Khibiny blinder/silencer

Over the past 50 years, the Indian military services have been armed mostly with Russian weapons and supporting hardware. These Russian systems have proved their utility and ruggedness, which last is not an attribute to be under-estimated. And yet, growingly, sections of the military officer cadre are being seduced by the supposedly superior Western counterpart systems, despite being aware that these are optimized for temperate fighting climates of Europe and northeastern Asia, and do not/cannot fare as well in the tropics where the heat and the dust are, if not disabling factors, can cause severe attrition in performance.

A case in point — special hangars for the French Mirage 2000 and potentially, Rafale, combat aircraft versus the frontline Su-30 MKI judged the finest fighter plane in business braving the Indian sun, sitting on the simmering tarmac without cover of any sort, all the year round, ready to fly off at a moment’s notice. Oh, sure, in the last few years the IAF has erected basic asbestos/corrugated tin-roofed shelters with sides open for the these hardy Sukhois (as at 2 Wing base at Lohegaon, Pune)!

And just what is the edge Western vendors have always claimed for their military equipment and weapons platforms and repeated ad infinitum by their well-wishers and pushers here, in and out of uniform? Their electronics/ avionics/software-driven systems, right? It turns out that is not any more the case. US military circles are still agog with how a Russian Su-24 tactical strike aircraft flew over an Aegis missile destroyer and in its first pass over the American warship venturing into the Black Sea during the Crimean crisis in April 2014 and before getting in range of its on-board weapons, completely and remotely shut down the radar at the heart of the Aegis system — rendering the intruding ship instantly blind and deaf.

The news of this is just getting out in the western media even as the Russian press had reported this incident at the time. The outcome was a shaken US Navy has not again deployed any vessels in the Black Sea. The attenuating circumstances trotted out are that Cook was in solo and that Aegis works best when there are more Aegis units sharing, triangulating, target info, etc. Except, the more complex the system, the easier it is, according to Russian EW/ECW specialists to knock them out. The means to do so — i.e.,impose a blackout on the USS Cook was the Khibiny electronic counter-measures system on the Su-24 which, after blinding and silencing the Aegis, made 12 attack passes to drive home the point to the crew on board the American missile destroyer about the extremely vulnerable state it had been reduced to, and so easily. So much for US’ avionics/electronics edge.

Khibiny, by the way, will be fitted/retro-fitted on all Russian combat aircraft, starting with the Su-35 plane — the very aircraft the IAF wouldn’t let the Strategic Forces Command buy for its nuclear mission!

I thank a correspondent for alerting me to this incident, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8s4sKAMgYsU
and for info on Russian EC/ECW systems refer https://russiandefpolicy.wordpress.com/2015/10/27/how-good-is-russian-electronic-warfare-part-i/

About Bharat Karnad

Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, he was Member of the (1st) National Security Advisory Board and the Nuclear Doctrine-drafting Group, and author, among other books of, 'Nuclear Weapons and Indian Security: The Realist Foundations of Strategy', 'India's Nuclear Policy' and most recently, 'Why India is Not a Great Power (Yet)'. Educated at the University of California (undergrad and grad), he was Visiting Scholar at Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania, the Shanghai Institutes of International Studies, and Henry L. Stimson Center, Washington, DC.
This entry was posted in arms exports, Asian geopolitics, Europe, Geopolitics, Great Power imperatives, India's strategic thinking and policy, Indian Air Force, Nuclear Policy & Strategy, Nuclear Weapons, Relations with Russia, Russia, russian assistance, russian military, society, South Asia, Strategic Forces Command, Strategic Relations with the US & West, United States, US., West Asia. Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Khibiny blinder/silencer

  1. &^%$#@! says:

    Very fine and largely accurate article!

  2. andy says:

