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Republican Guards seem to have found some pristine T72AVs with undamaged ERA skirts, IR searchlights and fenders. I can only assume these are emergency reserves being deployed as new replacement tanks arrive.

Might always be presents from Syrian Express.
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The Damascus campaign is almost over and it was rather well conducted. The strategy of paroling the jihadis to Idlib Effectively divided the local and external cadres.

There is much to learned from this campaign, if you are not American.

 

But at some point the regime will need to decide what to do with those areas under Turkish and Kurdish control, either give them up and live in a smaller more cohesive Syria or retake them and confront the bad news face to face.

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Can you please elaborate Gargean?

FCS is much better, utilizing much stronger radar and better EOTS. Provides capability to intercept much smaller and faster targets than Tung. Missile is much faster and longer ranged, with bigger warhead. In whole Pantsir-S1 is better in anything by really meaningful margin, not comparable with Tung>Tung-M switch. Only drawback of system is deadzone for missiles due to two-stage missile, albeit it's not too big and covered by cannons.

 

 

Sorry, it took me so long to get in front of a keyboard.

 

No doubt that the spec. of Pantsir system is better than late model 2S6. However, although we are comparing apples to oranges in some respects (the two systems have a different employment), both systems are going to be limited to a great extent by line of sight. I live in a comparatively flat place and yet, even if I climb on my roof, my line of sight is limited to far less than 24Km vs a target flying at say 50 metres altitude. That means the advantage of the Pantsir vs low flying targets over the 2S6M is going to be very limited. It's fast reaction time and somewhat faster missiles might give it the opportunity to engage more fleeting targets, but, where I am, a 600 knot cruise missile isn't going to be exposed for even 10 seconds a lot of the time. The targets that do get exposed long enough to attack are mostly going to be at far closer ranges where the relative advantage of Pantsir (even a tracked, partially armoured version) is much less great.

 

I think we can agree that fixed wing aircraft attacking 2S6M or Pantsir defended targets directly with free fall munitions, rockets or guns, or missiles that have a very constraining and vulnerable launch envelope like Maverick simply isn't going to happen. Systems like Brimstone, used in indirect kill-box mode could work, if used intelligently (I would expect Pantsir to shoot some of them down), but you then have to ask yourself why you're not shooting them off a truck rather than a super expensive and highly vulnerable platform.

 

 

I must admit I don't quite understand why the SA-22 system is a tracked vehicle instead of some of them being helicopter mounted.

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Can you please elaborate Gargean?

FCS is much better, utilizing much stronger radar and better EOTS. Provides capability to intercept much smaller and faster targets than Tung. Missile is much faster and longer ranged, with bigger warhead. In whole Pantsir-S1 is better in anything by really meaningful margin, not comparable with Tung>Tung-M switch. Only drawback of system is deadzone for missiles due to two-stage missile, albeit it's not too big and covered by cannons.

Sorry, it took me so long to get in front of a keyboard.

 

No doubt that the spec. of Pantsir system is better than late model 2S6. However, although we are comparing apples to oranges in some respects (the two systems have a different employment), both systems are going to be limited to a great extent by line of sight. I live in a comparatively flat place and yet, even if I climb on my roof, my line of sight is limited to far less than 24Km vs a target flying at say 50 metres altitude. That means the advantage of the Pantsir vs low flying targets over the 2S6M is going to be very limited. It's fast reaction time and somewhat faster missiles might give it the opportunity to engage more fleeting targets, but, where I am, a 600 knot cruise missile isn't going to be exposed for even 10 seconds a lot of the time. The targets that do get exposed long enough to attack are mostly going to be at far closer ranges where the relative advantage of Pantsir (even a tracked, partially armoured version) is much less great.

 

I think we can agree that fixed wing aircraft attacking 2S6M or Pantsir defended targets directly with free fall munitions, rockets or guns, or missiles that have a very constraining and vulnerable launch envelope like Maverick simply isn't going to happen. Systems like Brimstone, used in indirect kill-box mode could work, if used intelligently (I would expect Pantsir to shoot some of them down), but you then have to ask yourself why you're not shooting them off a truck rather than a super expensive and highly vulnerable platform.

