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The Iran War has been called off for the time being, but the threat of a renewed crisis and future escalation remain. The Iranian missile strikes on two US bases in Iraq provide updated data points on how such a clash will go.

1. The most important adjustment we need to make is that Iranian SRBMs are much more accurate than conventional wisdom expected. Satellite analysis of the strikes show their CEP is <20m.

This is a major milestone. Forget Scuds being tossed about willy-nilly. Three decades since the War of the Cities, and the rise of cheap electronics, even decidedly mid-tier Powers now have access to accurate targeting. An area that was previously the exclusive preserve of the superpowers (US – since 1970s; USSR – since 1980s).

This will certainly complicate the US position in the Middle East, as it makes its military bases much more vulnerable to Iranian attack than what I had previously thought. At least assuming Patriots remain iffy. There was no test of that two days ago.

I don’t think it’s a complete game changer. Fixed bases are not a sine qua non of warfare. You can conceal planes and drones. Troops can be billetted amongst civilians, as has been practiced since times immemorial. And, of course, the launchers and missiles can be themselves targeted. Though this will not be trivial, since Iran is big and has a lot of mountains and hardened underground bases, where it has been accumulating missiles for decades.

2. Conversely, there’s nothing positive to report about Iranian air defense.

It is now clear that PS752 was accidentally brought down by mistaken fire from Iranian air defense. (Considering the improbability of a civilian jet catastrophe – something that happens just 1-2 times in any one year – coinciding with the sharpest Iran-US clash to date, this was always the likeliest version).

The friendly fire came from a Tor missile system (SA-15). This is a fairly modern system, so the fact that its operators – who, admittedly, must have been panicky and on edge – confused it for a hostile doesn’t speak highly to their training.

This is admittedly not much of a data point, but it does reinforce the existing, generally negative view of the Iranian IADS. It was less dense and more outdated than Syria’s even before Russia started upgrading it from 2016. As of a decade ago, most of it consists of outdated American and Soviet systems and some Tor batteries, although it has since been augmented with 4 S-300 batteries, 4 S-300PMU2 batteries, and 12+ Bavar-373 batteries (a supposedly improved adaptation of the S-300). Their performance is still mostly a black box.

There is very little in the way of an air force apart from a few creaking F-14’s that soldier on and MiG-29’s (with unupgraded avionics). Ideally, an IADS needs to be complemented by modern fighters, which would require that any strike missions against SAMS be accompanied by air-to-air escorts and lower the sortie rate. Iran doesn’t have anything of the sort, and it needs to wait until the expiration of UN sanctions later this year as well as years and billions of dollars of purchases before it can mitigate this shortcoming.

My guess, at this point, is that the problems posed by Iranian air defense will be comparable to that posed by the outdated Serbian air defense to NATO fighters in 1998: Enough to create a present and lingering threat that negatively impacts on the effectiveness of bombing sorties, but nowhere near enough to result in the loss of significant numbers of enemy airframes. The Iranians, on their side, have the benefit of a nicer geography and probably a smaller technological gap (much will depend on how good the Bavars are). OTOH, they probably also have poorer training and worse human capital than the Serbs.

Obviously, if Russia was to get involved – by provisioning S-400’s, providing training, perhaps even the crews for them and a fighter screen – Iran’s situation improves radically.

 
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  1. Please keep off topic posts to the current Open Thread.

    If you are new to my work, start here.

  2. utu says:

    “Satellite analysis of the strikes show their CEP is <20m." – Which is impossible to be achieved by ballistic missiles w/o SatNav. There is something fishy about the story touted of exceptional accuracy of Iranian missiles.

    • Replies: @Alfa158
  3. Max Payne says:

    ….conventional wisdom expected.

    Maybe your wisdom McNamara-Lite

  4. Jayce says:
    @John Burns, Gettysburg Partisan

    Galaxy brain: Iran intentionally shot the plane down, but had to do it for the greater good because Azov is covertly arming MEK.

