Military officers sometimes describe a potential opponent in terms of intentions and capabilities. I am not trying here to paint a picture of Iran as an actual threat. This arms sale demonstrates, however, that advanced Soviet weaponry is being sold to other nations. As we witnessed when Iraq invaded Kuwait, we may have no warning time in future crises. It is imperative, I believe, that our naval forces be capable of defending against advanced antiship missiles. And this capability must exist in the fleet, and not just in some laboratory.
These articles deserve our attention. The Proceedings magazine is a leading professional journal read by senior naval leaders worldwide; it has a circulation of more than 100,000 and the magazine estimates that nearly half a million people read the magazine each month. Mr. Friedman is the author of the Naval Institute Guide to World Naval Weapons Systems and he has testified before the Armed Services Committee.
The issue of how to fund improvements in air-defense for our naval forces will continue to be an issue in the future. I am pleased to report that the conference bill on the defense authorization for fiscal year 1993 funds four Aegis guided-missile destroyers and provides increased funding for ship self-defense capabilities for ships which do not have the Aegis system.
Mr. President, I ask that two items be printed in the Record. The first is an excerpt from the article by Norman Friedman which appeared in the September 1992 issue of Proceedings, and the second is the article by Mr. Friedman printed in the October issue.
The material follows:
During the August 1992 Russian aircraft industry's major show in Moscow, the full range of air-to-surface missiles was on display, together with new air-to-air and even surface-to-surface weapons. All were for sale, and last month's sales to China and Iran show just how widely some of these weapons are likely to be deployed. The reported prices suggest that, at least for now, the Russians can undersell all Western suppliers.
The Russians have been increasingly forthcoming, and by late 1991, they had come close to revealing details of nearly all the missiles for which NATO had assigned designations. The Moscow show went much farther. It provided the sort of detail common in Western military advertising, but heretofore available in the West only in publications classified `Secret' or above,
It now appears that Western intelligence missed quite a few tactical programs.
Nothing in what follows should be read as an attempt to revive the old Soviet threat. The degree to which a country's arsenal presents a threat depends both on its politics and on its ability (including its economic ability) to support hostilities, and the Russia of late-1992 clearly is not a threat to the West. The Moscow show does, however, demonstrate quite clearly that Russia is a viable competitor in the international arms market. At least some of the weapons on display will be sold to Third World countries unfriendly to us, and the United States cannot reasonably try to prevent such sales. When the Russians renounced Communism and open hostility, we invited them into the world trade system. Like it or not, that system includes the arms trade. After all, the United States is part of it.
It would be tempting to imagine that only the Russians' second- or third-rate equipment will appear in hostile hands. This was true in the past; the old Soviets were not all that willing to export their best equipment, partly for fear that their erstwhile clients would change sides, or that key details would leak out. They manufactured special export versions of their equipment--all with the suffix E. But the point of that secrecy was that one day the first-line equipment would face the West. To the extent that President Boris Yeltsin's Russia is unlikely to fight the West, inhibitions against exports are much weaker. Whoever has the cash will get excellent equipment.
From a naval point of view, probably the most spectacular--and the most alarming--weapon on display was an antiship version of the AS-16 air-to-surface `aero-ballistic' missile, previously counted as a strategic weapon because it is the Russian equivalent of the U.S. Air Force's short-range attack missile (SRAM), which used to be carried by B-52s. The AS-16 may well be the chosen successor to those nightmare weapons of the 1970s and 1980s, the AS-4 and AS-6. Like them, it can be carried by Backfire bombers, just like the ones purchased by Iran. Like the earlier missiles, the AS-16 flies a high trajectory with a terminal dive, making the missile particularly difficult to shoot down. Unlike them, more can be carried on an internal rotary launcher.
According to the brochure release in Moscow, the missile carries a 330-pound warhead to a range of 150 kilometers (about 90 nautical miles) against cruisers at speeds of up to Mach 5. Its range is much shorter when used against destroyers and fast attack boats. After it dropped, the missile climbs steeply to assume a ballistic path. It uses inertial mid-course guidance, with a millimeter-wave active radar terminal seeker. Launch weight is up to 1,200 kilograms (about 2,600 pounds). Maximum range is associated with a launch altitude of 20,000 meters (about 65,600 feet).
