Tag Archives: Surface to Air Missile

“All flights, including Malaysian B777, were being escorted by Ukrainian Su-27 Flanker jets over Eastern Ukraine”

According to an authoritative source, two Su-27 Flankers escorted the Malaysian Boeing 777 minutes before it was hit by one or more missiles.

There are still too many unanswered questions about the downing of Malaysia Airlines MH17 over eastern Ukraine on Jul. 17, 2014. Among them, one of the most important deals with the possible error made by the operator inside the SA-11 “Gadfly” (“Buk”) TELAR (transporter erector launcher and radar) who did fire one or more missiles against a civilian plane.

Indeed, the operators inside the Buk could “read” the Boeing 777’s altitude and transponder and could easily identify the civilian plane enroute from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur flying at FL300 inside the eastern Ukraine’s airspace.

Why did they mistake a large civilian plane for a smaller Ukrainian Air Force surveillance plane?

Just a matter of poor training?

Iranian defense expert Babak Taghvaee believes the mistake was caused by the fact the Malaysian Boeing 777 was escorted over eastern Ukraine. Taghvaee is always very well informed and an extremely reliable source. Therefore, after he provided some details about this activity of the Ukrainian Air Force on ACIG forum thread about the war in Ukraine, we contacted him for some more insight.

Here’s what he wrote to us.

“When the Crimea crisis began, the Ukrainian Air Force air command center quickly forward deployed six Su-27s to the Kulbakino AB. Since beginning of the crisis and the Russia intervention, the 831st TAB has the important task to provide air defense as well as security of whole country. Six fully armed Flankers have always been in the sky especially when the other Ukrainian Air Force airplanes such as transporters and attackers like Fulcrums and Rooks were in the East of Ukraine,” explains Taghvaee.

“But when the Su-25M1 was shot down by the Russia Air Force 6969th AB’s MiG-29 on Jul. 16, the situation and condition became more critical than previous days and more Su-27 sorties were conducted to confront Russian MiG-29s. I believe those two Su-27s were not in sky just for standard practice in that day [Jul. 17], I believe they were involved in HAVCAP (High  Asset Value Combat Air Patrol) mission sortie in that day.”

In other words: since the Russian interceptors had downed a Su-25 on the previous days, the Ukrainian escorted all military and civil flights over eastern Ukraine on Jul. 17. Including MH17.

“During the UEFA 2012, the 831st TAB and its Flankers had same role, during those competitions they had duty to escort the airliners in FL330 and other routes in case emergency. They played same role during the Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia. They were airborne and they even escorted a hijacked airplane. They were also ready to provide security of all passenger airplanes over Ukraine. They are now following same procedure and they could protect all of the airplanes over Ukraine in-front of Russians since Jul 16.”

Provided the Su-27s were really escorting or (more likely) watching from their CAP station many, if not all, civil flights over Eastern Ukraine for the first time ever on Jul. 17, in the wake of the downing of the Su-25, the operators inside the Buk may have mistaken the Boeing 777 shadowed by/near two Flankers for a high-value plane of the Ukrainian Air Force. On their radar screens, the sight of a large plane with two accompanying (or circling in CAP not too far away) fighter jets was completely new and may only mean the Ukrainians were escorting an important plane. And that would be the reason why they downed it without spending too much time analysing its transponder code and altitude.

 Image credit: Ukraine MoD

H/T Babak Taghvaee and ACIG.info

 

What it’s like to be sitting behind a radar screen of an SA-11 Buk SAM system

If you thought Buk (SA-11) SAM operators had a clear view of the airspace around their vehicle you were wrong.

The images and video in this post show the inside of a Buk (SA-11) SAM (surface to air missile) system’s TELAR transporter erector launcher and radar like the one possibly involved in the downing of Malaysia Airlines MH17 flight over Ukraine.

They give an idea of what it is like to be sitting behind the radar screen of the anti-aircraft sytem.

The Buk, known as SA-11 or SA-17 depending on the variant, is a self-propelled medium range, medium altitude anti-aircraft system with a maximum range of 13NM and a ceiling of 39,400 feet. It uses a semi-active radar homing guidance system: the missile listens to the signal emitted by the ground radar and reflected from the target and points itself towards it.

The difficult part of the engagement is obviously to distinguish between friendly and foe.

Basically, when sitting behind an old-fashioned radar screen, the system does not help too much to distinguish a military cargo plane from a Boeing 777 enroute at FL330 as both aircraft would appear to the operators as blips.

Inside_of_a_Buk-SAM-console_radar

But, Soviet-era air defense systems as the Buk are equipped with IFF (Identify Friend or Foe) systems meaning that they are able to detect if the system is targeting a civilian plane through its transponder code. Therefore, provided the operators are trained enough, they’ll be able to distinguish between a Ukrainian transport plane and a large airliner. If not, they will simply shoot.

Inside_of_a_Buk-SAM-console.jpg

Anyway, as suggested by a reader of this blog (“Phuzz”),  while it doesn’t include the Buk (SA-11), SAMSimulator will give you a pretty realistic view of what the operator of such a system would see.

Image credit: Wiki, SAMSimulator

 

You Gotta Be Shitting Me! The Story of the first U.S. SAM-hunters in Vietnam

In addition to be the first of the so called “Century Series” fighters and the first U.S. Air Force plane able to reach supersonic speed in level flight, the North American F-100 Super Sabre was also the first of the Wild Weasel aircraft.