    • Replies: @El Dato
  5. PPP adjusted Military budgets:

    500+Bil USA & China
    200+ India
    150+ Rus & Saudi
    65+ France & Iran

    ————
    50-60:
    Pak, Brazil, Japan, Germany, Turkey, S Korea, & Butter Knife Island.

    Notable:

    30Bil+: Algeria 36bil
    25bil+: Poland, Italy, Indonesia
    20bil+: Canada, Australia, Taiwan, Spain, Colombia, Iraq (19)
    15bil+: Israel, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Kuwait, Mexico (14), Ukraine (15)

    https://sipri.org/sites/default/files/2019-04/fs_1904_milex_2018_0.pdf
    I used that + Wikipedia economy pages to get PPP ratio.

    Rest more or less below 10 billion, esp Nordics.

    FULL Top 15 list:

    USA 600
    China 475
    India 250bil
    Russia 160bil
    Saudi 150bil
    France 70bil
    Iran 70bil
    UK 60bil
    South Korea 56bil
    Turkey 56bil
    Germany 54bil
    Japan 52bil
    Pak 50bil
    Brazil 50bil


    I think this puts the world power balance into perspective.

  6. Afghanistan is technically 14billion multiplied by almost 4 to give a number somewhere in the 50+billion range.

    Most of this goes to Dancing boys and hashish though so I didn’t include it..

  7. US funding for Afg is guarenteed till only 2024.

    A 20billion nominal 75bil PPP economy
    Military budget is 10-15BIL Nominal 45-50Bil PPP.

    Draw your conclusions for what its future is||

    LOL.

    Pak is stable though as its a 1 trillion PPP economy. Unfortunately,

    Post is about Iran all I’d say for Pak/Afg is ethnic issues will continue to flare up & they’ll probably both become Chinese vassals||

    How that’ll affect Iran Hind Rus or even Turan, who knows||


    CIA had a plan for a Fortress Caliphate along the Pamiri Mountains & Turan (Uzbek, Tajik etc)
    That looks like it will become reality as no power wants to step into the region & Pak/Afg are high tfr militarized states||

  8. Last point:

    This is what my half Parsi Half Panjabi Brahmin friend said:

    • Replies: @Philip Owen
  9. Alfa158 says:
    @utu

    20 meters might be achievable by civilian GNSS systems including the US GPS system or Russian Glonass under some conditions:
    For GPS the firmware in civilian off-the-shelf nav chips would have to be hacked to disable the feature that stops the output of position solutions while certain altitude, velocity or acceleration limits are exceeded. Also the US would have to not have activated selective availability in that region, which would have increased the error to the 100 meter range, or, even have turned off the civilian C/A code which would prevent any navigation with civilian equipment. The US has done that in the past for conflicts but it is now a huge inconvenience to do so because of all the civilian uses for GPS, and the fact that even the US military uses civilian GPS hardware to save money in some applications. It seems credible that no-one thought of a ballistic missile attack occurring and so no such precautions were taken.

    For Glonass use the Russians would have had no reason to enact countermeasures, and may well have provided technical assistance to the Iranians in implementing civilian or military Glonass and terminal guidance solutions or just flat out sold them the guidance hardware as a complete package.

    • Replies: @utu
    , @Pericles
  10. Nodwink says:

    Given that the strikes on the US base were basically theatre, it does provide ammunition to those who think that much of international affairs are choreographed. Trump has managed to deflect attention from the Deutsche Bank story at least.

  11. utu says:
    @Alfa158

    GPS-Aided Guidance for Ballistic Missile Applications (RAND Corporation)
    https://www.rand.org/pubs/reprints/RP474-1.html

    “The paper concludes that GPS-aiding can improve the accuracy of short- and medium-range missiles by approximately 20-25 percent and that Selective Availability has almost no effect on accuracy.”
    _________

    Satellite navigation-aiding for ballistic and cruise missiles
    https://www.rand.org/pubs/reprints/RP543.html

    “The authors’ analysis focuses on the U.S. GPS system; however, the findings would be similar if GLONASS were used. The paper concludes that satellite navigation-aiding can improve the accuracy of current short- and medium-range ballistic missiles by approximately 20-25 percent, and up to 70 percent for advanced ballistic missiles.”
    _________

    https://www.intechopen.com/books/ballistics/adaptive-navigation-guidance-and-control-techniques-applied-to-ballistic-projectiles-and-rockets

