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Breaking:Iranian Wargames Video

April 24, 2010

Great Prophet 5.

One more:

21 Comments leave one →
  1. Hudson permalink
    April 26, 2010 1:14 pm

    Marcase – Good points as well. I’m just less and less optimistic that the center can hold much longer. There is a kind of phony war going on there and I fear some irrational finger will pull the trigger sooner or later…with terrible consequences for everyone.

  2. CBD permalink
    April 26, 2010 7:05 am

    In the case of the Hanit, you’re talking about a ~1,300t, 86m corvette. Reportedly poorly planned in terms of weight management (thanks, Litton Ingalls/NG!), but otherwise a fairly good model of what a modern corvette looks like–comprehensive short and medium range air defenses, anti-sub and anti-ship capabilities, oriented for patrol and interdiction operations throughout the range of possible threats.

    The problem is that the Hanit was built to warship standards and the LCSes are built to a semi-reduced damage control standard (slight but important differences in structural stability)…and the big open flex bays are a problem for DC in those areas with reduced compartmentalization when holes begin to appear (note: the LCS-1 pre-waterwings and the position of its boat launch were the ship to sink 3 feet).

    Re: Remote mounts and situational awareness.
    You should see the video feeds from the Mk 38 Mod 2 and Typhoon RWSes that are available online, the additional stabilization, IR imaging and magnification are big boosts over the old Mk 38 Mod 1s…you lose some general situational awareness, but the improved ability to see what is in front of you and precisely engage it at maximum range (and to be removed from the loud sounds and cold winds) will certainly make up for that. I think the solution, as it often is, is simply more mounts.

    Good point about the ‘movie magic’…some of the videos show a view of the deck and you can see what appear to be wired packages that blow up into huge fireballs without leaving any physical damage on the deck (much like pyrotechnics used for films). This would seem to be an entirely unintentional revelation that some of the massive explosions seen from the perspective of the small boats/observation vessel were, indeed, ‘movie magic.’

    Also, the shot seen of an AShM firing a missile is interesting as the missile canister seems to not be readily visible from the perspective of the camera, perhaps to hide its origin but with the definite implication that the ship cannot be readily identified as bearing missiles. BUT, the video of the missile flying into its target looks extraordinarily like a video I saw several months ago when the Iranian government announced a new ship killing missile then…so at least part of what they’re showing might be rather old test footage. Unsurprising for them.

    On the comforting side, the rockets seem to do little more damage than an RPG hit and accuracy at these close ranges and on calm seas certainly leaves something to be desired.

  3. Marcase permalink
    April 26, 2010 2:15 am

    Hudson – goods points. However, whether Iran really or just pretends to develop a deployable nuke is irrelevant, what *is* relevant is how Israel perceives the Iranian threat.
    Israel consideres a nuclear Iran an existential threat to its own survival (Israel is a ‘one bomb’ nation; just the one is enough to finish Israel, period).
    The fear is that Israel might pre-empt, with or without US consent, and that will get really messy.

    A USN blockade of Iran enters China in the conflict, which is heavily dependent on Iranian oil/gas. And Russia will be chagrined as well.
    Considering Obamas overtures towards Moscow I find it unlikely he will go against both the Russians and Chinese just to make a (domestic) point.

    Hitting Irans petrochemical industry is an option, as it is scalable, but the impact on the world economy/oil prices will have severe consequences, and that makes Europe nervous, ntm Wall Street.

    A proxy war is Irans best option and it knows this. Unfortunately, except for some scattered Iranian Kurds perhaps, the US has no proxy-allies in the area with which to exert ‘deniable’ pressure on the mullahs.

  4. Hudson permalink
    April 25, 2010 1:31 pm

    It is entirely possible that a US-led coalition will impose a naval blockade on Iran, to block the import of gasoline and petrochemical products into Iran, sometime before the November mid-term elections in the US.

    This would happen for two reasons: One, Pres. Obama will appear too feckless and weak in the face of continued rebuffs by Iran to engage in “dialog” on the nuclear issue, and the failure of less punishing sanctions to do the job. Two, Obama will play the military card as Bush did in 2002 in a “Wag the Dog” scenario to beef up support for Republicans when his domestic agenda was flat. For Obama, this will be to hold on to power against an expected loss of seats in Congress due to his increasingly unpopular policies.

    The blockade would be positioned in the Gulf of Oman, just outside of the P. Gulf, and therefore relatively safe for the naval ships. However, Iran has said that it will consider such a crippling blockade as an act of war, and it will attack shipping inside the Gulf, particularly at the Straits of Hormuz, where it can deploy its forces most effectively. Inevitably, tankers and naval vessels will be struck and sunk, and all tanker traffic will stop.