The published drawing of the missile's flight path shows a straight run toward the predicted target position, with the missile maneuvering only in its final approach to compensate for target motion. True inertial guidance, however, would probably permit missile maneuvers in flight, so that the launching bomber would not have to fly directly toward the target. The warhead is considerably smaller than those of earlier antiship missiles, but the bomber carries many AS-16s. The logic may well have been that one or two AS-4s could be shot down, but that many of the more numerous AS-16s would get through and destroy a target by cumulative damage. The sheer speed of the missile adds considerable kinetic energy to the warhead. It is also possible that the Russians believe that more modern explosives will make up much of the difference.
There is one important divergence from earlier practice--the AS-16 uses solid propellant, while the AS-4, -6, and their predecessors use liquid. The liquid adds to the effect of the shaped-charge warhead, but solid fuel is safer and easier to handle. Future solid-fuel rockets may sue their fuel to add to explosive effect, but that is unlikely thus far.
Clearly such a missile is very difficult to defeat. It arrives at a steep angle, and its seeker may be quite difficult to detect and jam (the higher the frequency, the more range for frequency agility to avoid jamming). If the best antidote to the high-flying AS-4/6 was to kill the archer before he fired, that is at least as true of AS-16.
With the decline of the Cold War, there was a general belief that the outer air battle--the battle against the bomber outside of its own missile range--was finished as a major issue. It was seen as the best defense against the threat posed by the Soviet naval air arm, but surely those aircraft would no longer be a major enemy. The real problem of the future, planners believed, would be a Third World fighter-bomber or diesel-electric submarine, and these perceptions doomed the F-14D and the Phoenix missile successor--the advanced air-to-air missile (AAAM).
Now the Iranians have shown that a Third World country can buy heavy Russian bombers, and the Moscow Air Show may have given us a hint of what they will carry. For years, analysts have wondered why no AS-4/6 successor had appeared. They suspected that both missiles were being improved, with emphasis on guidance and warhead technology. Perhaps the correct answer was that the Soviets were busy with the AS-16. It may have been significant that, although the full range of tactical air-to-surface weapons was on display, the AS-4 and -6 were not. One might suspect that, to the extent that the AS-6 is part of a Backfire export package, it would be prominently displayed, especially since other, older missiles were shown. Incidentally, the AS-6 is on display in Moscow--at the air museum.
The AS-16 has another unwelcome implication. In the past, although clearly it paid to destroy bombers rather than missiles, it could be argued that shooting down a single bomber eliminated no more than two antiship missiles, A single Backfire, for example, carries two AS-6s. But the alternative is a pair of rotary launchers carrying many more AS-16s. Moreover, because the missiles fly a predominantly inertial path, the bomber need not lock them on before it fires. The flight path implies that the bomber can fire from relatively low latitude, below the target's radar horizon, on the basis of external targeting data. That might be the significance of the Iranian purchase of the maritime patrol version of the An-72 Coaler, mentioned in this column last month.
A single Backfire, then, now can launch a mass missile attack on a battle group. Shooting it down long before it can fire becomes a higher, not a lower, priority. From the point of view of a Third World country faced with U.S. naval air power, the Backfire/AS-16 combination must be enormously attractive. The
effect of the Russian political revolution is that the old criterion of client-hood has been replaced by a much simpler one: cold cash.
In particular, the F-14 versus F/A-18 issue may be reopened. In very realistic Third World scenarios, the fleet's ability to fight an outer air battle becomes essential; it also becomes more difficult. In the past, it was assumed that the fleet would arrive after war had been declared, i.e., after aircraft in Soviet markings were fair game. The only problem was technical: the F-14s had to get far enough out fast enough to intercept beyond the AS-4's range. Now scenarios are likely to be much more ambiguous; the Backfires will be fair game only as they launch their weapons. We will still want to intercept them; indeed, our interceptors will have to be fast enough to reach them in time and then to escort them until they either turn away or fire their first few weapons. Such considerations make the F/A-18's endurance a much more important questions than might have seemed to be the case only a few months ago.
