Wednesday, December 28, 2011

US Navy Struts And Boasts, But Is One Giant Sitting Duck

U.S. Fifth Fleet says won't allow disruption in Hormuz

"Dubai - The U.S. Fifth Fleet said on Wednesday it will not allow any disruption of traffic in the Strait of Hormuz, after Iran threatened to stop ships moving through the strategic oil route.

"The free flow of goods and services through the Strait of Hormuz is vital to regional and global prosperity," a spokesperson for the Bahrain-based fleet said in a written response to queries from Reuters about the possibility of Iran trying to close the waterway.

"Anyone who threatens to disrupt freedom of navigation in an international strait is clearly outside the community of nations; any disruption will not be tolerated."

Asked whether it was taking specific measures in response to the threat to close the Strait, the fleet said it "maintains a robust presence in the region to deter or counter destabilizing activities," without providing further detail."

The Deadliest Missile In The World

"The Sunburn can deliver a 200-kiloton nuclear payload, or: a 750-pound conventional warhead, within a range of 100 miles, more than twice the range of the Exocet. The Sunburn combines a Mach 2.1 speed (two times the speed of sound) with a flight pattern that hugs the deck and includes "violent end maneuvers" to elude enemy defenses. The missile was specifically designed to defeat the US Aegis radar defense system. Should a US Navy Phalanx point defense somehow manage to detect an incoming Sunburn missile, the system has only seconds to calculate a fire solution not enough time to take out the intruding missile. The US Phalanx defense employs a six-barreled gun that fires 3,000 depleted-uranium rounds a minute, but the gun must have precise coordinates to destroy an intruder "just in time."

The Sunburn's combined supersonic speed and payload size produce tremendous kinetic energy on impact, with devastating consequences for ship and crew. A single one of these missiles can sink a large warship, yet costs considerably less than a fighter jet. Although the Navy has been phasing out the older Phalanx defense system, its replacement, known as the Rolling Action Missile (RAM) has never been tested against the weapon it seems destined to one day face in combat.

The US Navy's only plausible defense against a robust weapon like the Sunburn missile is to detect the enemy's approach well ahead of time, whether destroyers, subs, or fighter-bombers, and defeat them before they can get in range and launch their deadly cargo. For this purpose US AWACs radar planes assigned to each naval battle group are kept aloft on a rotating schedule. The planes "see" everything within two hundred miles of the fleet, and are complemented with intelligence from orbiting satellites.

But US naval commanders operating in the Persian Gulf face serious challenges that are unique to the littoral, i.e., coastal, environment. A glance at a map shows why: The Gulf is nothing but a large lake, with one narrow outlet, and most of its northern shore, i.e., Iran, consists of mountainous terrain that affords a commanding tactical advantage over ships operating in Gulf waters. The rugged northern shore makes for easy concealment of coastal defenses, such as mobile missile launchers, and also makes their detection problematic. Although it was not widely reported, the US actually lost the battle of the Scuds in the first Gulf War termed "the great Scud hunt" and for similar reasons."

"The US Navy has never faced anything in combat as formidable as the Sunburn missile. But this will surely change if the US and Israel decide to wage a so-called preventive war against Iran to destroy its nuclear infrastructure. Storm clouds have been darkening over the Gulf for many months."


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12/2/13 9:16 PM  

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