Sunday, July 30, 2006

 

#1: Did Hanit fire the chaff?

This is a very simple question related to the current Israel attack on Lebanon (or Hezbolla). As we all know, Hezbolla (or Iranians) fired two missiles at the Israely corvette Ahi-Hanit and scored one hit. This is a highly unusual result, as
Therefore, one of the two statements must be true:
  1. Missile defense on Hanit was disabled and the crew asleep at the wheel
  2. Modern missile defense is not very efficient against moderately obsolete antiship missiles
The modern missile defense consists of three components:
Note that there is a good reason sometimes to disable the short-range gun, as it can accidentally fire on one's own aircrafts. There is a weak reason to disable the chaff - for example, if a helicopter tries to land on the ship. I do not know of any reason to disable the ECM.

The actual choice between 1 and 2 above is very interesting -- and affects the world -- since if the second option is true, and Iran has missiles that score 50% hit ratio on the modern ships, its threat to close the Hormuz Straits is very real, and Iran thus is as untouchable as if it had nuclear weaponry.

While the actual positions of the control switches on the Hanit will not be known for long time, if ever -- except by the various spooks -- there is a question that allows us to select one of the options above and answer to which is currently most likely known to people without security clearances:

Did Hanit fire the chaff?
Any operator of a civilian radar in the vicinity should theoretically know if the Hanit actually fired the chaff. If it did, the missile defense was activated, and Hezbolla was good. If it did not, the missile defenses were down and Hezbolla was lucky - and we here in the US can continue to sleep well.

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