Air Defense: Oman On The Down Low

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October 28, 2011: The Persian Gulf state of Oman is buying 18 American Avenger anti-aircraft systems, as well as 266 Stinger anti-aircraft missiles for them. Also being purchased are 290 SLAMRAAM (ground launched AMRAAM air-to-air missiles) and twenty Hummers to serve as launchers. A Sentinel radar system is being bought to support the SLAMRAAMs.

Avengers are hummers with a turret mounted on the back. The turret contains two missile pods (each containing four Stinger anti-aircraft missiles). Under one pod there is an M3P .50 caliber (12.7mm) machine gun. The weapons operator has use of a FLIR (night vision device) and a laser range finder. The machine-gun, however, can't be depressed sufficiently to fire at ground targets towards the front of the vehicle. The missiles have a range of four kilometers, the machine-gun about half that. The usual price is $12-15 million per Avenger system, including Stinger missiles, training gear, spare parts and training and technical assistance.

The AMRAAM is the most modern air-to-air missile in American service, and has its own radar for making its final approach to its target. The SLAMRAAM concept, as first developed in Norway, has been adopted by several other countries. A box launcher is used, and the ground launched AMRAAM can hit targets as high as 4,200 meters (13,000 feet). SLAMRAAM can work with different search radars. The AMRAAM SAM costs more (about $600,000 each) compared to the air-to-air version (about $380,000), but is basically the same missile. The four meter (twelve foot) long AMRAAM has a 22.7 kg (fifty pound) warhead, and can take down just about anything that flies, including wide-body commercial transports.

An SLAMRAAM firing battery consists of one fire-control center, a radar (with a 75 kilometer range) and four to eight hummers carrying missiles. The missiles have an effective range of 25 kilometers, and can knock down cruise missiles, as well as helicopters.

Oman, like other Arab Gulf states are improving their air defenses in the face of a growing Iranian threat. While the Iranian Air Force is second rate, it can be dangerous if you are not prepared. Avenger and SLAMRAAM can handle most Iranian warplanes and helicopters.

 

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