The concept around Wild Weasels (aircraft specialized in Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses missions) dates back to Jul. 24, 1965, when an Air Force F-4C Phantom was shot down over North Vietnam by a Soviet made SA-2 Guideline Surface to Air Missile: a proof that the SAMs (Surface to Air Missiles) were a real threat for U.S. aircraft, and something that had to be coped with in the shortest time possible.

The first idea relied on the traditional methods of photo and electronic reconnaissance (after the SAM site was located, aircraft on alert would be launched to destroy it). But such an approach was neither timely nor effective since many sites were mobile.

Therefore, a small number of aircraft were equipped with electronic devices to locate and mark the SAM sites in real-time for strike aircraft. This method required those aircraft to be fitted with a Radar Homing and Warning (RHAW) device allowing them to know when they were being targeted. The second step was to load these aircraft with missiles, like the AGM-45 Shrike, that could be fired at the radar. The last step was providing more effective jamming to protect themselves.

Due to its availability and performance, the two seat version of the Super Sabre, the F-100F, was chosen as the pathfinder aircraft: these aircraft had the task to locate and mark the SAM sites. Their RHAW was fitted with the IR-133 Panoramic Scan Receiver made by Applied Technologies Inc. (the so called ATI equipment), which provided a 360 degree scan on a 3-inch Cathode Ray Tube cockpit display to provide bearing to the signal: moreover it differentiated the various frequency bands and pulse rates to identify the several types of radar signals received, such as surveillance, missile tracking and Anti Aircraft Artillery (AAA) radar.

The aim of these kind of missions were explained to the aircrews during several briefings and it was in one of these meetings that an F-100F Electronics Warfare Officer (EWO), the F-100’s back seater, said: “You want me to ride in the back of a two seat fighter with a teenage killer in the front seat? You Gotta Be Shitting Me!” and from that briefing is believed to come the original Wild Weasel slogan “YGBSM” as explained in Ted Spitzmiller’s book Century Series The USAF Quest for air supremacy 1950-1960 .

After the visual identification of the target, the Pathfinder had to mark it, by means of 2.75 inch air to ground rockets fired from LAU-3 launchers, for the F-105 Thundechiefs that followed the F-100 with the task to destroy the SAM site.

Often, the SA-2 was launched against the F-100F: to avoid the missile, the Super Sabre aircrew relied on the Launch Warning Receiver (LWR-300) which, with a yellow light in the cockpit, alerted the crew of the imminent launch and with a red light signaled that the missile launch had occurred. A former pathfinder pilot, Colonel Edward Rock in the book First In, Last Out explained that he never noticed the color of the light: “If a SAM was launched, then the azimuth strobe associated with the threat was supposed to blink at 3 cycles per second. I can say that I probably had more than 100 missiles launched at my aircraft and never, not even once, saw the strobe blinking. Probably busy with more important things like saving my life.”

The first Wild Weasel F-100Fs arrived at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base in November 1965. They conducted their first successful mission on Dec. 22 1965, as recalled by another Super Sabre pilot, Lieutenant Colonel Allen Lamb who gave his account to Ted Spitzmiller: “We didn’t just mark the target…we went in first with rockets and came back around with cannons even before some of the Thuds (as it was called the F-105 Thunderchief) had started on a first run. The F-100F was an excellent hunter-killer in that it was very agile. I was very fond of it, and of my ability to fly it.”

The F-100F flew these missions until its replacement with the F-105F, which took place in July 1966. However the “Hun” (as the Super Sabre was dubbed by its aircrews) was the first Wild Weasel aircraft and the first fighter to fly in the risky environment of the anti SAM missions, as remembered by Rock: “Due to the limited number of Wild Weasel aircraft we were considered a high value limited asset…we normally flew only the most dangerous missions and in an area where the threat was the very highest.”

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

 

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[Video] Russian Tunguska Anti-Aircraft Vehicle’s Firing System Goes Awry Almost Kills Everyone

Tunguska anti-aircraft weapon system jammed machine. Footage from different point of views.

The following videos show a 9K22 Tunguska anti aircraft weapon system going out of control during live firing activity. Although some sources say footage was shot during the recent invasion of Crimea, it’s unclear when and where it was actually filmed.

Designed to provide all weather, day and night protection for infantry and tank regiments against low-flying aircraft, helicopters, and cruise missiles, it is armed with a surface-to-air gun and missiles.

Here’s the footage allegedly filmed from the inside:

H/T to “nohandsnick” for the heads-up

 

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Hellenic Air Force Fires S-300 Air Defense System for the first time

On Dec. 13, the Hellenic Air Force conducted the LIVEX “White Eagle” at the NATO Missile Firing Installation (NAMFI) in Crete, during which shots of the S-300PMU-1 air defence system were fired for the first time since it was bought 14 years earlier.

The S-300 is a Soviet (then Russian) long range SAM (Surface to Air Missile) developed to defend against aircraft and cruise missiles with variants developed to intercept ballistic missiles.

The S-300 PMU1 system was procured by Athens after the Cyprus Missile Crisis and deployed on Crete island where 2 Batteries consisting of 12 launchers (96 missiles) are operated.

The Minister of National Defence Dimitris Avramopoulos, the Minister of Defence of the Republic of Cyprus Fotis Fotiou and several foreign military attachés in Greece attended the exercise.

H/T to Strategy Reports for the link to the video.

 

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