    The Allies’ strategic card will be to threaten the destruction of Iran’s petrochemical industry, so as to force Iran to the bargaining table. The mullah’s might blink at this point. Or they might further play the military card themselves, to bolster their own unpopular regime, and fight the Allies tooth and nail, and launch missiles into Israel, as Saddam did during the first Gulf War. Iran is said to have hundreds of rockets that can reach Israel from its own soil.

    You can see where this is going.

    The grand irony of this might–I say “might”– be that Iran is not really trying to produce an Atom bomb, just as Saddam was only bluffing in 2002, that he had WMDs. Iran has said repeatedly it does not seek nuclear weapons, for moral and other reasons.

    During the long Iran-Iraq war, Iran never used chemical or biological weapons against Iraq even though Iraq used copious quantities of chemical weapons against massed Iranian infantry, which helped to drive Iran to the negotiating table. It is difficult to believe, that had it wanted to do so, Iran could not have manufactured mustard or chlorine gas using WWI technology. Iran did fire Scud rockets into Baghdad during the “War of the Cities” phase of that war, until both sides abstained from targeting their civilian populations.

    Iran, therefore, may be content to use proxy armies against Israel (H & H), if not attacked itself, and not to develop nukes even though it looks very much like they are–thus triggering a second war of miscalculation in the Middle East on the part of America and the West.

  5. Marcase permalink
    April 25, 2010 9:50 am

    X – it’s a good point, but I was always taught to never fight the way your opponent fights best.

    (Btw I’m starting to doubt if the UKRM really used a Milan back then, may just have been LAWs, have to look that up).

    The Iranian video btw makes a good point for staying with frigate/LCS-sized ships; a big, gaping hole in the hull, yet the ship is still afloat.

    Consider the damaged USS Cole (suicide bomber), USS Stark (Exocet hit) and INS Hanit (presumed C-802); the larger compartmentalized ships were damaged, but survived.

  6. April 25, 2010 9:34 am

    “But that Milan hit was from rock solid ground. Guiding a Sagger missile from a swaying speed boat is another matter; cross-hairs will be flying all over the target, and these are still relatively slow missiles – again CIWS meat.”

    True. I was more just thinking aloud (typing aloud?) of “small arms light weapons” vs “modern egg shell warship” than saying anything for consideration by learned members. :)

    Lastly I think we should all go and get our history books out and read up on the the Jeune Ecole and see what our forebears thought.

  7. Marcase permalink
    April 25, 2010 6:51 am

    X – they did indeed. But that Milan hit was from rock solid ground. Guiding a Sagger missile from a swaying speed boat is another matter; cross-hairs will be flying all over the target, and these are still relatively slow missiles – again CIWS meat.

    Think of it in this way. For years NATO navies were training against Soviet ‘pop-up’ sea-skimming cruise missiles.
    Western weapons, sensors and tactics were all focused on that. That close-in ‘ambush’ missile required really-really fast C4ISR and weapons response. The end-result of all the R&D invested created effective Phalanx/Goalkeeper CIWS, SeaWolf, ESSM and fast cannons.

    Now, speedboats are fast, but still not as fast as SLCMs.

  8. Marcase permalink
    April 25, 2010 6:38 am

    Mike – true, but a naval vessel isn’t a fishing boat; it can detect threats and maneuver accordingly. It’s not like navy ships purely travel in convoy and wait for the boats to come.

    I can honestly say that the Brits, French, Dutch and Italian navies have very effective gun/missile tactics against small boat threats as SOP, both with and without the use of shipboard helicopters.

    I can’t speak for the USN, as Millenium Challenge was certainly an eyeopener, but my navy roots taught me that frigates aren’t big, lumbering and vulnerable targets. They are faster and much more maneuverable than most folks think, much to the surprise of most attackers.

  9. April 25, 2010 6:36 am

    I hadn’t give air-burst/cannister munitions a thought!!!

    I am concerned that remotely operated weapons systems would reduce situational awareness in enclosed waters. Up on deck behind a good shield may be the best way to deal with this threat.

    I remember that the RN used to keep a small flotilla of FPBs at Portland for training. I think costs and the ascendency of the helicopter did away with those boats.

    RE ATGW I am reminded that the RM on South Georgia did some damage to that Argentine corvette with small arms.

