How serious is the mssile threat?

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PhillyGuy

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Unread post21 Apr 2017, 08:32

I've always been a big believer in the threat cruise and ballistic missiles pose to bases within their range. Especially in the European theater from Russia and in the Pacific via Chinese forces.

I always assumed any large scale attack would cause massive and irreparable devastation to the target. That such an attack could be quickly mounted and easily mass launched etc...

So I always assumed that almost all major US and allied bases in range of the 2nd Artillery Corps (China) or Strategic Rocket Forces (Russia) would be taken out of the fight instantly and essentially indefinitely.

But the US strike on the Syrian airbase a few weeks ago opened my eyes to something that I am not sure is real, given the circumstances of the attack.

We launched 59 cruise missiles at a single airbase and it was not even fully destroyed, with taxiways and runway intact as well as most major operations structures.

And on top of that, the number of Tomahawks launch was way way more missiles per airbase than I calculated would be necessary to destroy an airbase/naval port and knock it out for days, maybe weeks.

In my estimate I was assuming it would take half a dozen or less missiles and not 59+. If the latter is the case, the Chinese and Russians will run out of long range missiles to launch at us before they can even target the hundreds and hundreds (thousands really) of various allied bases and sites in NATO countries or Asian treaty nations. Bases which should be larger and more well designed and protected and complicated than the Syrian base.

And that's assuming they could all be launched without a hitch and have 100% probability of function and impact and not get intercepted by any defenses. AND that every single stock pile and platform and system coukd be fielded and fired simultaneously, a major major task in itself.

Is this really the case? Or was the US using standard warheads in a one missile for one aircraft type of attack not really designed to blast the whole air base in some sort of Indiscriminate cluster munitions strike. And obviously for whatever reason we chose not to crater the runway or hit other Syrian C&C sructures/buildings and barracks.

So of course I feel like we held back from showing our full hand or totally obliterating the place, while launching a large number of missiels to send a message but limiting those missiles to one target per warhead. We did not therefore demonstrate a true airbase attack al la the flavor necessary in an all out war with a large and strong strategic enemy.

I'm conflicted. Does it take that many missiles to seriously damage an airbase? And also so little time to get one repaired and up and running again after an attack?

If yes then we are golden and don't have to worry about a conventional missile strike crippling our forces or the enemy having so many of them that they can target anything and everything from distance. And since neither possess conventional air assets that can penetrate to drop unguided munitions or short range bombs, we should be at an advantage when it comes to slugging it out.

Somehow I still have that nagging feeling that this is not the case, and that the missile threat to our bases is as severe as I had always feared.

I would love your input and ideas.
"Man will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest."
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hornetfinn

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Unread post21 Apr 2017, 09:30

Airbases are huge and difficult targets to take out for longer times without resorting to nukes. Runways and taxiways can be pretty easily repaired within hours. Just clear out unexploded ordannce, clear debris, fill craters and resurface. Most critical things in air bases are redundant multiple times and are pretty strong, so they need a lot of large warheads to take out or even seriously degrade operational ability. Aircraft are usually in reventments, hardened aircraft shelters (HAS) or sometimes in underground shelters when in combat mode. Fuel, weapons and such are usually stored in multiple widely separated places, which can be underground or otherwise hardened. Besides, those can be quickly brought there from other facilities by trucks.

I think nobody can take out air bases for longer time periods using only missiles with non-nuclear warheads. It would need massive first strike and continuous heavy missile strikes day after day to prevent repairs and to keep them shut. The attacker would very quickly run out of missiles against several air bases. Missile strike would be good if it could be followed with aircraft bombing it to oblivion.
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terrygedran

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Unread post21 Apr 2017, 12:14

BM-30 Smerch

Caliber 300 mm (12 in)
Barrels 12
Maximum firing range 90 km (56 mi)


3bf6c047f3353d697160be6617ed3e7f.png


M270 MLRS

m270.png



RGM/UGM-109H Tactical Tomahawk Penetration Variant


Judging by the photo there were used missiles with a penetrating warhead .And they need a lot to destroy all.
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arian

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Unread post21 Apr 2017, 23:13

PhillyGuy wrote:In my estimate I was assuming it would take half a dozen or less missiles and not 59+. If the latter is the case, the Chinese and Russians will run out of long range missiles to launch at us before they can even target the hundreds and hundreds (thousands really) of various allied bases and sites in NATO countries or Asian treaty nations. Bases which should be larger and more well designed and protected and complicated than the Syrian base.