    Russian weapons are meant to work – they are workhorses. In 1958, before Western corporate interests and journalism became bedfellows, here’s what TIME magazine wrote: “Russian weapons are generally simpler in design and more mobile. For too long the West believed that the Soviets made simple weapons because they were too unsophisticated to make complex ones. Now the West realizes that the simplicity bespeaks a high state of engineering skill.”
    A classic case is that of the MiG-25 Foxbat mach 3 interceptor. Designed to combat the American Valkyrie bomber that never materialised, it became a major scare word among NATO pilots throughout the 1970s. The chief reason was the Foxbat could fly faster and climb higher – often to the edge of space – than any Western aircraft. It was a mystery in the West until 1976 when a defector flew a MiG-25 to Japan.
    When the US National Air & Space Intelligence Center dismantled the aircraft they found the on-board avionics were based on vacuum-tube technology rather than solid-state electronics. There was derisive laughter in the Pentagon when they came to know the Russians were using outdated technology in their most advanced aircraft.
    But the Americans continued to deliberate why the Russians were using vacuum tubes. It took them many years to find out that the person who had designed the Foxbat was as clever as a fox. With the vacuum tubes the MiG-25’s radar had enormous power to burn through – that is, it was invulnerable to – any electronic jamming. And, the Pentagon generals were devastated to know, the vacuum tubes made the aircraft’s systems resistant to an electromagnetic pulse (EMP, about which the Russians knew long before the West did), meaning that in the event of a nuclear war the Foxbat would be the only – yes the only – aircraft flying on the planet.

    Incident 1: COMPARING AIRCRAFTS IN REAL INCIDENTS

    “The time: 2 pm, December 22, 1971. The place: Jamnagar, a city on the west coast of India. One of the most eagerly awaited dogfights in aviation history is about to take place. The Americans have supplied their ally Pakistan with the most advanced fighter aircraft in their inventory, the F-104 Starfighter, while the Indians have opted for the Russian MiG-21. It will be the first aerial combat between mach 2 (twice thespeed of sound) aircraft.
    Two F-104’s of the Pakistan Air Force enter Indian air space for an attack on a forward airbase in the western Indian city of Jamnagar. As the first Pakistani aircraft dives in towards the airfield, a patrolling MiG-21 pilot spots the attacking aircraft and gets after him.
    Observing the MiG on his tail, the Pakistani F-104 breaks off the attack, turns and tries to shake off its pursuer. However, the Indian pilot pulls the MiG-21 into a tighter turn well inside the enemy plane and launches an air-to-air missile. It misses.
    In the meantime, the pilot of the second Pakistani Starfighter, the wingman, sees another MiG-21 turning towards him. Realising he’s up against a much superior aircraft, he makes his escape.
    His captain, however, is not so lucky. He attempts to get away using sheer speed but realises the MiG-21 is equally fast. The chase now takes them over the shark-infested waters of the Arabian Sea. Instead of using his missiles, the Indian pilot takes aim with his cannon and fires a long burst. Wise decision – flashes on the F-104’s metallic surface indicate a direct hit. Seconds later the American-built aircraft spins out of control and crashes into the sea.
    The Indians send out rescue boats but the pilot is not found. At that speed when you hit the water’s surface it’s like hitting concrete.
    The result of that dogfight led aviation experts to pass the verdict: the best Russian interceptor was better than the best American attack aircraft.
    You won’t find mention of such encounters in the Western media for obvious reasons.”

    Incident 2: UNDERWATER CAPABILITY

    Without breaking international law a Russian nuclear-powered submarine successfully accomplished its training mission near the coast of the United States. The submarine, which is equipped with long-range cruise missiles, shuttled for one month in the Gulf of Mexico without being detected by the U.S. Navy; the Washington Free Beacon reported citing unnamed high-ranked sources in the Pentagon. The American Navy detected the submarine only when it was leaving the waters of the Gulf.

    Incident 3: Conventional Navy (US better)

    What makes the U.S. Navy stand out the most is its 10 aircraft carriers—more than the rest of the world put together. Not only are there more of them, they’re also much bigger: a single Nimitz class aircraft carrier can carry twice as many planes (72) as the next largest foreign carrier. Unlike the air wings of other countries, which typically concentrate on fighters, a typical U.S. carrier air wing is a balanced package capable of air superiority, strike, reconnaissance, anti-submarine warfare and humanitarian assistance/disaster relief missions.
    The U.S. Navy’s 31 amphibious ships make it the largest “gator” fleet in the world, capable of transporting and landing on hostile beaches. The nine amphibious assault ships of the Tarawa and wasp classes can carry helicopters to ferry troops or act as miniature aircraft carriers, equipped with AV-8B Harrier attack jets and soon F-35B fighter-bombers.

