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Soviet Missles Down U.S. Helicopter - Has the War Just Escalated?

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posted on Feb, 13 2007 @ 12:51 AM
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"Syria has delivered Russian-made SA-18 "Grouse" Igla 9K38 anti-air missiles to Lebanese Hezballah

February 12, 2007, 11:02 PM (GMT+02:00)
Sophisticated SA-18 “Grouse” Igla 9K38 anti-air missile


Sophisticated SA-18 “Grouse” Igla 9K38 anti-air missile


Moscow guaranteed the shoulder-carried SA-18 “Grouse” Igla 9K38 was sold to Damascus under the strict prohibition of its transfer to Hizballah, DEBKAfile notes. The pledge was given to the US and personally by Russian president Vladimir Putin to Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert.

A Lebanese army source says the advanced missile consignment may have been concealed in the Beqaa valley of Lebanon near the Syrian border for use by Hizballah, which intends to significantly increase its anti-aircraft capabilities for any future war with Israel.

The Grouse is a surface-air heat-seeking missile designed to shoot down low-flying planes and helicopters at a range of up to 5,200 meters and altitude of 3,500 meters.

The missile employs an IR guidance system. It offers better protection against electro-optical jammers. According to the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), the SA-18 probability of kill against an unprotected fighter is estimated at 30-48%, and the use of IRCM jammers only degrades this to 24-30%."

*www.debka.com...

"Although Saddam Hussein's Iraq was awash in 1960s Soviet-era SA-7 Grail MANPADS, those missiles likely would have been used up by now. If these latest attacks do involve a MANPADS, it probably was smuggled in from a neighboring country. Pakistan manufactures the Anza, its version of the Chinese copy of the SA-7. The use of newer MANPADS also is possible, including the modern SA-18 Grouse -- available from the Russian arms exporter Rosoboronexport. A combination of SA-18s, -16s and -14s would be available from Jordan, Iran or Syria, although the latter two doubtfully would be supplying Sunni insurgents, which have taken credit for the attacks thus far. Ironically, along with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, Iran also has the U.S. FIM-92A Stinger."

*www.stratfor.com Requires paid subscription, but this is where the article is located.






If this is all true, we are in for a bumpy ride folks.




posted on Feb, 13 2007 @ 12:53 AM
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Stratfor Article

"Summary

The crash of a U.S. Marine Corps CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter, likely due to enemy fire, near Baghdad on Feb. 7 marks the fifth U.S. helicopter-downing in three weeks -- and represents an enormous spike in incidents since the 2003 invasion.

Analysis

A U.S. Marine Corps CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter crashed Feb. 7 some 20 miles northwest of Baghdad near the Iraqi town of Taji under circumstances that reportedly included heavy machinegun fire, if not more powerful weapons. More than 50 U.S. helicopters have been lost since the 2003 invasion, about half succumbing to hostile fire, and this is not the first time the number of losses has spiked. The recent trend, however, is significant in that it suggests that a further increase in losses would not be attributable solely to the jump in traffic resulting from the coming troop surge.

Before the Feb. 7 crash, the U.S. military had lost four helicopters to militant attack in the weeks since Jan. 20, when a missile and gunfire brought down a UH-60 Blackhawk near Diyala. On Jan. 23, an Army Blackwater OH-6A crashed after taking gunfire and then hitting a power line. Five days later, gunfire brought down an Army AH-64 Apache near An Najaf, and on Feb. 2 another Apache crashed near Salah ad Din after a missile attack.



A helicopter is a precarious machine, and even the best can crash under perfectly normal conditions. Because of their limited flight envelope, they are inherently vulnerable to ground fire. In fact, given the scale of flight operations in Iraq, it is surprising that the number of helicopter losses has consistently been so low for so long.