There were numerous revelations. A sketch of what must be the SS-N-22 surface-to-surface missile (which has never been displayed before) showed it not only on-board a destroyer, but also in a coast-defense cannister and on a submarine. The latter is the real surprise: no submarine launch platform has ever been named. Another surprise was the name of the design organization: the old Chelomei OKB (now called NPO Mashinostroeniya), the bureau that designed the big-ship missiles like the SS-N-2, -12, and -19. In the past, the SS-N-22 has been considered a sort of super-Styx, a longer-range fire-and-forget weapon. Chelomei specialized in weapons requiring targeting assistance, and providing their surface platforms with assistance in the form of a radar-video data link. As the old Soviet Union has become more porous, much more information about existing systems has surfaced. Coincidentally, at the same time that the poster of SS-N-22 named the Chelomei bureau as originator, it became clear that the missile has a video data link just like its larger brothers.
A model of the new SS-N-25 shows a missile looking like Harpoon. The same weapon was displayed as an air-to-surface weapon. The SS-N-25 is important because it may mark a shift away from earlier heavy missiles, which small attack craft cannot carry in numbers. The SS-N-22 is carried in a close-fitting cannister. In contrast, the Styx is carried in a massive hanger; although its wings fold, its tail does not. Examination of the Styx on board ex-East German Tarantul missile boats reveals just how loosely the missile is carried within its launcher; a U.S. crewman estimated that each launcher could accommodate six Harpoons.
Many of the world's navies currently carry Styx missiles, generally four to a boat. Many of the Styx operators cannot hope to buy Harpoon or Exocet. If the SS-N-25 is offered as a replacement, the number of weapons will probably at least double, and any such increase greatly complicates defense, which is quite aside from the likelihood that SS-N-25 matches Harpoon's sea-skimming capability. The Russians have said that they hope to begin marketing this missile in 1993.
The other current Russian antiship missile, the SS-N-19, was not on display, which suggests that it is not for sale (although the Chinese seem to have bought a ship designed to carry it, the incomplete carrier Varyag. The Chelomei bureau did display submarine and surface ship vertical launch tubes, but they did not seem linked to any particular weapon.
Virtually all the standard tactical air-to-surface missile on display were credited with antiship capability; in some cases there were special antiship versions. This may reflect an interesting marketing perception. Air shows rarely emphasize naval weapons, and air-to-surface missiles are much more often intended to attack ground targets. The Russians may well have realized that, to the likely Third World purchasers, warships--particularly U.S. warships--may be extremely important targets. After all, for many years, the U.S. Navy has emphasized that it is the main means of projecting our power. The objects of projection presumably are aware of our views.
New air-to-surface weapons on display included an antiship rocket-ramjet shown for the first time at Minsk earlier this year. As in the case of the AS-16, rocket-ramjet propulsion presumably greatly increases missile speed and greatly complicates defense. At Minsk the new weapon was shown under an Su-27K carrier attack bomber, the type the Chinese reportedly are buying for their new carrier. The AS-17 is a smaller version of the same airframe (no NATO reporting designation for the new missile has been announced).
There were also new-generation air-to-air weapons, including the Russian equivalent of the U.S. advanced medium-range air-to-air missile (AMRAAM), with unusual lattice fins. Several missiles were new, and some showed previously unknown active radar-guidance modes. The newer naval surface-to-air missiles were also on display: SA-N-6, -7, and -9. Displays of the antiaircraft weapons included more than just the missiles themselves; performance limits were listed and models of fire control spaces and below-decks launchers also were on display.
