How capable are SHORADs?

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boogieman

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Unread post07 Mar 2020, 03:43

marauder2048 wrote:
boogieman wrote: weapons like Spike-NLOS. Better to use an expendable drone to scout out targets and then engage with weapons that can be fired not just from behind terrain features.


How does that work with a weapon that requires a man-in-the-loop RF datalink?
Unless the FCR is the datalink transceiver pretty much the entire helicopter has to be exposed.


Spike also has an imaging IR/EO seekerhead so it is fire-and-forget once the seeker locks on to the target vehicle. It has been tested on Apache already AFAIK:

https://www.overtdefense.com/2019/10/04 ... nterested/

I imagine the ideal implementation would be to scout out the enemy's general location via MUM-T, sit the Apache behind terrain, loft the Spike-NLOS over said terrain and direct the seeker to lock the desired target once it comes into view. From there the missile can take over and guide itself to impact as needed.
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marauder2048

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Unread post07 Mar 2020, 06:17

boogieman wrote:
Spike also has an imaging IR/EO seekerhead so it is fire-and-forget once the seeker locks on to the target vehicle. It has been tested on Apache already AFAIK:

https://www.overtdefense.com/2019/10/04 ... nterested/

I imagine the ideal implementation would be to scout out the enemy's general location via MUM-T, sit the Apache behind terrain, loft the Spike-NLOS over said terrain and direct the seeker to lock the desired target once it comes into view. From there the missile can take over and guide itself to impact.


If it's a coordinate attack where the seeker just goes autonomous in that basket..sure. Though I'm wondering
about a threat environment that requires a missile with this range but where the typical unmanned MUM-T
asset is survivable.

But generally, selecting the desired target is going to require an unobstructed view for the datalink at long range;
a terrain mask that actually affords protection is not likely to furnish one.

So I tend to think the more likely employment is where the M-RFI has an unobstructed view of the threat emitter.
That's a nice combination of good-enough geo-location (with midcourse updates) and long range.
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boogieman

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Unread post07 Mar 2020, 07:03

marauder2048 wrote:
boogieman wrote:
Spike also has an imaging IR/EO seekerhead so it is fire-and-forget once the seeker locks on to the target vehicle. It has been tested on Apache already AFAIK:

https://www.overtdefense.com/2019/10/04 ... nterested/

I imagine the ideal implementation would be to scout out the enemy's general location via MUM-T, sit the Apache behind terrain, loft the Spike-NLOS over said terrain and direct the seeker to lock the desired target once it comes into view. From there the missile can take over and guide itself to impact.


If it's a coordinate attack where the seeker just goes autonomous in that basket..sure. Though I'm wondering
about a threat environment that requires a missile with this range but where the typical unmanned MUM-T
asset is survivable.

But generally, selecting the desired target is going to require an unobstructed view for the datalink at long range;
a terrain mask that actually affords protection is not likely to furnish one.

So I tend to think the more likely employment is where the M-RFI has an unobstructed view of the threat emitter.
That's a nice combination of good-enough geo-location (with midcourse updates) and long range.


The datalink (presumably) just needs a clear line of sight between the launch platform and the missile to function. So long as the seeker gets "told" what to home in on before that line of sight is interrupted (e.g. by a hill) there shouldn't be a problem with firing it from behind a terrain feature that is blocking the line of sight between launch platform and target.

With its standoff range and lofted flight path, I believe this is one of Spike-NLOS's intended selling points. I remember Rafael marketing Spike some years ago as having a "speculative engagement" capability or something to that effect. Basically; suspect a bad guy is over that hill, shoot a Spike over the top of it, use man-in-loop as it crests the hill to see what's on the other side, select a target, then IR/EO seeker to take over til impact.

As for UAS survivability, this is certainly something that has occurred to me. The current partner for AH64E is Gray Eagle which is far from the most survivable aircraft out there. That said it's probably better to risk losing a Gray Eagle than an Apache (or flight thereof)...
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boogieman

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Unread post25 Mar 2020, 02:47

An example of a non-line of sight (NLOS) engagement using Spike:


(1min:6sec)


(3min mark)
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marauder2048

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Unread post25 Mar 2020, 06:54

Do they show a helicopter firing a max-range shot from behind a terrain mask that affords cover (e.g. 1000 ft)?
In US testing, the max range shots were typically fired in hover and above obstructions.

That does make a point of the unmanned asset; provoking the SHORADs into emitting.
There was a recent RFI for the MQ-1C for some very elaborate RWR/ESM, SAR/GMTI kit that would
permit the coordinate attacks shown above to work at max range and from behind cover.
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boogieman

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Unread post25 Mar 2020, 07:52

Not that I'm aware of. That said I'm pretty sure it ought to be possible - the needed hardware is already there. I'm not sure you'd even need to set coordinates - just fly the missile over the hill, pick the target and let the missile do the rest. An excellent antidote to dangerous Russian SHORAD systems...
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hornetfinn

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Unread post25 Mar 2020, 09:57

boogieman wrote:I suspect SHORAD systems are only as effective as the larger IADS they are a part of. For example during the Ukrainian Crisis back in 2014/15, longer range Russian SAM systems (Buk et al) were able to force Ukrainian jets to low altitude where they were vulnerable to hostile SHORAD assets. On the other hand, if friendly SEAD/DEAD/CAP are able to keep the higher flight levels open then SHORAD defences become more of a threat to munitions than aircraft.

