Zip, zero, nada

Silence in Syria, Panic in Iran

f-15i_small.jpg F-15I

Notice how far away Dayr az-Zawr is from Israel. An F15/16 attack there is not a tiptoe across the border, but a deep, deep penetration of Syrian airspace. And guess what happened with the Russian super-hyper-sophisticated cutting edge antiaircraft missile batteries when that penetration took place on September 6th.


El blanko. Silence. The systems didn’t even light up, gave no indication whatever of any detection of enemy aircraft invading Syrian airspace, zip, zero, nada. The Israelis (with a little techie assistance from us) blinded the Russkie antiaircraft systems so completely the Syrians didn’t even know they were blinded.

Now you see why the Syrians have been scared speechless. They thought they were protected – at enormous expense – only to discover they are defenseless. As in naked.

Thus the Great Iranian Freak-Out – for this means Iran is just as nakedly defenseless as Syria.

This isn’t the first time Israel has struck into Syrian airspace with nary a response. And I doubt it will be the last time.

I have previously stated that as we deactivate the F-117s, we should sell some of them to Israel. I still think that’s a good idea, but maybe they aren’t really needed.

Meanwhile, I’ve totally been waiting for someone to float the idea that US stealth planes actually conducted this raid (possibly from Iraq, whose border isn’t so far from Dayr az-Zawr, but I’ve been disappointed.

Though stealth is obviously a great advantage, this is just another demonstration that it isn’t the end-all beat-all when it comes to military aircraft.

(Via Wizbang)


  1. Yeah, I’m sure taking down Iran will be every bit as easy as Iraq has been. Maybe we should start printing the ‘mission accomplished’ signs now.

  2. Those strike fighters are going to get through every time if the operators are: incompetent, inexperienced, poorly trained,(take your pick) . Remember that german kid that landed a cessna in Moscow Square during the late 80’s/early 90’s?

  3. Actually, taking down Iran or Syria would be as easy as it was to take down Iraq. Rebuilding them, however, would likely be almost as difficult as it is in Iraq.

  4. Ahh, the beauty of silence. Who knows if it really was Israeli F-15/16’s? Maybe they have some sort of stealth aircraft already. That wouldn’t be much of a surprise. Maybe the fuel tanks found in Turkey are just a ruse. Maybe it was cruise missiles. Maybe drones. Maybe it was a long stand off bomb or missile. Maybe it was a good old fashioned commando demolition run. And was the US involved? That’s a very real benefit of continued US operations in Iraq, IMO. That opens up a whole new realm of possibilities. Predators, B2’s, all manner of helicopters. It’s even within range of US Army missiles launched from within Iraq. Hell, maybe it was the French! The FUD factor is a very good thing.

  5. You don’t need stealth vs Syria. At the time when we were facing the warsaw pact, the problem of penetrating enemy airspace was not the individual systems but the multiple overlapping dense placement of differing types of air defenses. Basically, we had a problem of two many enemy radar sets operating on different frequencies from multiple source points. Our jamming systems were incapable of suppressing the threats with a reasonable loss rate. Basically, every wargame had us going nuclear within 7-10 days with most of air forces strike assets being rendered ineffective within 5 days. It was really grim. That lead to the development of stealth, the heavy investment in cruise missiles, anti-radiation munitions and some specialized space assets. Long story short. Syria has nothing like the defenses East Germany had. So you can bypass and neutralize the air defenses by attacking a few key choke points. By disrupting the communication systems, you force each site to operate on its own. Since the local radars are relatively short ranged, their effective reaction time will be limited and if you disrupt command and control, its very probable that the site will be unable to act effectively. If you know the location, frequency, operator habits, command and control lines associated with missile site, its pretty easy to suppress the site. The Russia missile systems specs and operating protocols are well known, and can be countered. Long post short, in the absence of massive interconnected defenses, with multiple ranks of redundancies, your non-stealth craft can penitrate most air spaces. The reason we built the F-117’s was to have them penetrate the East German air defense and be able to take out the key nodes that would render the system vulnerable to the non-stealth aircraft. IMO Stealth aircraft are a great force multiplier, but you give up a lot of capability and have to spend a lot of money to achieve stealth. Once the air defenses are down, the stealth premium is no longer needed. So why in heavens name would you want an all stealth air force?

  6. Excellent points about stealth, James. One thing I’d like to mention, though, is the stealth cost is, for the most part, an industry lie. Stealth does not demand that aircraft be made from composites, especially when it comes to small fighter airplanes. The composites are a performance item, and their value there is controversial. They certainly detract from maintainability and survival when compared to aluminum and titanium. Stealth coatings are expensive, but not all that expensive in the grand scheme of things that make these airplanes cost a lot, and they add less to the stealthiness of an airplane than shaping. Given that shaping is the most important aspect of stealth, and that stealth shaping in the post F-117 era is not incompatible with good aerodynamics, there is really no reason why stealth aircraft should be significantly more expensive than non-stealth aircraft. The cost would be more noticable with a transports or bombers because you’re holding tighter tolerances, etc., but for a fighter it’s pretty close to a wash. In fact, I cannot see any good reason not to incorporate at least some degree of signature reducing shaping into every current generation US fighter. It would be inexcusable not to, in my opinion.

  7. Outstanding posts James and Dfens. Many people don’t realise that good aircraft and pilots are only part of a successful attack equation. The enemy defenses, the attackers understanding of the defenses, and the attackers application of tactics to overcome the defenses are the rest of the equation and you guys lay that out very succinctly.

  8. I totally agree with Dfens. The idea of a ‘semi-stealth’ is really good. Like, if you cut the radar signature of the F15 in 50%, it would be still a lot more visible than the F22, but it would still give that extra advantage that can make the difference.

  9. I think it would be hard to do much to reduce the F-15’s signature, but the F-16, as I have mentioned before, would be a good candidate. It already has a chine. If you slide the wing back to fill in the flat area on the side aft of the current wing and integrate a canard into the forward vortex strake area then all you’re left with is some reshaping of the nose and intake and you have some pretty darn good stealth. It’s hard to get a look at the compressor fan on an F-16 anyway and the wing moved aft could be integrated into the exhaust nozzel area to keep the reflections down back there for anything but a direct rear view. Oh, and you’d need to go to twin canted verticals. The canard spreads out the vortices, so even with twin tails you don’t have the same tendency to snap off the verticals at high aoa like the F-18 has. Piece of cake. Not that it will ever happen as long as LockMart can sell the US government on their F-35 development program. Who knows, we might even see those fly in another decade or so.

  10. I can see how an aircraft’s shape and arrangement can produce a big reduction in RCS from a monostatic radar set. That said, I am not sure how you can can shape your way past a bistatic radar. That said, if you can reduce RCS cheaply I am all for it.

  11. Well, it seems to me that if you do your job right when you shape the airplane you would still not get a good look at it from a separate reciever. Rounding on the bottom of the airplane could be a problem, but if you keep it fairly flat down there the reflections should only go to discrete locations. That way a ground receiver might catch a short look at the airplane, but maybe not something they could build a firing solution on. I had forgotten about the XL, Sean. Yeah, that would be pretty good. Not too many edges or angles. You’d need to run that chine up the nose cone and reshape the intake a little. You’d want to do some things back by the exhaust nozzel to make it look like an F-35 back there. It would be better than an F-35 because you wouldn’t have that big elevator surface moving all over the place.