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[the following news item appeared earlier.]
could this help explain the US/Br. incredible ability to continually kill iraqis while claiming to protect them with the no-fly zones? i suppose it is very difficult to judge, considering the US will not talk at all about their rules of engagement for operations northern and southern watch. we do not know under what circumstances pilots are allowed to fire.
hamilton, ontario, canada
Belgrade -- Baghdad Military Ties May Be Paying Off in Air Defense,
Stratfor, 12 May '00
Gen. Shahin Yassin Mohammed, commander of Iraq's air defense forces,
announced May 11 that Iraq had successfully developed and deployed a means
of neutralizing the U.S.HARM anti-radar missile. According to Gen. Mohammed,
none of the HARM missiles fired at Iraqi air defense targets since Operation
Desert Fox in December 1998 have hit their targets, instead wandering "like
mules looking for water in the desert," reported Agence France Presse.
Gen. Mohammed warned Kuwait and Saudi Arabia that the United States and
Britain were deceiving them, both as to the threat posed by Iraq and as to
their true capabilities in defending the region. While the exact details and
extent of Gen. Mohammed's claims are questionable, Iraq's cooperation with
Yugoslavia on air defense suggests there may be a grain of truth to his
The AGM-88 HARM is a medium-range, air-to-surface anti-radiation missile. It
is designed to home in on the electronic emissions from the target
acquisition and guidance radars of anti-aircraft artillery and
surface-to-air missile sites and destroy them. More than 2,000 were used
against Iraq during the 1991 Gulf War, and the missiles were used heavily
during Operation Allied Force in Yugoslavia.
The U.S. and NATO air forces place a top priority on suppression of enemy
air defenses (SEAD) in the early stages of combat to allow allied aircraft
to target enemy ground forces and strategic targets with relative impunity.
The HARM is critical to that mission.
Because of the Yugoslav Army's (JA) careful husbanding of its air defense
assets and its use of decoys, NATO forces were never confident that they had
succeeded in their SEAD mission over Yugoslavia. Because of this, NATO
aircrafts were forced to remain at high altitudes, seriously diminishing the
effectiveness of their bombing campaign and contributing to several
incidents of the mistaken targeting of civilians.
The JA developed a variety of tactics and decoys to blunt the NATO air
assault. Among the simplest of these was the construction of visual decoys
of wood, fabric and plastic that drew NATO bombs and artificially drove up
the tally of "destroyed" Yugoslav equipment.
Yugoslav forces also learned to cycle their radars on and off quickly to
trigger the launch of anti-radiation missiles but to foil target lock-on.
NATO blamed this tactic for the accidental impact of a HARM missile on an
apartment in the Gorna Banya, suburb of Sofia, about 30 miles inside
Bulgaria, on April 28, 1999. However, when a second HARM missile struck near
the village of Lyulin, Bulgaria, on May 7, 1999, rumors emerged that the JA
was using decoys to divert NATO missiles.
One possibility as to the nature of these decoys comes from a British
officer who spent six months in Kosovo and conducted his own bomb damage
assessment. He claimed the JA used microwave ovens looted from Albanian
homes to simulate the infra-red signature of armored vehicles and draw NATO
bombs, according to the Glasgow Herald on Feb. 18. Author William Dorich
claims the microwave ovens were rigged to "mimic the heat of a radar site."
The trouble is microwave ovens do not create heat on their own. They vibrate
the water molecules in food to generate heat. They do, however, emit
radiation in the range of 2.5 gigahertz frequency - what the military refers
to as E band.
Several Russian radar systems operate in E band, including early warning,
target acquisition and height finding radars for the SA-5 surface-to-air
missile system, height finding and fire control radars for the SA-2, height
finding radars for the SA-3 and target acquisition radars for the SA-6. That
is not to say that you should fear inbound HARM missiles every time you heat
up a cup of tea.
Microwave ovens only generate around one kilowatt of power, as compared to
the several hundred to over a megawatt output of the military radar
installations. Moreover, as John Pike, an analyst with the Federation of
American Scientists, pointed out, the emitter profile library in the HARM's
targeting system catalogs not only frequency but also bandwidth and
waveform. Given the difference in effective radiated power between microwave
ovens and military radars, as well as the unfamiliar signal generated by the
ovens, Pike declared he was skeptical the ovens would even be noticed, let
alone that they would be targeted.
But the JA did not steal and deploy a large number of microwave ovens for
nothing. Perhaps the ovens were modified to increase the resemblance of
their signal to that of a radar. Alternatively, it is possible the threat
warning systems in the aircraft that fired the missiles were more sensitive
and less discriminating than the seekers in the HARM missiles. In explaining
the Gorna Banja accident, NATO spokesman Jamie Shea told reporters that the
missile had been launched when the NATO fighter's defense system indicated
it had been locked on to by a Yugoslav SAM system. The missile then went
astray when the ground radar was turned off. Or perhaps the HARM's targeting
system simply did not agree with the aircraft's threat analysis.
Whether the Yugoslav military's effectiveness at dodging NATO's SEAD efforts
was the result of clever tactics, jamming, decoys, microwave ovens or a bit
of each, apparently the lessons learned during Operation Allied Force are
being transferred to its ally Iraq. Iraq and Yugoslavia, encouraged and
assisted by Russia, Error! Bookmark not defined. before, during and after
the Kosovo crisis. High-level contacts between the three countries have been
stepped up in the past several weeks. Following visits of the Yugoslav
deputy prime minister to Baghdad in March and the Iraqi defense minister to
Belgrade and Moscow in April, Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammad Saeed
al-Sahhaf arrived in Belgrade May 9 for intensive talks with his Yugoslav
counterpart Zivadin Jovanovic. Jovanovic will reportedly travel to Moscow on
Collaboration among Yugoslavia, Iraq and Russia is apparently intense, and
if Gen. Mohammed is to be believed, it is generating tangible results. Iraq
has now claimed it can render HARM missiles impotent, and thus its air
defense system - being rebuilt with help from Russia - is a serious threat
to U.S. and British aircraft patrolling the no-fly zones. But Baghdad will
need more than a blustering press conference to convince its neighbors that
the United States is not a reliable defender. If Mohammed's assertions are
to be credible, Iraq will have to demonstrate the renewed effectiveness of
its air defense system. Iraq may be set to exploit the first "war dividend"
of the Kosovo conflict.
The Global Movement to End the War
against Iraq - firstname.lastname@example.org
Hamilton Action for Social Change - email@example.com
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
'If, year in, year out, the UN were systematically killing
Iraqi children by air strikes, western governments would
declare it intolerable, no matter how noble the intention.
They should find their existing policy just as
- The Economist (8 April 2000)