Perhaps the one exception to this is for rotary wing aircraft. In this case contending with SHORAD systems is an entirely different story, where SA and terrain masking would be key to survival and mission success. It reminds me a little of WW1 style trench warfare, where sticking your head above the parapet for too long was asking to have it blown off. This is probably why we are seeing the move to MUM-T and weapons like Spike-NLOS. Better to use an expendable drone to scout out targets and then engage with weapons that can be fired not just from behind terrain features, but also from well outside the engagement range of SHORAD systems.


Totally true. It seems that latest SHORAD systems are trying to counter this by increasing range and altitude coverage and employing fire-and-forget missiles and dispersed operations. It's difficult to say how effective modern systems are as they have yet to see real combat against capable enemy. Also the distinction between SHORAD and medium range GBAD is really no longer valid. NASAMS-2 and Spyder for example have about similar range and altitude performance to MIM-23B I-Hawk with their longest ranged missiles.

I bet that these modern systems would be very difficult opponents against helos and 4th gen jets even with support from powerful SEAD/DEAD assets. F-22 and F-35 would likely not have that much problems with them but they are definitely a lot more dangerous than SA-8 or even Pantsir systems due to way they operate.
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marauder2048

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Unread post25 Mar 2020, 20:07

boogieman wrote:That said I'm pretty sure it ought to be possible - the needed hardware is already there. I'm not sure you'd even need to set coordinates


A more precisely located target permits more efficient trajectory shaping and a greater engagement range.

High-level:

I'm not totally convinced that fire-and-forget was a deliberate design decision
by SHORAD/medium range GBAD designer.

The West bought a huge number of fire-and-forget missiles for fighters. Without those large inventories you
might have seen a focus on elevated sensors/illuminators and interrupted-continuous wave seekers to
keep costs down.

For extremely cost-conscious scenarios, say C-UAS, you've seen CW seekers with
multi-purpose AESAs as illuminators e.g Coyote Block II.

Active seekers do add weight which for small missiles is going to be a time-of-flight hit.
And the track quality the radar has to support at handover, for most seekers, is a burden
on the FCR.

So the tradeoff between total engagement time and number of concurrent engagements is not so clear.
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boogieman

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Unread post25 Mar 2020, 22:11

I think it is important to note the distinction between eastern (esp Russian) and western SHORAD systems, as there are doctrinal differences that heavily influence the technology involved. Russian GBAD coverage is generally A LOT denser than what is found in a western army, with SAM/SPAAG systems embedded at practically every level of their ground forces.

The price of this is that the interceptors their SHORAD systems use are typically much cheaper and simpler (compare 9M338 or 57E6 to AMRAAM/AMRAAM-ER, for example), having been designed to intercept massed bombardments of western PGMs at a moment's notice. Consequently, every Russian SHORAD system I am aware of requires a line-of-sight to its target to be able to fire at it. Not so for a system like NASAMS2 – it could readily receive targeting data from an off-board sensor (eg. AWACS) and then use that to send one of its actively guided interceptors to its terminal homing basket. Unfortunately the GBAD network of most (if not all) western armies is simply not dense enough to take full advantage of this, but the potential is certainly there.

Nevertheless, the need for a line of sight between launcher and target makes Russian systems more vulnerable to a weapon like Spike. I do think that network-enabled NLOS weapons like this are the way forward if we are to keep rotary wing assets relevant in the face of evolving SHORAD threats.
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marauder2048

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Unread post26 Mar 2020, 00:28

Characterizing NASAMS as SHORAD really strains the definition of SHORAD to destruction.

AWACS cannot typically provide a fire-control quality track that's useful for handoff to a
7-inch seeker so the fact that is has not been taken advantage of is unrelated to the
sparseness of GBAD networks.

If anything the lack of density should encourage off-board targeting in NASAMS since
it can accommodate pretty large missiles and has a powerful radar in Sentinel to uplink at extended ranges.

The density of Russian-style air defenses means that something big and heavy like Spike will displace
a good chunk of the useful payload for rotary wing. So unless Rotary wing becomes predominantly a SEAD/DEAD
asset it's not even a good mid-term solution for enabling general rotary wing utility.

That's going to have to come from ground-based fires...it's why you've seen efforts to equip ER-GMLRS, PrSM
and ATACMS with seekers. And why you've seen NG pitching ground-launched versions of AARGM-ER.
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boogieman

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Unread post26 Mar 2020, 01:58

marauder2048 wrote:Characterizing NASAMS as SHORAD really strains the definition of SHORAD to destruction.