First - you usually have to look at system in whole and supplemented equipment. For instance, Buk-M2 setup has detection range of 40km against target at 10m heigh (and Tomahawks are flying much higher). So range detection is not so hard problem as it seems except extremely rare cases with very unhandy terrain. Second - cruise missiles, Tomahawk included, are not going at 1100km/h. Usual march speed is around 800km/h.

 

 

If you run the numbers again, taking the height of the radar as 3 metres (about the height of the engagement radar on the Buk TELAR) and the height of the target at 20, that pushes the radar horizon out to 26.7km, but at that range the missile would still be literally on the horizon, so even that range is unrealistically long. This, remember, is somewhere where the world was perfectly smooth and spherical. Some parts of the Russian steppes perhaps. Even trees can dramatically affect the range that you can see things. You can easily do a map search on Google for, for instance, Kaliningrad (the area around which is relatively flat), and just drop the little gold man wherever you want to and look around.

 

I said 600 knots off the top of my head. Checking wiki, it says 550mph. That's very much in the ballpark of 600 knots. Let's say two hills are a mile apart and the missile pops out from behind one and heads behind the other. At 550 mph the target will be exposed for 7 seconds. This is how even slightly bumpy terrain does not help SAM systems requiring line of sight.

 

 

It's also the relative static nature of a tracked vehicles that allow the planners to plot attack courses that string their way to the target. The fact no Foxhounds are in Syria to me suggests that the Russians are not yet serious on shoring up their currently leaky defenses.

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https://www.military.com/daily-news/2018/04/20/russia-us-did-not-violate-red-lines-during-syria-strikes.html

 

More follow up on the pre-strike US-Russian communications. This part is interesting, suggesting that the Russian military is doing a full report on the missile strike and intends to publish it,

 

 

The Pentagon said that all 105 missiles fired at three Syrian chemical facilities reached their targets, while the Russian military said Syrian air defenses downed 71 out of 103 U.S. missiles.

Lavrov, who said Russia will soon offer evidence to back up its claims..."

Edited by glenn239
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Jaish Islam in East Qalamoun has apparently agreed to terms with the Syrian government. These are almost certainly somewhat better than the standard "Evacuation to Idlib" deal, given that the faction is handing back the surviving tanks of the 559th Armored Battalion seized in March 2014. According to @QalaatAlMudiq's Twitter account, this is the largest rebel restitution of AFVs since Syria's civil war began:

 

DbT8AWcXcAEWNZt.jpg

 

Notice the BREM-2 on the left:

 

DbQJm7kXcAA_TPi.jpg

 

A T-72 that had been concealed in a shallow cave:

 

DbSxjKAWAAA3LfP.jpg

 

In the same pocket the Faylaq Rahman faction of the FSA handed in their heavy weapons, including what appears to be a pair of TOW launchers with missiles:

 

DbT8BsdW0AAx6W8.jpg

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Two more photos from the same account:

 

The first is of Russian MPs entering the town of Ruhaybah in the East Qalamoun pocket to oversee the evacuation and weapons handover:

 

DbN8ptAXcAEruij.jpg

 

And the second shows one of the excellent-condition T-72AVs that Simon wrote about:

 

DbTuw2yX0AEkL8o.jpg

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Hi GARGEAN. 5 metres high really does not make a big difference. I would also assume that neither system can conduct an engagement purely with its search radar so you still need to achieve line of sight from a lower point on the vehicle. The point I was making about 550mph is not that it can out run a SAM but that it can limit exposure time when transiting between elements of intervening terrain. Even a system with a 5 second reaction time and mach 3 missiles is going to have its work cut out engaging a target that's only exposed 15km away for 10 seconds. For effects of height of sensor and height of target in a perfectly spherical unobstructed works i refer you back to the calculatot i linked. Line of sight is obviously much less of a problem for systems like the S-350.

