obtained (probably as a gift) a large number of Chinese C802 anti-ship missiles
from Iran. Over a hundred missiles may be involved. This is all the result of
an incident last July 14th, when an Israeli Saar class corvette (the Hanit),
cruising off the Lebanese coast, got hit
by a C-802 missile, damaging the ship and killing four of the crew.
The C-802 is a 21 foot
long, 360mm, 1,500 pound missile, with a 360 pound warhead. The Saar class
ships displace only 1,100 tons, are 281 feet long and have a crew of 61. A
direct hit by a C802 could sink one of these ships, but the Hanit only got
clipped. The C-802 has a max range of 120 kilometers, and moves along at about
250 meters a second. The Saar class ships have a Phalanx anti-missile gun
system, that is supposed to be turned on whenever the ship is likely to have an
anti-ship missile fired at it. The radar can spot incoming missiles out to
about 5,000 meters, and the 20mm cannon is effective out to about 2,000 meters.
With incoming missiles moving a 250 meters a second, you can see why Phalanx is
set to automatic. There's not much time for human intervention, which is why
the Phalanx has to be turned on and set to "automatic" to work. .
Israeli ships also have electronic countermeasures for missiles like the C-802,
and that's what probably prevented a direct hit.
Iran bought 150 C-802s
from China in the early 1990s, but shipments were halted in 1995 because of
diplomatic pressure from the United States. Iran is apparently building its own
version of the C-802, which is 30 year old technology. The C802 moves along at
low altitude (60-100 feet), but drops down to about 10-14 feet for its final
approach. For a ship not equipped with missile defenses, the C802 can be quite
deadly. Iran plans to use them to close the entrance to the Persian Gulf (the Straits of Hormuz), in the event of war
with its neighbors, the West, or anyone in general.
The C-802 needs a radar to
spot the target at long distance, and guide the C-802 to the general vicinity
of the target. In this case, the Lebanese government coastal radar apparently
was used. As a result, Israel destroyed the Lebanese coastal radars after the
use of these two C-802 missiles.
The Israeli navy was
embarrassed by the July 14th incident, which occurred mainly because naval
intelligence failed to pass along, to warships off the coast, the fact that
Hizbollah had C802s. Israel can handle anti-ship missiles like the C802,
especially if it is known that these missiles are in play. Thus the Syrian
stockpile of C802s don't change the balance of power in the area.