that ATACMS were used for SEAD in Iraq, but that was against much older systems, but I would still imagine that they would be successful against the S-300 as long as enough missiles were fired to oversaturate a battery or two.

Of course, the location of the batteries would be needed to known first, but again how likely is it that Syria could even try to keep changing the location of the batteries? In the middle of a civil war, they are going to need to make sure those batteries are well protected from the rebels. So I would have thought the places they could place them would be limited. Maybe even having to keep them permanently in the same sites.

Or if for some reason the use of ATACMS missiles wouldn't work, then from what I have read, the deal is only for 144 missiles. So not out of the question for even a war of attrition, by using cruise missiles, MALD and some UAVs, until they have depleted all their missiles, or more likely those used together to oversaturate the batteries.

I'm not trying to say that the S-300 isn't a top land-based strategic SAM, but just that like you said, a few batteries isn't going to defend against a modern air force. Even more so in a place like Syria is at the moment, where I would imagine they would have a hard time supporting it at all without a lot of Russian help.

As for PR hit, if these batteries were oversaturated and destroyed by using either ATACMS or UAVs, cruise missiles and MALD decoys, Russia could try to say it was successful because it (and Pantsir-S1) shot down x number of missiles, but I would still think they would take a really big PR hit, with it being shown how a small number of batteries could be destroyed like that.

I might be missing something and wrong, but in my opinion if Russia does send these systems to Syria then I would think it would more be a political statement of support for Syria that anything else. I actually favor the theory that they don't intend to actually send them while the civil war is still going on. Instead are hoping that this statement of support will make the west back off, and hope that the Syrian government can then defeat the rebels.

PS. If it was Israel that decided/needed to destroy these batteries, then any around Damascus would most likely be within GMRLS range from Israel. So should be even easier to oversaturate, with each GMRLS launcher being able to fire 12 missiles, vs two ATACMS missiles.

NICO said...

Great to see the site back up and running. Really like the Current Events section.