  10. Mike Burleson permalink*
    April 25, 2010 6:04 am

    “No worries folks.
    Both 57mm, 76mm AND 127mm have airburst munitions.”

    I’m still worried, since you have one gun and many sides to a ship. Now if they were 6-8 of these on LCS like the 5 inchers on the old Gearings, it might be OK. Plus some VLS missiles.

  11. Marcase permalink
    April 25, 2010 4:45 am

    Couldn’t resist; FW 57mm in airburst mode vs small boats –

  12. Marcase permalink
    April 25, 2010 4:22 am

    Chuck – you are right. As I said, these boats have mainly unguided rockets, and firing those accurately from a bouncing ship means more misses than hits – hence the multi-barrel rocket launcher.
    There were ATGWs in use as well (not in the video), but firing those means lying still in the water, and even then the boat will be swaying and moving about (even in fair weather). And a sitting target…

    Bottom line, ever since the “Tanker Wars” in the late 1980s Iran hasn’t changed its naval operations much. Still based on the ‘revolutionary’ ambush primarily.

    The only real threat are Kilo subs, mines and coastal missile batteries, these small boats are more a threat to merchants and fishermen.

  13. Marcase permalink
    April 25, 2010 4:16 am

    No worries folks.
    Both 57mm, 76mm AND 127mm have airburst munitions. Especially the air defense shells of the 57mm and especially 76mm can lay a fearsome ‘wall of lead’ that is near impenetrable for missiles, never mind large, thin hulled boats.
    The Italians believe religiously in their 76mm Oto Melaras in the AD/CIWS role – with good reason.

    Mike – that bunching together might be for the camera, but also may be due to C2 restrictions. (Many) small boats require more (nav/LOS radio) control, and since these Boghammar-types use short-ranged RPU-140 unguided rockets, a coordinated barrage is their best and only option. Again, the 57mm and up outrange these RPUs easily.


  14. Jacob permalink
    April 25, 2010 12:09 am

    So what’s the standard anti-speedboat weapon our ships are armed with these days? Phalanx? Helllfires? Hellfires on helicopters? 5-inch guns?

  15. April 24, 2010 11:00 pm

    I seem to recall the navy increasing the amount of ammo that their Phalanx CIWS could carry a few years back but does anyone know how long they can sustain firing against incoming threats? I would imagine a large swarm of speedboats or prolonged volleys of missiles would run them down after not too long.

  16. Chuck Hill permalink
    April 24, 2010 7:45 pm

    What I saw were a lot of rockets fired that did not hit. The target for all the smoke seemed to have sustained relatively little damage. Makes me wonder if there was not an attempt at “movie magic” here with a special effects team setting off explosions by remote control.

  17. Mike Burleson permalink*
    April 24, 2010 4:19 pm

    Naturally, they are bunched together for the camera. Might not be so “close in” in a real shooting war. Whatever the Iranians are up to, they are certainly training for something.

    I am not so sure a “shotgun” weapon is the route to go. Historically Big Ships have needed escort from small ships against other small threats.

    It’s tank versus tank, submarine versus submarine, fighter versus fighter. Why not “speedboat versus speedboat” or at least corvettes which are also shallow water vessels? The new small boat destroyer.

    When I look at this, I see some future David seeking his Goliath. Not making too much put of it. I’m just saying, so we don’t get complacent or over-confident.

  18. D. E. Reddick permalink
    April 24, 2010 3:40 pm


    There is that new 127 mm (5″) munition which resembles a shotshell. It reportedly packs 7,000 thirteen mm (one-half inch diameter) tungsten shot into the shell. It has been issued to the fleet, if I recall matters correctly.

    Shredded Boghammers, anyone? Maybe Iranian Boghammer confetti…

  19. D. E. Reddick permalink
    April 24, 2010 3:30 pm


    Go to the recent link provided in yesterday’s Sea Links comments (but, posted today) and have a look at all of the pictures. In some there are something like 10 or 12 Boghammers all nicely lined up begin their attack. Seems like Warthog (A-10 with 30 mm Gatling) time to me.

  20. April 24, 2010 3:29 pm

    Um. More a case for a proper second battery of 57mm me thinks.

    I don’t know. When you see footage like that you can see from where Mike B. is coming. But I don’t know.

    Given a decent intel picture (RADAR through to the Mk1 Eyeball etc.) and the appropriate weaponary perhaps the Iranians would come worst off. Can the 5″ track targets that fast? Can the helicopters and their missiles get in the air quick enough?

  21. Marcase permalink
    April 24, 2010 2:50 pm

    All I need to say; CIWS feeding time…!

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