    Incident 4: Missiles(Russia is way ahead)

    In the entire history of the human race, there has never been a weapon as destructive as the Russian SS-18 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). To understand the true power of this doomsday weapon, try comparing it to the nuclear warhead the United States used to obliterate Hiroshima.
    The Hiroshima bomb had an explosive yield of ‘only’ 15 kilo tonnes (KT) or 15,000 tonnes of TNT equivalent, and yet it killed 70,000 people. In comparison, a single SS-18 carries up to 10 separate nuclear warheads of around 750 KT each. Some missiles are armed with one humongous 20,000 KT warhead.
    During the early years of the missile age, the United States led Russia in technology and numbers but by the early 1970s when the SS-18 started entering service in significant numbers, Moscow had closed the missile gap and started pulling ahead inexorably. In 1990 Moscow had a stockpile of around 40,000 nuclear warheads (vs 28,000 for the US) but by just using the 3,000 warheads on its SS-18s it could wipe out all human life in the continental United States in 30 minutes.
    Codenamed Satan by NATO, the SS-18 weighs a gargantuan 209,000 kg. The highly accurate Russian missile can not only penetrate and destroy American missile silos, which are hardened to 300 psi, but its own silos are hardened to a stupendous 6000 psi making the missile all but impregnable. Amazingly, for a missile of its weight and length (102 feet) it can sidewind (move in a series of S-shaped curves to evade antimissile defences) and its micro-electronics are hardened to function even under nuclear attack.

    The Satan’s reported ability to dig up strategic missile complexes became known as America’s “window of vulnerability”. The frightening power of this missile sent shivers down the collective spine of the American leadership, and quickly forced Washington to the negotiating table. The Strategic Arms Limitation Talks of the early 1970s resulted in a drastic slowdown of the hitherto uncontrollable arms race.

    Stealth technology

    Pentagon generals and Western armchair strategists are known to boast about the range of stealth aircraft in the American armoury, against which the Russians have no match apparently. Well, first off, stealth technology is not an American invention. The entire idea, concept and theory of stealth aircraft was fully developed in Russia years before the Americans came to know about it.
    The reason why Moscow did not go ahead with development of a stealth bomber was simply because it wasn’t needed. Russian plans to attack the continental United States involved strategic Tupolev-160 Blackjack bombers coming in over the North Pole and firing nuclear-tipped cruise missiles at American cities from international airspace.
    On the other hand, Russia’s cities are deep inside the territory of its vast Eurasian landmass. But more crucially the Soviet Union, which was obsessed with security because of the Nazi invasion, had deployed no less than 30,000 surface-to-air missiles to defend against invading aircraft and cruise missiles. Nothing less than a stealth aircraft could penetrate these defences.
    Or could it? During the 78-day NATO bombing of tiny Serbia, the Serbian air defence unit armed with a 1960s vintage Pechora SA-3 surface to air missile shot down a stealth F-117 Nighthawk fighter. Incredibly, as all hell broke loose around them, amidst all the radio chatter, the Serbs were able to pick the pilot who had days earlier bombed a children’s hospital.

    Bill Sweetman and Bill Gunston are counted among the world’s leading weapons experts. More than 25 years ago, they demolished the stereotype about Soviet weapons being technologically backward in comparison with Western ones. According to them, while the Soviet civilian economy was a command one producing average quality consumer goods, the military bureaus had to face real competition from each other, leading to cutting edge weapons that were far ahead of anything the West could come up with. Sweetman and Gunston write, “In the entire history of the human race, there has never been a fighting machine as formidable and terrifying as the air and rocket forces of the Soviet Union.”
    The bottomline: in a combat situation if the military is well trained and motivated, Russian weapons will most likely carry the day. And you can take that to the bank.

    • Shaurya says:

      good piece Andy.

    • MS says:

      Interesting and a bit exciting too. Nice.

      Equally interesting, though from a completely different angle, is the boldness with which IAF is suggesting all this expensive rafale thing and then will ask for money for special hangars.

      You want to laugh.

  3. &^%$#@! says:

    Well said @andy! BTW, the fundamentals of “stealth” technology as we know it today, were laid as far back as 1962 by the Russian applied physicist Pytor Ufimtsev in his monograph”Method of Edge Waves in the Physical Theory of Diffraction”, whose English translation can be obtained in 3 parts from:

    http://nsarchive.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB443/docs/area51_10a.PDF
    http://nsarchive.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB443/docs/area51_10b.PDF
    http://nsarchive.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB443/docs/area51_10c.PDF

    Benjamin (Ben) Rich, who was Kelly Johnson’s successor as head of the Lockheed Skunk Works, would report in his memoirs:

    http://www.amazon.com/Skunk-Works-Personal-Memoir-Lockheed/dp/0316743003

    that one afternoon a “Skunk Works mathematician and radar specialist named Denys Overholser … presented him with the Rosetta Stone breakthrough for stealth technology.” Overholser had found the breakthrough in Ufimtsev’s work and explained that the Ufimtsev had demonstrated “how to accurately calculate radar cross sections across the surface of the wing and at the edge of the wing and put together these two calculations for an accurate total.

