July 15, 2006

Israeli Warship Hit By Chinese/Iranian Cruise Missile

Hatched by Dafydd

This is exactly the danger the United States has been warning about ever since 9/11: that rogue states like Iran may begin transferring modern military weaponry to terrorist groups:

In another development, an Israeli military official claimed that Iranian Revolutionary Guards were involved on some level in a missile strike that badly damaged an Israeli naval boat off Lebanon’s capital Beirut on Friday, killing one Israeli sailor and leaving three missing.

The official said the exact role of the Revolutionary Guards was not clear, but the Iranian forces were working closely with Hezbollah in Lebanon, as they have for more than two decades.

Israel’s military initially said that the ship was hit by an unmanned drone aircraft packed with explosives. But the military revised its assessment on Saturday, saying the ship was hit by a radar-guided, C802 missile fired from the Lebanese shore. The missile came from Iran, the military said.

The C-802 -- a.k.a. Ying-Ji-802 or YJ-2, a.k.a. the SACCADE -- is a cruise missile developed by China from the earlier YJ-1 model; the YJ-2 has a turbojet rather than the rocket engine burning solid fuel, as used by the YJ-1.

The weight of the subsonic (0.9 Mach) Yingji-802 is reduced from 815 kilograms to 715 kilograms, but its range is increased from 42 kilometers to 120 kilometers. The 165 kg. (363 lb.) warhead is just as powerful as the earlier version. Since the missile has a small radar reflectivity and is only about five to seven meters above the sea surface when it attacks the target, and since its guidance equipment has strong anti-jamming capability, target ships have a very low success rate in intercepting the missile. The hit probability of the Yingji-802 is estimated to be as high as 98 percent. The Yingji-802 can be launched from airplanes, ships, submarines and land-based vehicles, and is considered along with the US "Harpoon" as among the best anti-ship missiles of the present-day world.

China was to have sold about 150 YJ-2s to Iran following the Gulf War; but when President Bill Clinton's chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Gen. John Shalikashivili, complained to the People's Liberation Army of China (a major Clinton campaign donor) that this was destabilizing, the PLA agreed to stop the sales after shipping only 75 of the missiles.

However, Chinese client state North Korea seems to have taken up the slack with Iran -- yet another Clintonian diplomatic success story:

In early 2000 it was reported that North Korea and Iran were jointly developing an advanced version of the C-802 cruise missile. These missiles initially acquired by Iran were not equipped with advanced systems, and the missiles acquired by Iran were rather outdated. Iran turned to North Korea for missile system technology, and the two countries are jointly developing an upgraded version with improved accuracy. ["N. Korea, Iran Jointly Develop Missile: Report" Korea Times February 17, 2000]

Yet another example of President George W. Bush's prescience in noting an "axis of evil" that included not only Iraq and Iran but also the Democratic People's Republic of Korea... a claim widely ridiculed by Democrats (and even some Republicans of the Henry Kissinger, Brent Scowcroft "realist" school of thought) shortly after Bush's 2002 State of the Union Address.

The reported missile-technology cooperation between North Korea and Iran occurred before 9/11... in fact, before George W. Bush was even elected. The "Axis of Evil" exists and predates Bush; he was simply the first to recognize it.

If Israel is indeed correct that their ship was struck by an Iranian C-802, and there is no reason to doubt either their accuracy or their veracity, then that raises a profound question, none of whose answers bode well: who fired the missile?

There are only two possibilities:

  1. Hezbollah fired the missile, which means that Iran has transferred some of its precious ASCMs (anti-ship cruise missiles) to their pet terrorist group.

    I find it unlikely in the extreme that Iran would do that if they only have 75 -- 15 of which are attached to patrol boats; if this is the case, then that lends some credence to the story that China actually sold far more YJ-2s to Iran than it ever admitted, or they've manufactured many more themselves;

  2. Iran itself fired the missile, either from a Revolutionary Guard missile battery in Lebanon, equipped with Chinese-supplied YJ-2s, or perhaps from indigenous Iranian YJ-2 knock-offs which North Korea helped them develop. In this case, Iran has openly entered into war with Israel, and Israel must respond in kind.

The latter instance puts us on the horns of a pickle: if Israel retaliates against Iran, the mullahcracy will still blame us, since they believe Israel is our sock puppet which would not act without orders from America. This is preposterous; Israel has many times done things we wish they wouldn't (not that an attack on Iran would necessarily fall into that category); but that is what Iran believes, so they will hold the United States responsible and attempt to retaliate against us the only way they can: by a massive terrorist attack.

If in fact Israel declares war on Iran and attacks them, I think it's best for us to grab the bull by the tail and look the facts in the face: if Iran will counterattack against us anyway, we may as well join with the Israelis and make a good job of the attack.

If we hurt Iran badly enough, they may be reluctant or even unable to transfer the large amounts of money, weaponry, and logistics necessary for Hezbollah to be able to pull off an effective terrorist attack. Cripple Iran's ability to use Hezbollah (or Hamas) as a proxy, and you cripple Iran's retaliatory capability... because they certainly will not initiate a missile exchange with a country that has thousands more missiles than they -- and a working ballistic missile defense to boot.

In an upcoming post, Sachi will discuss the amazing Arab reaction to the Israeli-Lebanon-Hezbollah-Hamas war; suffice to say Arab public opinion is up for grabs, unlike in times past, where the mere hint of involvement of Israel would send every Arab Moslem in the world into a frothing frenzy of Jew hatred. Perhaps the trick doesn't work anymore.

Given that new reality, now may be the time to resolve our Iranian problems... at least for a number of years, until they can reconstitute their WMD programs -- if a future president lets them.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 15, 2006, at the time of 2:11 PM

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The following hissed in response by: dasbow

So who do we have to take out in Iran besides the Mullahs? What will it take to free the people of Iran to stand up, as so many seem to be willing to do?

