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Depending on the national doctrine involved, the control is more or less decentralized. NATO doctrine is concerned with deconfliction, but allowing a fighter pilot the discretion to pursue the final attack. Soviet doctrine, including that of Iraq, was more centralized and less flexible for the pilot.

Today’s battlefield, in many respects, starts as a duel between the IADS and the suppression of enemy air defense campaign against it.

The first operational IADS, with no computer assistance other than in the brains of the defenders, was in the Battle of Britain.[1] The term IADS had not yet been invented, but more important was that the Germans did not see the British system as a system. They saw airfields, radars, etc., but did not grasp that the most critical and vulnerable part were the control centers. Still, it is possible to become overdependent on radar, or make too many assumptions that you are superior to the enemy’s radar.

Some Soviet/Russian SAMs, such as the 2K12 (NATO reporting name SA 6 GAINFUL), have, in addition to radar, electro optical assistance to visual guidance. [3] These were a rude surprise to NATO forces that believed they had destroyed all Serbian radars, or forced them to shut down. Anthony Cordesman observed that a lesson learned from the Kosovo campaign was “the continuing survivability of land based air defenses, and the threat posed by “non cooperative” air defenses that do not emit or deploy in ways that can be easily targeted. According to NATO figures, some 90% of Serbia’s SA 6 assets survived the war, and could fire using pop up radar and/or electro optical techniques at the end of the war.” Further, he observed that modern air and missile power can

achieve very high levels of suppression, [but cannot kill mobile systems or prevent land based

systems from riding out an extensive.”suppression of enemy air defense (SEAD) campaign.

When there was a still a major threat from Soviet Naval Aviation bombers launching long range anti shipping missiles (ASM), there were two rings of fighters, the Outer Air Battle aircraft being F 14 Tomcat interceptors armed with the extremely long range, but relatively unmaneuverable, AIM 54 Phoenix air to air missile. On the theory that “it is better to stop the archer than the arrows”, the Tomcats would try to intercept the bombers outside their maximum missile range. Another ring of fighters would engage any threat aircraft not carrying long range weapons, and probably engage the fast but straight running ASMs.

Ballistic missile defense can have many layers. Israel is exploring acquiring the very long range RIM 161 Standard SM 3 missile intended to engage theater ballistic missiles, and adapting them to a land based role. For critical areas of 15 mile or so radius, the remaining incoming warheads would face MIM 104 Patriot missiles. Final point defense of key installations might use autocannon such as the Oerlikon AHEAD shotgun like pellets, or the developmental Nautilus, formerly the Mobile Tactical High Energy Laser (MTHEL).

Command and control

Today, if the enemy knows where your IADS command is located,
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and it is not mobile and well defended, he will make it a high priority to kill. It becomes a center of gravity of one’s defense. This was not true in the Battle of Britain; the Germans did not fully understand the network of sector stations linked to one another and to Fighter Command, and they did not have the precision guided munitions to achieve sure kill on the command posts if they knew their significance.

Iraqi IADS command posts, however, were some of the first targets of the 1991 Operation Desert Storm attack, although an early warning radar was the very first target. The latter was on the Saudi Iraq border, and was unconventionally attacked by Army AH 64 Apache attack helicopters, led to the target by Air Force Special Operations MH 53 PAVE LOW helicopters with advanced low level navigation.

While Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) such as the E 3 Sentry or Russian Beriev A 50 seem safe in the air, that depends on the sophistication of the opponent. It is unlikely that a fighter can claw through the escorts surrounding an AWACS, but long range air to air missiles that also have an anti radiation missile capability may get through. The Soviet/Russian Vympel R 33/AA 9 AMOS has been considered an “AWACS killer”. AIM 120 AMRAAM may have the same capability toward the other side.

Air defense platforms

Active DCA uses air, sea, and ground based assets that either physically destroy the enemy, using antiaircraft artillery (AAA), surface to air missiles (SAM), and fighter aircraft armed with autocannon or air to air missiles (AAM). Fighters have the greatest range and flexibility, but cannot provide continuous coverage of a protected area.

In the past, certain fighter aircraft were specialized for the aircraft interception mission. Multirole combat aircraft have replaced them, but some interceptors, such as the Russian MiG 25. Interceptors tend to have very high speed, but little maneuverability if they were intended to go against bombers. Their high speed and altitude capability can make them useful as reconnaissance platforms, such as the MiG 25R.

Such systems can be divided by their area of coverage. Fighters and longer range SAMs can cover areas containing numerous surface targets, while point defense of short range SAMs and AAA can protect specific targets. A special case is the protection of high value assets such as AWACS and tankers, which usually involves fighters, and possibly electronic warfare aircraft, escorting them. is one of the key aspects of an IADS. In general, there are a series of concentric circles around a target: the outermost might be assigned to long range fighters, the next to long range SAMs, the next to shorter range fighters, and the innermost to AAA and short range SAMs. These circles may be three dimensional; there may be a rule that while aircraft at high altitude over troop concentrations are not to be engaged by the ground missiles, if they descend below a given altitude, they become targets.

Some IADS will mix systems in an IADS, either accepting a certain probability of fratricide,[5] or relying on identification friend or foe and other electronics to avoid fratricide. Both air force and air defense force [Egyptian] commanders confirmed that, while it was an operational goal to use the MiG 21 as the first force to engage enemy aircraft at maximum range,
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it also was tactical doctrine for the interceptors to fight within the missile belt and continue harrying attacking forces all the way to their targets. They agreed that losses from friendly missiles were so relatively small that the tactics of using both interceptors and missiles in the same airspace was operationally sound and militarily effective against the offensive formations.[6]

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