New ASW weapons also were displayed. One artist's concept
showed a lightweight rocket torpedo, the APR-2E, designed for carriage on board helicopters. It is a small-caliber (350-mm., or about 14 inches) weapon that can dive to 600 meters (2,000 feet), and attain speeds up to 63 knots. In the past, Russian helicopters have carried quite conventional 45-cm (18-inch) homing torpedoes; there has not been a whisper of anything like a Russian Mk-50. Such a weapon might also be used as a warhead for weapons like SS-N-15 and -16. Once again, the `E' in the designation almost certainly means export version, not the fifth version of a long-existing program. The last known Russian rocket torpedo was a RAT-52 (in its case the number does indicate the year), a stand-off antiship weapon predating the big missiles. It may survive, barely, in China.
We are beginning to understand how the systems work, and how Russian thinking has differed from (and sometimes corresponded to) our own. For example, it is becoming possible to understand the Russians' shipboard command-and-control systems, their equivalents to our Navy tactical data system, combat data system, and Link 11.
Also on display were a variety of antiradar missiles, both air-to-surface and air-to-air. The Russians were not cagey; they knew their prospective clients, and described one missile explicitly as anti-AWACS (U.S. Air Force E-3 airborne warning and control system) and another as anti-Patriot--the air defense missile.
The anti-AWACS missile is a big ramjet (launch weight 600 kilograms--about 1,320 pounds) with a passive-active seeker, so that it can guide even if the target radar has been shut down; maximum speed is 1,000 meters per second (1,940 knots), and range is about 200 kilometers (108 nautical miles). As illustrated, it appears similar to--although longer than--the new AS-17 (Kh-32) air-to-surface antiradar missile.
The new weapon is likely to be quite significant. United States AWACS aircraft are often sent abroad to monitor evolving and dangerous situations. In such roles, they cannot operate with fighter escorts of any kind, since the host countries almost certainly will not permit such combat aircraft to operate from their soil. They are employed in very small numbers, and the Gulf War has shown any prospective enemy just how important they are. It seems obvious, at least to the Russian advertisers, that the ability to eliminate this problem at the outbreak of war will be quite attractive.
It seems likely that the new missile homes best on shorter-wave radars, like the AWACS' S-band APY-1/2. It may not be nearly as effective against the longer-wave radar of the E-2C. (For many years, Grumman claimed that the longer-wave set was relatively immune to antiradiation missile [ARM] attack.) The U.S. Navy is considering a new-generation airborne early warning airplane using a phased-array antenna. Like the AWACS, it would probably have to operate at higher frequency than does the E-2C radar. It, too, might well be susceptible to attack by an antiradar missile of the new type.
Air-to-air antiradiation missiles are not a new idea; they were seriously considered in the 1970s as a counter to the then-new Soviet MiG-25 Foxbat. They were abandoned because they are difficult to build, and because shutting down the target radar was likely to be an effect countermeasure. The Russians have apparently solved that problem by combining an active radar seeker with the passive ARM seeker. No Western air-to-air ARM currently exists.
Air-to-surface ARMs are, of course, well known, and the Russians distributed a description of a missile intended to attack Patriot radars. It has a range of up to 160 kilometers (86 nautical miles) and a maximum speed of Mach 3.6. Such weapons are less terrifying than the air-to-air missile, because the counter-measures are well known, and also because the missile site can probably shoot down the incoming weapon, which, after all, follows a very well-defined path.
It is now becoming clearer than many Russian shipboard antiship missiles have antiradar variants. That certainly includes
the SS-N-12, -19, and -22, and probably the SS-N-9. In the case of the SS-N-19, Russian officers have been quite open: the primary target was the Aegis radar. As in the case of Patriot, Aegis was designed to shoot down just such missiles, so the fact that they would home on its emissions does not raise additional problems. It does mean that these missiles would not announce their presence by their own emissions. It may be that the key to surviving massive attacks of this sort is to use different Aegis radars in sequence, all the ships sharing a common tactical picture and handing off missile control. Such operation is certainly within the possibilities presented by the Aegis system.
Another air-to-surface weapon was almost certainly a conventionally armed variant of the AS-15/SS-N-21 subsonic cruise missile (`Tomahawkski'). Guidance techniques included terrain comparison (TerCom) and space-correction (using the Global Positioning System, or GLONASS--the Russian equivalent). This missile may have a naval significance. Presumably the SS-N-21s have been withdrawn as part of the Bush-Yeltsin agreement to eliminate tactical nuclear weapons at sea (nuclear Tomahawk went the same way). Also, presumably, a nonnuclear variant of the SS-N-21 is in the works, paralleling the nonnuclear AS-15 version. It will be a viable strike weapon. An anti-ship version also may be under development.