And that's assuming they could all be launched without a hitch and have 100% probability of function and impact and not get intercepted by any defenses. AND that every single stock pile and platform and system coukd be fielded and fired simultaneously, a major major task in itself.


I've been saying this for a long time regarding those scenarios of Chinese taking out US/Japanese bases with ballistic missiles. It is a monumental task which would require their entire complement of missiles be used up. But then what happens the next day?

Of course your could seriously degrade the operations of an airbase over a period of time, and that is no small factor. Not to mention destroying aircraft and equipment, which is permanently take out of the fight. That Syrian airbase, while being "back in operation", is hardly effective anymore. They flew the few remaining aircraft that were spared (because they were in the maintenance hangars which were not bombed because they were on the side of the airbase where Russian personnel may have been) out of the base, but essentially that base was out of operation. Mainly because it had no more aircraft (other than the surviving 2-3 Su-22s).

But it does take a lot of munitions. If you think about the fact that just on Okinawa there are...3...airfields which are used by the US military. The ammunition and fuel storage areas are large. There are 3 major port facilities. Etc. It would take several hundred warheads to "take out" such a base. It's doable, but image what it would take.

First, China would need to either get several hundred of it's short-ranges SRBM/MRBMs which have about an 800km range located in the right place to launch a "saturation" attack. Remember these missiles are not based within range of Okinawa, so it would require a large movement of missiles and supporting systems, all to a one area. Something that wouldn't go unnoticed and probably take several days to achieve. By which time, there won't be any planes left on Kadena.

Or, they could strike with their longer ranged MRBMs/IRBMs which would be in range of Okinawa from their current basing. But that would mean using up the entire arsenal of such missiles. For nothing or little left over for day 2, or for the hundreds of other potential targets across the Pacific island chains.

Second, they could launch hundreds of missiles at it to saturate air defenses. But that's day 1. What is left for day 2? And day 3? Or, they could maintain a sustained operation against such airbases, but that would mean only being able to lob a few missiles at a time over a prolonged period of time. There would be several PAC-3 batteries on Okinawa. And PAC-3 has already demonstrated in actual combat in Saudi Arabia the ability to engage even waves of missiles: http://www.arabnews.com/node/1081511/middle-east

And this is just for one US base. There would also be dozens of Japanese bases, Taiwanese bases etc etc. Hundreds of other important targets. And lots of PAC-3, THAAD, SM-2/6/3 around as well.

And of course, on day 2, if Okinawa is indeed knocked out, the US will operate from one of the many dozens other airfields on the Japanese islands and be out of range of the majority of China's arsenal. So what would be accomplished, anyway? Destroy a dozen tankers, a dozen fighters and a dozen P-3s?

The Chinese certainly have a large arsenal of ballistic missiles, but it probably isn't as decisive as many make it out to be. More of an asymmetric "magic bullet" solution.

As for Russia's capabilities to carry out strikes with cruise missiles or conventional ballistic missiles, these are pretty insignificant in my opinion. Nowhere near the needed numbers to talk about.

PS: China's ballistic missile capability is aimed at Taiwan. Against Taiwan, a country which is much closer to China (hence a lot more missiles can be deployed against it), with limited early warning capability (at least in detecting Chinese missile movements before hand), limited ABM capabilities, and where the air force has nowhere else to go, and with limited retaliatory capability...this may be doable for Chinese ballistic missile forces. But against the US? We can base virtually anywhere, and even a massed all-in attack on Okinawa will net the Chinese very little in return other than wasting their entire arsenal.

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