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Air Defense: Defending Dimona
   Next Article → CHAD: It's Too Quiet
November 13, 2007: Last week, Israel moved a Patriot anti-aircraft missile battery to its nuclear research center at Dimona, in the Negev desert. Israel fears a Syrian attack on Dimona, as revenge for the September 6 Israeli attack on a Syrian nuclear research facility. Considering the strength of Israeli air defenses, and the sorry state of the Syrian air force, such an attack would be unlikely. But Syria has dozens of ballistic missiles that could make the trip. The only possible defense is anti-missile missiles. Israel is supposed to be receiving the U.S. PAC-3 anti-missile missile for the Patriot, but it is not known if Israel has it yet. Israel does have the older Patriot PAC-2 anti-missile missiles. While the PAC-3 missiles are more effective, their range is only 20 kilometers. But that's large enough to cover the Dimona research center and the nearby town of Dimona (and its 33,000 residents.)

 

Syria would be taking a big risk by attacking Dimona. Israel could easily respond with an air campaign that would destroy most of Syria's air force and many of its tanks and other military equipment. That said, Syria has done dumb things like this before.

Next Article → CHAD: It's Too Quiet
  

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displacedjim       11/13/2007 11:30:12 AM
PAC-3 or not, Israel's Arrows can cover it.
 
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Shirrush       12/28/2007 4:00:15 AM
Not completely. Arrow is meant for use against MRBM/IRBM's, and Syria can attempt to take it out with SRBM's in a counter-battery saturation attack. Syria has many "artillery" rockets that can reach Dimona and/or the nearby IDF/AF air defense perimeter. The flat, paraballistic trajectory of an SS-26 Iskander (or the rather similar Iranian-Chinese Fateh-110 missile) could probably do the job.
I am not sure that even the PAC-3 can deal with the smaller, maneuvering rockets.

 
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displacedjim       12/28/2007 9:53:31 AM
True, they do have several different long-range rockets.  I don't think they have any SS-26, but they do have quite a few other ballistic missiles and rockets.  I haven't checked a map, but I believe youi if you say they are within range of the facility.  Whether the rockets have the accuracy to actually be likely to damage the reactor seems somewhat questionable to me, but as you suggest if they unload everything I'm sure they could break something important.  Also the incoming innacurate rockets probably still look like viable threats to the defenses, thus making it more likely the accurate ones could slip through during an intense barrage.
 
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dwightlooi       12/28/2007 1:08:34 PM

Not completely. Arrow is meant for use against MRBM/IRBM's, and Syria can attempt to take it out with SRBM's in a counter-battery saturation attack. Syria has many "artillery" rockets that can reach Dimona and/or the nearby IDF/AF air defense perimeter. The flat, paraballistic trajectory of an SS-26 Iskander (or the rather similar Iranian-Chinese Fateh-110 missile) could probably do the job.
I am not sure that even the PAC-3 can deal with the smaller, maneuvering rockets.


First of all, artillery rockets are not "maneuverable". If they are maneuverable they are no longer rockets but missiles. Regardless, no surface to surface missile can outmaneuver a PAC-3. A free falling warhead or missile with aerodynamic controls plunging through the thin upper atmosphere cannot out maneuver an interceptor under boost with lateral divert control thrusters.

Secondly, a common mischaracterization of the PAC-3 is that it is somehow short ranged (15~25km). Well, in a way it is, but so is the PAC-2 and other missiles like the S-300 when used in the ballistic missile defense role. To hit a fighter flying at 6km altitude 100km away is one thing, to climb nearly vertically and hit something 24km up is another. Take a 200km SAM and use it as a BMD weapon and it has a coverage radius of roughly 40km. When used against aircrafts, the PAC-3 is a much longer ranged weapon. The difference between the PAC-3 and the other SAMs with BMD capability -- PAC-2, S-300, S-400, etc -- is that it is designed to be accurate enough to actually ram the target. This is made possible by the extremely high resolution millimeter wave active radar seeker and the inclusion of lateral thrusters for fast, precise and authoritative lateral control at high altitudes. Ramming the target is necessary for an effective kill because while exploding a warhead 0.5~3 m from the target will not pulverize it. Think of ballistic warheads and missiles as 1 ton Volkswagens falling straight out of the sky at a near vertical angle. Put a a few dozen sharpnel holes it it or even tear it into two or three pieces, and the stuff still falls on you! In GWI, we have all seen the results. >90% interception rates of SCUDs by PAC-2 batteries. <10% effective kills. The SCUDs still fall it one mangled piece or a few within or near city limits. The PAC-3 is designed to ensure that the ballistic missiles and/or warheads intercepted are turned to dust.

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Shirrush    Thanks dwightlooi.   12/31/2007 2:16:13 PM
For the PAC-3 sales pitch. I think Israel is going to buy it, although it'd be nicer for us to purchase a license to produce it and a permission to tweak it. As a A2A boost-phase interceptor under a F-15I's wing, it's also going to be perfect.
The problem is that it seems that the MoD has made the decision not to purchase a tactical offensive system, the Stryker, and to go instead for that strategic defensive one. I'm not too sure it's the right one.
 
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