It should be stressed that these descriptions come from sales brochures available at the Moscow Air Show. It is not clear how many of the missiles actually exist and how many are merely plans, but all of them are being actively promoted. Several countries have either brought or are buying advanced Russian weapons, and not all of them are long-time Soviet clients. Hard cash is what the Russian aerospace industry now needs, and it is offering some very impressive equipment at low prices. U.S. manufacturers may argue that our own support is far better, and that we are probably also better at subtleties such as electronic counter-countermeasures. The Russian weapons are certainly far beyond what some of our Western competitors are selling, however, and, like our competitors, the Russians seem unlikely to impose any sort of political litmus test on the buyer.
These weapons are above all naval developments, because the U.S. Navy continues to be the principal means by which the United States enforces its presence abroad. They are what we are likely to meet in Third World waters in the next decade or so. The end of the Cold War has made equipment available wholesale, without political dickering. Mass demobilization has made trained personnel available on a similar scale. Thus money can equal instant force structure. Strategic warning time can shrink from decades to months.
We are already seeing such developments on a very small scale in the civil wars in the southern part of what used to be the Soviet Union. Armenians and Azeris fighting over Azherbaizhan now have their own miniature air forces, obtained by paying Russian pilots to desert with their own aircraft (an Su-25 Frogfoot on one side, two Mi-24 Hinds on the other).
None of this is particularly new. The Royal Navy had to demobilize after the Napoleonic Wars, and many of its officers went on the beach, on half-pay; they were encouraged to serve in other navies. This kept them employed, reduced pressure on the Admiralty to accept officers for the few remaining billets, and also insured that the Royal Navy would continue to enjoy active combat experience.
Full details of the newly revealed weapons and of the related systems will be included in the next edition of the Naval Institute Guide to World Naval Weapons Systems, which will be published in September 1993.
In July, the Russian aircraft industry made its largest sale to date--a $2.5 billion deal with Iran. The sale included 12 Tu-22M Backfires, the first of their kind to be exported anywhere, plus examples of a new type of maritime reconnaissance aircraft, a variant of the An-72. The package also included 24 MiG-31 interceptors (with 2 Mainstay airborne radar-control aircraft), 48 MiG-29 air-superiority fighters, and 24 MiG-27 ground-attack fighters, plus a variety of surface-to-air missile batteries (long-range, fixed-site SA-5s and SA-11 and SA-13 mobile weapons). Unlike the bargain-basement prices described in an earlier column, these include post-sale service and spare parts. Even on that basis, the sale is still a considerable bargain.
The Russians have also agreed to help rehabilitate the large fleet of ex-Iraqi aircraft that fell into Iranian hands during the Gulf War. Moreover, the combination of SA-5 long-range missiles, interceptors, and airborne early-warning radar aircraft suggests that Iran is buying a Russian-style integrated air defense system, a package that would go considerably beyond the $2.5 billion.
Although not included in the announced package, the Backfire deal almost certainly includes AS-6 antiship missiles. They are the bomber's standard armament; the alternative modular bomb-bay for gravity bombs seems a poor way to use so expensive an airplane. After all, the Soviets provided air-to-surface antiship missiles (AS-1 and AS-5) when they sold Badgers--the Backfire's predecessor--to Egypt and Indonesia.
The only alternative to the Backfire/AS-6 package currently on offer is the Chinese B-6 (Badger)/C601 (Silkworm) combination. Thus far it has been exported only to Iraq, and the aircraft involved were destroyed during the Gulf War. In any case, this combination falls far short of the Backfire/AS-6 combination; the C601 is comparable to the U.S. Harpoon in range, though it carries a much larger warhead.
