Thursday, February 23, 2006

Russia + Iran = ....?

It's nice that Russia and China are getting involved in screening the Iranian nuclear weapons development program -- I mean, negotiationg a reasonable compromise on the issue of uranium enrichment. Good. I'm also glad that both Japan and the UN have welcomed the Russia-Iran talks, even though such talks seemed destined to produce only more talks -- and Iranian-enriched uranium. It's most important that everybody be happy with the way things are going. Happy, happy, joy, joy.

There is some hope that the US and Europe will be able to forge a common position on the issue of Iran's nuclear weapons program. Certainly, Western Europe seems to have been jolted by Iran's intransigence. Frankly, either Iran really does only want to have nuclear power for the electricity, or it wants to develop nuclear weapons. If it's the former, Tehran should be able to swallow the soverignty issue and accept the deal. After all, they just want clean energy, right? You never know when you're going to run out of oil, the Middle East is a turbulent place (even if your soaking in it), and the environment is ever so important. On the other hand, if Iran really is pursuing a nuclear weapons program (I'm going to go out on a limb and lean this way), then no amount of discussion will lead to a verifiable deal. Strikes will be forthcoming.

It should be noted that in December 2005, Russia fast-tracked the delivery of 29 Tor-M1 (SA-15) air-defense systems to Iran by the end of 2006. While the Tor-M1 was originally conceived as a mobile air-defense system to protect armored formations on the move, it is known to be an effective site-defense system. It should also be noted that the Tor-M1 is effective against the sort of air-launched, stand-off strike weapons that the US has come to rely on. The system also has an optical engagement capability that would enable it to function in an environment of electronic jamming, although the fire-control system would presumably still need a cue from a search radar. However, it is possible to cue fire-control systems from remote locations, so it may be possible for a search and track network to remain operative in the face of electronic warfare. Certainly, others have figured out how to do this in the past, notably the Yugoslavians. Regardless, the presence of Tor-M1 air defense systems at Iranian nuclear sites would certainly complicate matters.

So, even as the Russians claim to want to help, they are scrambling to protect their investment in Iran's nuclear program.

Here's some background on the Tor/Tor-M1 from "Russia's Roving SAMs" by Michal Fiszer. Be happy!

9K330 Tor

Missile: 9M330 (SA-15 Gauntlet)
Range: 1.5 to 12 km
Altitude: 10 to 6000 m

Target Search/Acquisition Radar: P-19 or 9S18 Kupol [command post]; C-band [launcher]
Fire Control: K-band

The development of the 9K330 Tor system was prolonged due to its high degree of system complexity. It started state trials in December 1983 and was finally accepted into service in March 1986. A Tor regiment consists of four launch batteries and is attached to a division. The regiment has a headquarters company with a MP-22 mobile command post, a MP-25 information and coordination center, and one or two P-19 or 9S18 Kupol radar sets. When first deployed, the C3 I equipment was not compatible with the Polyana-D4 system and this was the system's main shortcoming. The battery consists of a PU-12M mobile command post and four TELARs.

The 9A330 TELAR is mounted on tracked chassis. It has eight vertically launched radio-command guided missiles in a middle compartment, a target-acquisition radar at the rear, and a fire-control radar in the front. The 3-D target acquisition radar has a threat-warning alarm and automatic threat-evaluation modes, with automatic target prioritization. It operates in the C band with 1.5 kW pulse power output, and has mechanical scan in azimuth and frequency-modulation scan in elevation. The elevation scan angle is from zero to +32 degrees. Full antenna rotation takes four seconds. The radar can track up to 24 targets, provide continues route plots for ten of them, and designates the most threatening to the fire-control radar. Aircraft like the F-15 can be detected up to a distance of 25-27 km at altitudes between 30 and 6,000 m. A hovering helicopter can be detected up to a distance of 13-20 km, while a helicopter on the ground with a turning rotor can be detected up to a distance of 6-7 km (the system can engage such a target, provided the rotor is moving). A small UAV with a low radar signature can be detected up to a range of 9-15 km.

The fire-control control radar is a K-band, fully scanned array, mono-pulse radar with a relatively narrow field of view (3 degrees in azimuth and 7 degrees in elevation). It is highly accurate however, with an accuracy of 1 minute in azimuth and elevation, 100 m in distance, and 30 m/s in speed. The power output is 0.6 kW. The radar tracks up to two missiles (in a larger field of view, due to the missiles' radar repeater) and can lock them onto a single target. The fire-control radar locks onto a fighter-type target at a range of 23 km in 50% of engagements, and in 80% of engagements at a range of 20 km. The radar is supported by an optical tracking system with a TV day/night camera. The target engaged can be tracked either by radar or by camera or by both devices at the same time. The camera range is 20-25 km. The 9M330 missile can engage targets at ranges between 1.5 and 12 km, at altitudes from 10 to 6000 m, and with a maximum speed of 700 m/s.

As the Tor system was fielded in 1986 without fully meeting requirements, work started on an improved version called Tor-M1. NPO Antyei conducted the systems integration development, with NPO Agat providing the new 9S737 Ranzhir C2 system. This was fully compatible with the Polyana-D4 C3I system, and thus a Tor-M1 regiment can be integrated into the land forces air-defense network. The improved 9A331 TELAR received a new, phased-array target acquisition radar. It had the same range as the earlier radar but was much more resistant for jamming due to frequency agility (within the C-Band) and more advanced signal processing. A new digital fire control computer allowed Tor-M1 to engage air-launched stand-off weapons effectively, and also allowed the system to engage two targets simultaneously, with certain limitations. One target is engaged using radar tracking while the second target is engaged using optical tracking. The new system underwent state trials from March through December 1989, and was accepted to service in 1991. Currently, almost all Russian basic Tor systems have been modernized to the Tor-M1 version.