Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Iranian Involvement In Missile Attack On Israeli Ship

Contrary to initial reports, it now appears almost certain that the Israeli Eilat-class Saar-5 missile corvette was hit by a C-802 missile, rather that a guided drone. The ship, reportedly the INS Hanit, lost four sailors in the attack. According to this report from YNet:
Brigadier-General Noam Page of the Navy said in a press conference Saturday that the Navy was unaware that a missile threat existed in the sector, and that the boat's crew had acted accordingly.
Missile boats are equipped with a missile interception system capable of automatically intercepting any missile or aircraft approaching it. However, as the boat was operating in an area where a large number of IDF planes were present, the Navy had refrained from activating the system.
Navy sources said that had they known the Hizbullah was in possession of missiles of the type used against the boat Saturday, the missile interception system would have been turned on.
This seems to be a fairly significant failure on the part of Israeli intelligence. In what strikes me as an attempt to deflect blame for this failure, the Israelis are now claiming that Iranian Revolutionary Guards forces actually fired the missile from Lebanon:
Israeli officials charged that elite Iranian troops operating in Lebanon were involved in the Hezbollah offensive, and were responsible for firing an Iranian-made, radar-guided C802 missile - not the unmanned bomb-laden drone originally reported - that struck the warship on Friday, killing four sailors.
"There are Iranian officers belonging to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard among Hezbollah and they operated the missile," said Israeli Vice Prime Minister and elder statesman Shimon Peres.
While there's no doubt that the missile was probably supplied by the Iranians, and there's also no question that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards are, in general, a few feathers short of a duck (and therefore wouldn't see the problem with actively engaging in combat with Israel and potentially being caught doing so), I see no reason why the Hezbollah terrorists couldn't be taught how to fire the missile -- especially with the reports that they shot two missiles at the Hanit, but the other missed and hit an Egyptian merchant further downrange.

My take on the whole episode: Based on reports I've seen of the damage to the ship, my guess is that the warhead didn't explode, and that all the damage was done by the missile's fuel cooking off when it hit (the kinetic energy of the missile would also contribute some damage.) The Israelis, normally the epitome of good planning, screwed the pooch on this one by underestimating their adversary -- the Israelis who commented on this news article seem to mostly agree. Expect some people to be held responsible for the failure both in the Israeli Navy and intelligence services. However, don't expect the Israelis to engage in a big public self-flagellation about it; they'll make the necessary changes and get back to business.

Eagle1 has much more on the story here.

Update 2016 16 July: CDR Salamander has more over at Milblogs Ring HQ.

Update 1145 22 July: Here's a report on the initial "lessons learned" evaluation by the IDF. It says the missile did explode above the ship, which would imply a proximity fuse -- that's almost scarier than if it had hit the ship directly.


Blogger AubreyJ said...

Thanks for the update Bubblehead...
Have any thoughts as to which way all this mess is heading?

7/16/2006 12:20 PM

Anonymous Big D said...

Warhead failure (didn't that happen to some Exocets waybackwhen?) sounds logical. I can't see a warhead of that size not doing some serious, serious damage to something that small.

The evidence certainly seems to point to light GLASMs--no way they go 2/2 with 1 hitting a merchie using unguided rockets, and ATGMs just wouldn't cause that much damage unless they hit in the right spot--plus, they're not generally fire-and-forget, while ASMs generally are.

7/16/2006 1:40 PM

Blogger CDR Salamander said...

Thanks, I thought I was missing something. You are exactly right, this isn't a bolt out of the blue. The Israelis lost the Eliat in '67 to the daddy of the C-802, the SS-N-2 Styx. In '73 they fixed that problem and dodged over 50 of them and ate the Egyptian and Syrian lunch.

I'll do a quicky on MilBlog and more of one on CDRSalamander Mon, but the executive summary; Hez got lucky because Israel got cocky. Oh, and another of a 1,000 points of why small caliber naval guns will get you in a tight spot. No one in the LCS shop will talk about this though.

Never assume yourself out of a threat.

7/16/2006 1:55 PM

Anonymous EW3 said...

Way too many facts not in evidence yet to reach any conclusions. One might actually be able to say the ship may have effectively defended itself with ECM. Two missiles fired, one misses completely yet successfully goes on to aquire a 2nd target and destroy it. The one that does "hit" kills only 4 men on a small ship. One could say it wasn't very successful as a real hit would have caused much more damage, even if the warhead did not detonate. My guess would be it detonated without making contact with the ship and the residual fuel caused the conflagration. Most of these types of missiles have proximity fuses.

7/16/2006 7:19 PM

Blogger John (Useful Fools) said...

Reportedly the fire was in the helicopter area. A near miss might have set a fire in fuel there.

7/16/2006 10:56 PM


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