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Hi GARGEAN. 5 metres high really does not make a big difference. I would also assume that neither system can conduct an engagement purely with its search radar so you still need to achieve line of sight from a lower point on the vehicle. The point I was making about 550mph is not that it can out run a SAM but that it can limit exposure time when transiting between elements of intervening terrain. Even a system with a 10 sec8nd reaction time and mach 3 missiles is going to have its work cut out engaging a target that's only exposed 15km away for 10 seconds. For effects of height of sensor and height of target in a perfectly spherical unobstructed works i refer you back to the calculatot i linked.

Problems here are reaction time (for Pantsir - 4-6 seconds, not 10), possible additional systems like 9S36 mentioned above and fact that CMs are NOT going at height of 10 meters. Usually used heigh is 50 meters, possible lower (35-40 meters), but at flat terrain without height bumps.
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GARGEAN, we are going around in circles here. Even with a 5 second reaction time and an M 3.0 missile, a cruise missile that's exposed for 10 seconds crossing a valley is not going to be engaged at 15km range. The system also simply can't see through the curvature of the Earth which cruise missiles would be well below, even 20m high, at 40km range..

 

When you read specs of systems you have to be careful, because you have to take the figures in context. Detection range 40km. OK, vs what? A C-130, side on? a Tomahawk side on? A JASSM-ER head on? Engagement range vs a target at 2o altitude at 30km? Sure, but if it's a line of sight system, it would need to be on top of a hill with the terrain around very flat. The target would also, presumably, need a reasonably large RCS to be detected that far away.

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Chris, by that count none of BGM-109 should have been shot by SA-7 and 20/3 AAA in 1999, yet they were.

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On the specific point of Tomahawk vulnerability, it is just a small subsonic jet aeroplane. It has no stealth characteristics and no jammers and relies on routing around enemy defences, taking advantage of intervening terrain, plus time on target, multiple axis attacks etc. If one flies within the engagement envelope of even a quite mundane AD system, it is likely to be shot down by that system. Even a lucky hit from a rifle calibre machine gun will take it out. I am sure this happened in either 1991 or 2003 and it is perfectly credible to me that some Tomahawks were shot down by triple 20mm and SA-7s in the war in the Balkans, particularly given the large quantity of the former that the JNA had in service at the time and obvious locations of many of their targets. They were presumably not shot down from 40km with the targets successfully tracked and engaged through kilometres of sedimentary rock, however.

 

I am not a Tomahawk fanboi. I have no axe to grind against Russia (you will note that I was anti this attack and the last one and consider both the recent Syrian and Salisbury gas attacks to be of uncertain origin). All I am asserting is that a missile system - any missile system - that uses line of sight control (radar or electro-optic) has to follow the laws of physics and geometry as they normally apply throughout the observable universe. If you can make a convincing case for those laws not applying, there is a Nobel prize awaiting you.

 

On the matter of Russian claims re the effectiveness of their air defences, I obviously don't know how many, if any, Western cruise missiles were shot down. The targets claimed to have been attacked were destroyed, although with effects that make me suspect a significant number of cruise missiles did not hit their intended targets (malfunctioned, routed into terrain, shot down, fried electronically by high powered ECM or whatever). It is possible that the Russian claim is correct. However, they have, to the best of my knowledge, not produced credible evidence that a single missile was actually shot down. Such evidence you would think would be pretty abundant in the aftermath of the attack. I also find the immediacy of the Russian claims a bit suspect, given that rushed claims often turn out to be wrong. Someone already gave the example of Russian claim that the Libyan IADS shot down 20 US planes in 1986. This was later downgraded to 10 and then one, although that plane could have crashed taking evasive action. Another famously wrong claim was that Rapier had achieved 14 kills and 6 probables against the Argentines in 1982 - this was later revised to four possible kills of which only one was certain. In 1991 PATRIOT was first claimed to have hit high percentages of incoming Scuds. These percentage were then downgraded significantly. with 20:20 hindsight, it is legitimate to speculate that not one Scud was actually successfully engaged in that its warhead was neutralised. Now it is clearly in the West's and Western defence manufacturers' interests to have the effectiveness of the cruise missiles rated as highly as possible and conversely also in Russia and Russian defence manufacturers' interests to have their AD systems rated as highly as possible. I am not sure we will ever get to the truth of what actually happened, but I suspect it was somewhere near the middle of the two opposing claims.