The U.S. coalition in Iraq relies heavily on helicopters, and with the coming troop surge, air traffic could very well be on the rise in and around Baghdad. Overall, helicopters have proven to be faster and safer than movement over distance on the ground. High-ranking officers and other important officials are frequent passengers. (The casualties of the Jan. 20 crash included two sergeant majors, a lieutenant colonel and two colonels.) But more important, helicopters provide firepower and mobility, not to mention excellent vantage, all of which are useful in the urban battlefield -- an area where both their effectiveness and vulnerability increases.

The U.S. military is tight-lipped about helicopter crashes -- and justifiably so. It is heavily reliant on these aircraft, even more so than the Soviet Union was in Afghanistan in the 1970s, when CIA-supplied FIM-92A Stinger missiles hindered Red Army operations. Although helicopters are a known vulnerability, they were able to operate relatively unhindered for the first four years of the war. They now have hit their first major snag.

The Feb. 2 incident is particularly concerning to the military because it suggests the attackers knew in advance how the pilots would react. Flying as a pair, one Apache took ground fire and proceeded to base. His wingman broke from the formation to engage the source of the gunfire -- to cover his wingman's escape and hopefully destroy the emplacement. But as he flashed the heat of his engine toward a second position, militants succeeded in bringing the aircraft down with a missile."

(continued...)

[edit on 13-2-2007 by Mindzi]



posted on Feb, 13 2007 @ 12:54 AM
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Startfor Article Continued

"Little is known about the missile, or others that might have been involved. A partially blacked-out video of the incident suggests the missile was not the standard man-portable air-defense system (MANPADS). From what can be gleaned from the video, the weapon appears too short to conceal the long cylindrical tube of any modern MANPADS, though it could have hidden any number of anti-tank guided missiles. The point in flight at which the Apache was brought down, however, suggests a heat-seeking weapon was used.

Although Saddam Hussein's Iraq was awash in 1960s Soviet-era SA-7 Grail MANPADS, those missiles likely would have been used up by now. If these latest attacks do involve a MANPADS, it probably was smuggled in from a neighboring country. Pakistan manufactures the Anza, its version of the Chinese copy of the SA-7. The use of newer MANPADS also is possible, including the modern SA-18 Grouse -- available from the Russian arms exporter Rosoboronexport. A combination of SA-18s, -16s and -14s would be available from Jordan, Iran or Syria, although the latter two doubtfully would be supplying Sunni insurgents, which have taken credit for the attacks thus far. Ironically, along with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, Iran also has the U.S. FIM-92A Stinger.

Given the dramatic increase in successful downings, either the militants have identified a weakness in U.S. tactics, techniques and procedures (TTP) or they have acquired a new tool. This last scenario seems the likeliest, since four years is more than enough time to have picked apart U.S. standard operating procedures. What is clear is that a new offensive aimed at hindering U.S. helicopter mobility is under way.

Although the U.S. military has indicated that the Feb. 7 incident did not involve hostile fire, an al Qaeda-linked Sunni insurgent group promised to release a video to prove its claim that an attack did take place. This is not an empty claim, given that insurgents have recorded several of the incidents, not only for public relations purposes but also to examine U.S. standard operating procedures and immediate action practices.

The latest crash raises flags, however, because ostensibly the TTP already had been adjusted to deal with this new threat -- which the U.S. military has a much more solid handle on than it is willing to admit. Whether it will be able to effectively counter the threat, however, is the question. The insurgency does not yet have anywhere near the capacity to completely block helicopter movement, though it can impose increasing costs on the helicopters. That friction, if sustained, could have a substantial impact on U.S. operations.

The United States will continue to use helicopters regardless of these attacks, since they are essential to the continued conduct of operations in Iraq. Moreover, they will continue to be safer and faster than ground transportation. Should this offensive against U.S. helicopters continue, the United States will further alter its TTP. Insurgents will then counter with changes in their own TTP, much like the back-and-forth over improvised explosive devices in the last several years. Whenever the United States finds an effective defense, the insurgents will find a new weakness."

* www.stratfor.com

[edit on 13-2-2007 by Mindzi]



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