The AS-6 is a fast, steep-diving missile, that can be fired from well beyond a battle group's antiaircraft envelope; it was in part responsible for stimulating intense U.S. Navy interest in what came to be called the outer air battle. Given the geography of the Persian Gulf, the AS-6 could be launched at a target anywhere in the Gulf by an Iranian Backfire flying in its own air space. No Gulf navy has anything remotely like the sort of long-range defensive missile required to provide defense in depth against such a weapon. The only point defense missiles currently in use in any Gulf navy are the French Crotale and Mistral.
The An-72 radar-control variant aircraft adds a new twist. It is intended to search electro-optically, and data-link its pictures down to a command center that would send in the Backfires. Such search techniques are limited in range, and weather can
negate them altogether. But they are passive, and thus do not alert the potential target. Perhaps the Mainstays are intended to provide initial target detection using their big long-range radars, cuing the An-72's. Electro-optical searches can be quite accurate, but the searcher must know its position very precisely; the An-72's will have inertial navigation systems.
The Russian aircraft industry has long shown a flair for advertising and for export sales apparently lacking in the Russian naval industry. For example, it has exhibited its wares at the main Western air shows. Paris and Farnborough, and held its own big Moscow air show last month. As a consequence, Western understanding of Russian aircraft and air-launched missiles is substantially better than Western knowledge of the corresponding shipborne weapons.
All of this suggests that the Backfire/An-72/AS-6 combination will be marketed aggressively. It will be attractive, if only because it promises Third World countries a way of countering the favored U.S. means of power projection, the carrier battle group. The U.S. literature on carrier battle group air defense is itself a sort of advertisement for this product.
U.S. readers should remember that most Third World regimes are now unhappily aware that there is no longer any counter-balance to U.S. military pressure. U.S. professions of totally peaceful intent or policy statements limiting us to working within the United Nations, will not affect this perception. To most regimes, the United States is profoundly subversive force, pressing upon them the terrifying concept of democracy. In the past, the Russians provided such regimes with two means of resisting U.S. political pressure. One was to side with the United States against the Russians, and thus to receive support. The other was to side with the Russians and thus receive direct military insurance (albeit at a high cost in local political control).
Now both possibilities have melted away. The crushing defeat of Iraq showed clearly that even before their Union dissolved, the Russians no longer had the heart to protect their former client states. With the Cold War buried, strategic position had lost much of its attraction. The Russians are most unlikely to recover quickly enough to provide one, whatever the future of their current revolution.
For its part, the United States has very real reasons to want to be able to influence events in many Third World countries. It is most unlikely to undertake the democratic crusade some of its citizens favor (and many regimes fear), but the United States economy is inescapably tied to that of the Third World. Third World eruptions often affect this country directly, not least in creating waves of refugees.
There cannot be any legitimate restriction on sales of the Backfire/AS-6 combination. The main effect of the collapse of Soviet ideology is that it will surely be offered on a nonideological basis. The total price of the Iranian deal suggests that the bombers went for well under $100 million each, an excellent price.
Such sales should change our own perception of the likely post-Cold War naval air threat. In the past, it was generally assumed that the attackers would be limited to short-range standoff missiles such as Exocet and Harpoon, so that they would have to come within the effective range of SM-2 missiles. It seemed that the outer air battle, the attempt to shoot down the bombers before they could drop their missiles, was almost an obsolete idea, limited to fighting the one least-likely enemy--the former Soviet Union. Because of this, not only was the F-14D cancelled, but also the program to develop a Phoenix successor--the advanced air-to-air missile (AAAM). The much shorter range F/A-18 and advanced medium-range air-to-air missile (AMRAAM) combination seemed to offer enough range.
After all, who but the ex-Soviets would challenge us with exotica such as Backfires and long-range antiship missiles?
Now we have a possible answer. The Iranians may not consider our carriers the likely targets of their weapons, but it now seems clearer that they want to be able to dominate the Persian Gulf. The Backfires and the new Kilo-class submarines announce that intention. Moreover, the Backfire sale is likely to be repeated elsewhere.
Now it may seen rather premature to have dispensed with the outer air battle and its new air-to-air missile.