 

A final observation. The Russians have purchased substantial numbers of what is, essentially an analog to Western Tomahawk and AGM-86 series conventionally armed cruise missiles. If even quite mundane defences are sometimes effective against them, as has been proven, time and time again, and modern defences highly effective, as has been alleged, can we expect to see Russia withdrawing them?

 

I'm done here.

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Chris, by that count none of BGM-109 should have been shot by SA-7 and 20/3 AAA in 1999, yet they were.

 

Let's not forget that the 90s Tomahawks had significant limitations due to the TERCOM guidance that forced them to follow predictable paths that had enough contrast for the radar and that needed to be in the database. Notable is the case of the assesment of their effectiveness in the 2nd Gulf War in which hit % remain classified, so it's not like it's an invulnerable system.

 

All cruise missiles are a hard target to engage because they fly low and can use terrain masking, but if the target nation has a notion of their targets, defences can engage them.

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Its worth remembering, the USAF was talking about incorporating stealth features on cruise missiles as long ago as the 1980s. And whilst I doubt any of the cruise missiles employed go very far out on such features, it would not take very much to remove maybe a second or two of warning. And suddenly the picture changes again.

 

I remember Typhoon when it was going through the final preproduction aircraft was stated as incorporating stealth features. The media had a good laugh out of that, but it was essentially true. Not that it was a stealth fighter, but just be incorporating smoothed edges around the engine intake, addition of ram, radar absorbent paint perhaps along the leading edges, it was reckoned to be able to reduce the range an enemy was able to detect, giving the advantage to the Eurofighter. A point which has admittedly to be proven, but even the F22's seemed surprised at some of their capabilities. It seems reasonable to assume such capablities have been extended to Euromissiles. Stormshadow for example is described as a stealth missile. What if Stormshadow incorporates some of the same features? After all, Rafale certainly does.

 

When Trump talked about 'nice and new and smart' he was probably bullshitting. Or maybe, just perhaps, it was a reflection that they have been improving standoff PGM's to have enhanced survivability. I have no proof of this, but equally there is yet to be any proof of the substantial kills the Syrians were projected to achieve, other than some fairly wild and standard claims every-time we bomb an Arab nation. So yes, past indications of Tomahawks capabilities are interesting, but how certain are we Tomahawk has stood still without any further upgrades?

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Jaish Islam in East Qalamoun has apparently agreed to terms with the Syrian government. These are almost certainly somewhat better than the standard "Evacuation to Idlib" deal, given that the faction is handing back the surviving tanks of the 559th Armored Battalion seized in March 2014. According to @QalaatAlMudiq's Twitter account, this is the largest rebel restitution of AFVs since Syria's civil war began:

 

 

In the same pocket the Faylaq Rahman faction of the FSA handed in their heavy weapons, including what appears to be a pair of TOW launchers with missiles:

 

Note Sukheil is now also guarded by Rus SF in addition to Syrian guard (or Rus SF is guarding somebody else not shown on photos)

DbUmUVHVAAEwx7d.jpg

 

With ANNA-news team

DbUbKMBXkAAAz4T.jpg

 

More photos of weapoms surrendered here https://colonelcassad.livejournal.com/4136888.html

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A 20km tunnel wide enough to accommodate a vehicle, wow that is particularly impressive. It perhaps wouldn't have taken that long to excavate with a tunnel boring/road heading machine used for such applications (road tunnels, underground mining and so on). And they'll work in hard rock too. With some VBIED's being made from large quarry dump trucks, perhaps these machines are available in the area?

 

I can somehow see these tunnels being retained and being used for transportation or even just as underground storage.

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Not all that hard, been in hardrock mines where the miners can punch a tunnel with drills, blasting and mucking at an impressive rate and according to the Russian, this is not even hardrock, but actually pretty decent material. Not to hard, but has some structural strength. You note the clip with the railline, muck car and guys going at it with shovels.

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