The above hissed in response by: dasbow [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 15, 2006 3:48 PM

The following hissed in response by: MTF

Missles for the Mullahs is a good start-- but we better knock out those cruise missles fast too. The Persian Gulf is a small enough place as it is, without hostile Iranian patrol boats running around, and those things are hugely dangerous to us given our reliance on the Gulf for troop resupply. I think that means we will have boots on the ground in Iran, at least where land based cruise missile sites are located if Iran and Israel start to go at it.

The above hissed in response by: MTF [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 15, 2006 4:34 PM

The following hissed in response by: Major Mike


Your analysis, as always, is impeccable, and I would know if it was peccable, because I read all the Left's columnists too. Simply, Israel must attack Iran. If Israel waits, Iran becomes stronger and the inevitable future war more costly. The fallacy of warfare which has entrapped the West is that you only fight to your opponents capabilities. A fair fight may excite boxing fans, but the survival of a nation is not sport. When Israel attacks Iran, we had better be ready to defend from terrorist attacks and attack Iran ourselves. Another fallacy of our times is that a sovereign nation cannot be attacked if it harbors terrorists but doesn't overtly use its own forces. The stupidity of allowing terrorists sanctuary didn't make sense even when North Vietnam had the USSR and China as protectors, and it makes no sense at all now that those two powers are not players.
George Bush the Elder listened to all the smart guys and outsmarted himself. Real politick was born of Cold War cynicism, perpetuating un-democratic states as a balance against the power of others. Nothing is solved, only the tensions are preserved to play havoc another day.
"The time has come, the walrus said..."
Oops, wrong closing.
And you beat me to: "There comes a time in the affairs of a man when he has to take the bull by the tail and face the situation. -- W.C. Fields
So I will close: "In all human affairs there are efforts, and there are results, and the strength of the effort is the measure of the result." --James Allen

The above hissed in response by: Major Mike [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 15, 2006 4:48 PM

The following hissed in response by: rich

I saw a report that Israel hit Lebanese Army radar stations on the Mediterranean Coast because the radar was used to guide the Iranian missile.

Do not know how the missile works but I bet Israel does.

The above hissed in response by: rich [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 15, 2006 6:38 PM

The following hissed in response by: Mr. Michael

Steven den Beste over at Powerline:

For Israeli air strikes to actually hit anything that the Iranian rulers care about is much further, and a direct flight path goes over the West Bank, over Jordan, and over Iraq. It's out of range for any jet Israel has without inflight refueling, which isn't likely.

He goes on to say that the only way for Israel to hit Iran would be by missile... and they just don't have enough of them or have enough 'bang' in them to do any good, short of going nuclear. I agree with his analysis that Israel isn't ready to Nuke Iran just yet.

Of course, if Iran is giving missiles to Lebanese terrorists, the US just might find a few non-nuke spares around the area... but we'd have to give 'em to Israel to be set off from Israel; Iraq is (probably) not going to let them be set off from Iraq. I suppose we could use the Navy's stuff from anywhere, or a b-52 could be flown in for that kind of thing, but then it's the US firing on Iran directly, not Israel. If we have the intelligence to really hit good targets, we just may.

Now, if Israel has something on the shelf we don't know about... :shrug:

The above hissed in response by: Mr. Michael [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 15, 2006 8:34 PM

The following hissed in response by: Bill Faith

Excellent, Dafydd. I was going to link to it but my buddy Rurik beat me to it. Old War Dogs >> Strategic Distraction, a game more than one can play

The above hissed in response by: Bill Faith [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 15, 2006 9:20 PM

The following hissed in response by: MTF

Thinking outside the box...

I'm wondering if there might be any possibility at all that Lebanon might try using its army against Hezbollah, as Israel keeps prodding them to do.

This may be nothing more than a pipe dream (since the the last thing the Lebanese government may want is more civil war), but it would expose the Iranians, the Syrians and Hezbollah to a war on two fronts in Lebanon.

It would be fascinating to see Syria's and Iran's reactions to such a move, but I'd bet the government would get appreciable support from its own people and perhaps even from other Arab governments for such a move.

The above hissed in response by: MTF [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 16, 2006 10:55 AM

The following hissed in response by: FredTownWard

The biggest problem I see with your analysis, Dafydd, is that BECAUSE of the extreme difficulties involved IMHO Israel would only attack Iran as a last resort to prevent them from finishing their quest for nuclear weapons, not for something as insignificant (and as unprovable) as Iranians pulling the trigger on Hezbollah missiles and only on the assumption that Bush WON'T.

But that assumption is WRONG, and the Israelis KNOW it. Though the Left (naturally) doesn't get it and some on the Right (like William Kristol who ALWAYS doubts Bush at the first sign of trouble) don't get it, Bush is carefully, patiently, and painstakingly laying the diplomatic predicate for a massive, sustained aerial assault on Iran's nuclear weapons research sites WHEN not IF diplomacy fails, which he will launch before leaving office. Of course there is no guarantee that this bombardment will finally topple the Iranian regime (the only way to completely end the threat) but it will set them back a number of years. Any Iranian "rally round the flag" effect by its increasingly pro-American population will only be temporary while the effects of the war will be more permanent: humiliating defeat, destruction of any modern military assets it doesn't successfully hide, no gasoline (Iran is swimming in oil but has little refining capacity and will have none after the war begins), ongoing US and Iraqi support for Iranian revolutionaries until the job is done, and a DOA economy.

Iran has only two slim hopes:

A. to develop nukes before we or the Israelis think they can.

B. the election of a Democrat President in 2008 to give them at least 4 years of breathing space.

The above hissed in response by: FredTownWard [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 17, 2006 12:45 PM

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