How capable are SHORADs?

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armedupdate

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Unread post17 Dec 2019, 22:01

How capable are SHORADs. Some say they are a good way to prevent close air support. Others say they are wunderweapon to deny air attack by shooting down enemy bombs and cruise missiles. The War in Syria has proven the Pantsir a bit faulty.

So could SHORAD effectively deny air attack against a ground force from a superior air force?
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hornetfinn

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Unread post18 Dec 2019, 13:19

SHORAD is not going to deny air attack capability for superior air force. It will make things more complicated and/or risky though. They force the aircraft to higher altitudes and keep longer distances to avoid being shot down. So enemy weapons have lower accuracy and effect or they need to use more expensive long range guided weapons. Of course nowadays such weapons have relatively low cost and are available in large numbers. Another point is that by forcing the enemy to higher altitudes, they become easier targets for long range SAMs and also fighter aircraft.

SHORAD systems have capabilties to shoot down bombs and cruise missiles, but they can pretty easily be overwhelmed by the superior air force. Basically aircraft can mass very quickly to one place and release a lot of munitions almost simultaneously. GBAD systems are fixed in place during operation and rely on overlapping to provide mutual coverage. Of course modern SHORAD systems can have fairly large number of missiles, so they don't run out as easily. Still a flight of 4 fighter aircraft can launch something like 24-32 SDBs, Spears or similar weapons. SHORAD might shoot down some of them, but likely not even the majority in most cases. And what happens when enemy masses say 20 fighters to launch 120-144 weapons at once?

It's always a game of cat and mouse. SHORAD systems are no wunderwaffe but they definitely have their own role in the battlefield. Especially if you can't rely on having much superior air force, then having decet SHORAD (and GBAD in general) defence can be very important. But alone they are not going to win any war. Combined with good fighter aircraft, longer range AD systems and early warning capabilties, they are much more capable.
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sferrin

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Unread post18 Dec 2019, 20:39

Depends on the system. I wouldn't want to get near a SeaRAM.
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hornetfinn

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Unread post19 Dec 2019, 13:14

sferrin wrote:Depends on the system. I wouldn't want to get near a SeaRAM.


Modern systems are extremely deadly and difficult to kill due to them having very short reaction times, use fast and very maneuverable fire-and-forget missiles, are distributed and securely networked systems with LPI AESA radars and thermal cameras and other passive sensors. Their main weakness is their short range which means they can be avoided if other parts of the IADS is degraded enough. Without fighter aircraft and long range SAM systems they can be avoided. But with those systems in place, the attacking aircraft will have a lot more difficult problem to solve. And this is why 5th gen aircraft are now so sought after.

These modern SHORAD and medium range systems (nowadays there is necessarily not very clear distinction) include:
- NASAMS-2
- Spyder
- IRIS-T SL/SLS/SLM
- VL-MICA
- EMADS (using CAMM missile)

You may notice that all these are Western systems. There are naturally Russian and Chinese systems, but I don't think they are as dangerous and effective. They have older sensor technology and mostly rely on command guidance which limits the number of simultaneous engagements and has limited azimuth coverage (no 360 degree capability). Command guidance is more prone to EW and other countermeasures. Of course both countries are trying to field more advanced systems with similar features.
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sferrin

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Unread post19 Dec 2019, 14:23

The latest TOR, while command-guided (to keep missile cost down) can control 4 at a time.
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hornetfinn

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Unread post20 Dec 2019, 12:40

sferrin wrote:The latest TOR, while command-guided (to keep missile cost down) can control 4 at a time.


True, but only within the FoV of the fire control radar (+- 60 degrees or so). Of course several vehicles can provide mutual coverage and all can engage 4 targets at a time. But still modern Western systems like NASAMS-2, Spyder or IRIS-T SLS/SLM can engage as many targets simultaneously as they have missiles on the launchers all around their engagement range. Of course fire-and-forget missiles can much better engage targets that are not continusouly tracked by the launching unit. Like when low flying target goes behind hills or trees etc. Command-guided missiles need constant LOS between target and launching unit sensors. This can be a problem in hilly terrain or at longer ranges against very low flying targets (cruise missiles or helicopters especially).

Still, TOR is likely pretty dangerous system and I would not take it lightly. Just that most modern systems are even more dangerous within their engagement range.
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botsing

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Unread post20 Dec 2019, 20:49

Thank you for your detailed responses hornetfinn!
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sferrin

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Unread post21 Dec 2019, 00:13

hornetfinn wrote:
sferrin wrote:The latest TOR, while command-guided (to keep missile cost down) can control 4 at a time.


True, but only within the FoV of the fire control radar (+- 60 degrees or so). Of course several vehicles can provide mutual coverage and all can engage 4 targets at a time. But still modern Western systems like NASAMS-2, Spyder or IRIS-T SLS/SLM can engage as many targets simultaneously as they have missiles on the launchers all around their engagement range. Of course fire-and-forget missiles can much better engage targets that are not continusouly tracked by the launching unit. Like when low flying target goes behind hills or trees etc. Command-guided missiles need constant LOS between target and launching unit sensors. This can be a problem in hilly terrain or at longer ranges against very low flying targets (cruise missiles or helicopters especially).

Still, TOR is likely pretty dangerous system and I would not take it lightly. Just that most modern systems are even more dangerous within their engagement range.


Trading IRIS-T or NASAMS-2 for JDAM analogs is not a winning proposition dollar-wise. That's why they did TOR they way they did. Keep the brains on the vehicle instead of throwing them away on each launch and keep the cost of the missile down.
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