    An excellent, though in certain areas factually questionable, summary may be obtained from:

    http://nsarchive.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB443/

  4. ashi sidhu says:

    i share your view
    nowadays our armed forces are totally blind to cost sensitivities and are getting more and more attracted to western systems a worrying sign is the opposition to pak fa IAF is virtually saying they want f 35 i fear what holds in future

  5. ~!@#$%^*()_+ says:

    What I have observed is that the Western countries make their weapons to maximally deploy the big budets they have accumulated.
    OTOH Russians and today Chinese too are making their weapons to maximize the available physics to the extent they have understood it.

    Then there is a method to both sides. West generally gets a good idea which is then sold to be bastard with the largest accumulated wealth and the widest lungs. This bastard will then effectively control the life of that good idea and of everybody else who will be working further on this one good idea. Indian, being heavily educated in the western methods, too seem to be taking this route.
    OTOH the Russians gather a group and then give them a target. There goes the US platform – go hunt. Then this group searches out every available idea and instead of the focus being on maximizing the possible applications, the focus is centered on one target they have been given. Leaving the rest of the applications for other groups or individuals. The first group will succeed at a good cost and the second larger group that is free to do its thing can only be kept down by Sanctions. Which is what the Americans do eventually to retain their edge.

    I don’t think any side is better or worse. Its just that the side that is faithful to its method till the very end will succeed. Thus West will win if they are able to sanction the whole of the world (Russians, Chinese, Indians) in the process ensuring that the West is the one that maximizes its own understanding of the physical reality.
    OTOH Russians will win if they focus on maximizing the impact of physical reality to the extent they already understand it. Between a bunch of professionals and the force of nature, its is obvious the force of nature will always win. Nature scales better.

    In any case the second group of freelancers will generate newer ideas by the very force of their nature. I sometimes wonder, how for example, Aryabhatt needed only a tambrapatra and ink to do his job while millions of post independence people have had unimaginable computing resources to do whatever they are doing. The results show the efficacy of the methods.

    Unfortunately in India you can bet if you have a good idea and want to use if for the country and future generations, the establishment itself will sell you out.

  6. andy says:

    American weapons are considered as corporate crown jewels.Since they bring in profits to the companies, who often have politicians in their pockets,they are too big to be allowed to fail even if found ineffectual in war or outdated.

    The ultimate example is the F16 fighter.This 1970s vintage aircraft is built from parts manufactured in no less than 46 American States.It truly is the case of a plane that won’t be allowed to die because too many political career’s rest on its aging airframe. The Americans tried to peddle it to India but mercifully for the IAF it was shot down in the MMRCA competition. Days later the US ambassador to India resigned ,revealing the close nexus between America’s political class & it’s arms industry.

  7. ~!@#$%^*()_+ says:

    F-16 was still a better concept during its time. Today the world has moved on. The world either asks for an LCA kind of fully loaded F-16 styled plane at half the F-16 cost or bigger and better planes with room for ever more. JF-17, J-10s, LCAs, Gripens are all of the former kind. There is even more being peddled down the

    The primary problem with western products is that most good concepts are cheap. So they must either load it further like the smart phones with frivolous features or else they must rope in compormised procurement managers in other countries and negotiate with them till death about stripping down or loading up these extra features. The focus on the main objective to be achieved be damned.

  8. Venkat says:

    We need to buy what we can afford, best make it our selves. No nation has become powerful on imported weapons. Maybe slashing USD content of defence budget and tightening PSU spend of Forex.
    We need to reduce variety.
    None will ever tell us why Rafales are so,desperately needed.
    No one will will ever tell which idiotic rule in MoD blocks spares purchase in bulk. That alone can increase the availability as stated by raksha Mantri himself.
    IAF needs to remember Gnat, the tiny plane that no one wanted. It was a hit against F-86 Sabres.

    The point you make on Su-30 withstanding Indian summer is true, these poor fellas at last have a roof on their heads. So it is about IL-76 and AN-32 too.
    Will C-17 get a air conditioned palace too ?

    • Kanisk Singh says:

      The C-17’s and the C-130J are all kept out in the open. Also, Mr. Bharat Karnad should look at the serviceability rate of the Sukhoi and the Mirage. The former’s hovers between 50-60% whereas the latter’s is always above 90%. I am not saying that the Sukhoi is a bad aircraft. I am just saying is the you reap what you sow.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s