AWACS cannot typically provide a fire-control quality track that's useful for handoff to a
7-inch seeker so the fact that is has not been taken advantage of is unrelated to the
sparseness of GBAD networks.

If anything the lack of density should encourage off-board targeting in NASAMS since
it can accommodate pretty large missiles and has a powerful radar in Sentinel to uplink at extended ranges.

The density of Russian-style air defenses means that something big and heavy like Spike will displace
a good chunk of the useful payload for rotary wing. So unless Rotary wing becomes predominantly a SEAD/DEAD
asset it's not even a good mid-term solution for enabling general rotary wing utility.

That's going to have to come from ground-based fires...it's why you've seen efforts to equip ER-GMLRS, PrSM
and ATACMS with seekers. And why you've seen NG pitching ground-launched versions of AARGM-ER.


Hmm a few points:

- NASAMS potentially covers everything from VSHORAD (AIM9X) to SHORAD (AIM120) to medium range GBAD (AMRAAM-ER), so yes, it does blur the lines somewhat. We are set to adopt NASAMS2 in Australia, and it is being viewed chiefly as a SHORAD system in that it is there to support Army maneuver. That may change if AMRAAM-ER gets integrated.

- Not so sure about AWACS being unable to provide fire control quality track to an ARH weapon as that is precisely what is being pursued through efforts like NIFC-CA (ref E2D paired with SM6). Older E3 derivatives might struggle but more modern ESA designs like E2D and E7 ought to have a decent shot at it.

- Fair point on payload. I am assuming a 1 for 1 swap moving from Hellfire/JAGM to Spike NLOS but this may not be a safe assumption - perhaps Spike ER2 rather than NLOS would solve this problem. Nevertheless, the ubiquity of modern point defence systems in Russian armoured formations will make it difficult to completely sanitise an area of GBAD assets. Pantsir, Strela, Sosna and Derivatsiya PVO are all going to be tricky to account for, so minimising line-of-sight exposure to them would be extremely useful. IIRC this was part of the rationale behind the Longbow/AGM114L pairing. MANPADS can at least be outranged by JAGM/Hellfire so long as SA is good.

- Agree that SEAD/DEAD should come from ground based fires (preferably massed), but I do think the NLOS ATGM makes sense as a way of improving attack helo survivability (ditto for dismounted infantry and IFVs).
Last edited by boogieman on 26 Mar 2020, 04:08, edited 6 times in total.
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weasel1962

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Unread post26 Mar 2020, 02:07

From an air defense perspective, its a question of layers. The innermost layer being the final last line of defense is normally what SHORAD is associated with. NASAMs can go MR but it can also go SR which means it is also integrated into the inner layer.

It doesn't mean other SHORADs have no role in the middle layer since one can execute defense in depth. What that means is that SHORADs can be forward placed. There is a question of utility since its 3D vectors (so range & altitude considerations). Forward placing will affect range but not altitude (which is system limited). NASAMs has a fairly decent altitude. However, in most cases, SHORADs are point defence systems (which is how NASAM is used as well).
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Unread post26 Mar 2020, 08:11

boogieman wrote:I think it is important to note the distinction between eastern (esp Russian) and western SHORAD systems, as there are doctrinal differences that heavily influence the technology involved. Russian GBAD coverage is generally A LOT denser than what is found in a western army, with SAM/SPAAG systems embedded at practically every level of their ground forces.


I think this is because Russian systems date back to 1970s and 1980s. That's when systems like Tor and Tunguska were developed and taken into service. Now they have more advanced versions of those like Tor-2E and Pantsir but they're still based on the same operating principles and technologies. Western AD systems of the time used very similar principles and technologies. Then we had systems like Gepard SPAAG, Roland, Crotale and Rapier missile systems. Now new Western have chosen to use different operating principles and technologies as those have became available and cheap enough. I don't think Russia can afford developing totally new systems and procure them in quantities they need at the moment. They haven't even bought that many R-77 missiles to their Air Force for example and don't have anything like AIM-9X or IRIS-T which have LOAL capability.
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Unread post26 Mar 2020, 08:43

There are shifts. The western advances in targeting pods and the effectiveness of 40k means low altitude point defence systems becoming obsolete. These still have a role against attack helos but once these helos start employing NLOS ATGMs, then all low altitude air defenses are really impotent (excepting against below battalion level UAVs). That means increasing range for visual/alternate targeting systems.

The west are a lot slower to adopt because the potential aggressors haven't seen the same level of investments/tech improvements in targeting pods yet but it will eventually come or some countries stop investment altogether (focussing on CRAM instead).

For longer ranged sams, these are trying to find a role in the anti-stealth counter-anti-radition missile world. The russkis and chinese seem to be adjusting by fielding more and more powerful longer-ranged systems.
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Unread post26 Mar 2020, 09:36

I don't know, I think it's always desirable to have the inner layer of a layered IADS. SHORAD systems may be increasingly tasked with CRAM and taking out munitions instead of aircraft but this is still an important job.
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