Tel Aviv is sure: now Russian complexes in Syria can be blown up without the risk of losing the F-16.
The destruction of the S-300 air defense system, which Russia transferred to Syria last year, seems to have become a manic idea in Israel. What kind of options to get rid of the complexes that do not allow the Israeli Air Force to manage in a foreign airspace has not been discussed in the world media. But the most seemingly real option burst. American conditional “invisible” F-35 do not risk to oppose to anti-aircraft missiles S-300. And rightly so, because this fighter-bomber is very expensive. It would be a pity to lose.
And now it offers a completely opposite option in terms of financial costs. The cheap way to destroy the S-300 is to use the Raphael company, a leading Israeli rocket weapon development company that plans Spice-250 bombs. It weighs 250 pounds, which is equivalent to about 115 kg.
At first about cheapness. Relative, of course, in comparison with the use of missiles. Here is what Rafael Vice President Oren Uriel says about this bomb: “Defense budgets are declining all over the world, so customers are interested in low prices, but they are not ready to compromise. In this case, they will get a small and inexpensive product. ”
Uriel, like other commentators, calls the Spice-250 a “smart bomb.” On the grounds that it has an optoelectronic homing head, which tracks down on earth objects whose images coincide with the “pictures” laid down in the memory of the bomb. Before a target is captured, an inertial control system with GPS correction is operating in the middle part of the route. The developers claim that the bomb is highly resistant to GPS signal suppression systems. However, such stability is not quite clear when the signal is blocked completely. Or it is distorted, as some Russian electronic warfare complexes can do.
Moreover, the Spice-250 programming process is simple and can be carried out by the pilot during the flight. So the universal bomb – air defense missile system for it is only one of the possible objects of attack. During tests, a bomb was induced, for example, on a moving pickup with remote control, without a driver.
It is also necessary to say that a bomb is capable of planning for a distance of up to 100 km, depending on the speed of the carrier and the height of the bombing. In this connection, in Israel they say that fighter pilots (these are, of course, cheap F-16s and not F-35s) do not need to enter the enemy’s air defense zone. That is, you can reset the Spice-250 from a safe distance. At the same time, the enemy’s radar will not see these bombs, because they are “small”.
Circular probable deviation is 3 meters. With a low weight of the warhead equal to 60 kg, this characteristic cannot be considered excellent.
F-16 is capable of taking up to 16 Spice-250 bombs, which is predetermined not by their total mass, but by the number of free suspension units. Combat units of two types – high-explosive and penetrating. Armor-piercing, judging by the information from the developer, is not provided. True, they may appear in the following modifications.
Well, and finally, I must say that the Spice-250 is not yet available for the Israeli Air Force . It is expected that they will be put into service in the second half of 2019.
So is it worth the Syrians trembling with fear, when the Sp-250 will be suspended on the F-16?
Let’s start with the fact that the hope that the carrier of a new bomb bombed out without entering the zone of the enemy’s air defense system is erroneous. The S-300PM2 complexes transferred to Syria have a range of air defense targets 200 km. Well, the radar detection will notice the approaching Israeli fighters even further – for 300 km.
The radar invisibility of the bombs (although no digital data is available regarding this characteristic) is not a disaster for the S-300PM2. If in the inconspicuous fighters of the fifth generation, the radar stealth is achieved by the ingenious geometry of the airframe, then this option is not suitable for planning bombs. They must have good aerodynamics to fly as much as possible from the discharge point without the help of an engine. And the small size of a bomb is not a very effective way to reduce the effective area of dispersion (EPR).
The strategic radar Don-2 in the course of the Russian-American exercises of the last century discovered in space a metal ball with a diameter of 10 cm at a distance of 4000 km.
The S-300 radar, of course, is far below the capacity of the Don-2. But the low-altitude 76N6 radar of the S-300PM2 complex should perfectly detect Israeli planning bombs. It discovers a target with an EPR of 0.02 sq. M. (Spice-250 can do the same at least) at a distance of 90 km. That is, almost immediately after the bombing.
It is also necessary to take into account two more circumstances. First, the planning bombs have a subsonic speed. Our anti-aircraft missile system has enough time to respond to each Spice-250, if the F-16 drops them 16 pieces. Secondly, the interval between the launches of anti-aircraft missiles at the S-300PM2 is three seconds.
But there is also a third. The anti-aircraft missile systems of medium-range air defense systems, to which the S-300 belongs, are not operated without being covered by their short-range SAM systems.
In the Syrian army, the Pantsir-S1 anti-aircraft missile and cannon complex is used as such a tool. For protection against planning bombs, no matter how “smart” they are, it is more than enough. The Pantsir-S1 has a strike distance of 20 km, a height of 15 km. It can be used against air targets, the speed of which exceeds 3 M, and the lower limit of the ESR is about 0.03−0.06 sq.m. The interval between rocket launches is 1.5 seconds.
Well, and finally, about the “brains” of the bomb, which supposedly nothing can deviate from the given route. It turns out that it can. There are EW facilities that suppress the GPS signal, which is used in building bombs on the target. However, it is not known whether the Syrian troops have such complexes. You can also say about the impact of electronic warfare on the work of electronics “smart” bombs. However, we will not do this, since the Syrian radio-technical troops do not possess such complexes.
And now about the imaginary uniqueness of the Spice-250 bomb. Similar characteristics have American planning bombs AGM-154 Joint Standoff Weapon. Moreover, the Israeli Air Force has them, since the AGM-154 are part of the standard weapons of the F-16 and F-15 fighters. Their maximum range reaches 130 km. Guidance on the target – inertial correction with a GPS signal. At the final leg of the route, the infra-red hsn begins to work.
It must be said that the matrix seeker sees not a shapeless heat spot, but a thermal signature of the object. That from the point of view of identification is close by the result obtained by the optoelectronic GOS of the Israeli bomb. At the same time, one of the modifications of the AGM-154 has a feedback with the carrier that launched it, which allows increasing the accuracy of targeting to mobile targets.
The American bomb is more impressive than the Israeli one, the mass of its warhead reaches 480 kg.
Actually, the Israeli Air Force has Spice family bombs in service already. These are 1000-pound and 2000-pound planning ammunition, which use exactly the same targeting system as Spice-250. And their Israeli aviation is already using them when striking Syrian territory. However, none of the 24 launchers S-300PM2, which Syria has, did not suffer from them.