    Adaptive Navigation, Guidance and Control Techniques Applied to Ballistic Projectiles and Rockets

    From Table 6:

    CEP=240m (Ballistic flight)

    CEP=73m (GNSS/accelerometer controlled flight)

    CEP=1.4m (GNSS/accelerometer/photo-detector controlled flight)

    The latter is questionable because it requires (in the model this guys simulated) “constant lines of sight between the target, laser designator and the weapon must be maintained.” So I doubt Iranians could have anything like that in the terminal phase of flight. Where would be the laser to illuminate the target?

    It is possible they used some optical infrared scene/terrain recognition of the target area and the target itself. For this they would have to do flights over the target in the past to create the infrared image model of the target. So it all gets complicated.

    There is a possibility that they could have placed some navigational beacons in the area of the US base and used triangulation within the beacons coordinates. This would work only if the beacons and the target (the US base) were mapped via satellite or some overflight plane to place the base accurately in the coordinates of the beacons space.
    _________

    The reason I am skeptical of the pict showing the damage of recent Iranian attack as well as skeptical of all the claims about Iranian threat that Iran has allegedly 1000’s of ballistic missiles (like in the propaganda video attached by AK – how much of it was CGI?) is that (1) ballistic missiles are inaccurate (CEP=70m with GNSS) and thus are meant as from before GPS era for delivery of nuclear devices (2) using ballistic missiles to deliver 150 kg to 750 kg of conventional charge makes sense only against dense populated areas. So, yes Iran could turn Tel Aviv or Riyadh to Hamburg or Dresden with the salvo of 1000’s of ballistic missiles but after using them all they would have nothing left to show.

    The story that emerged from the recent Iranian attack is that (1) Iranian warned the US of incoming or planned attack (via Swiss embassy) so Americans could evacuate which apparently they did and as a gesture of good will Americans decided not to shoot down any of the missiles so Iranians had something to show and (2) the attack was successful though with very low charges (another proof of Iranian mercy and good will) and (3) missiles had an exceptional accuracy which seems to be impossible. This all sound fishy and contrived. Somebody is trying us to swallow a crock of crap.

    • Replies: @utu
    , @utu
    , @Pericles
  12. If an adversary fires hundreds of missiles at a base and gives adequate warning, can the equipment on the base be destroyed, rendering the base useless in a conflict, with no loss of life? If so I’d imagine that really changes doctrine.

    Also interested in how vulnerable aircraft carriers are to be crippled by a precise strike. Would a hit to the take off part of the deck render the carrier unable to launch planes? Could this also be done without the loss of any life if adequate warning was given?

  13. utu says:
    @utu

    Satellite Images Show Aftermath of Iran Missile Attack

    0:11. Two hits close together?
    0:16. Do I see there four helicopters parked after the attack?

  14. utu says:
    @utu

    Iran’s Missile Priorities after the Nuclear Deal, Michael Elleman
    The International Institute for Strategic Studies

    “A few months later, Jane’s Defence Weekly (*) published a report that included satellite imagery of craters distrib- uted throughout a mock airfield and outside its imaginary boundaries. The location of some of the craters in the satellite imagery corresponded with the impacts shown in the televised video, suggesting that the Jane’s infor- mation accurately reflected events during the war game. Assuming the Fateh-110s were aiming for the center of the airfield, the spatial distribution of the impacts indicates a CEP of 800–1,100 meters, depending on the calculation method employed. ”

    “It will require very different technolo- gies to the Fateh-110 to achieve the design objectives. Adding a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver, or the Russian, French or Chinese equivalents, to the inertial navigation system to provide precise updates will only improve Emad’s accuracy by about 20–25%, not enough to alter its military utility. To achieve the precision needed to destroy military targets consistently and reliably, Iran must develop a post-boost control system and terminal guidance capabilities. With terminal guidance and control, missile warheads can be maneuvered to the target just before impact. Based on the time other countries took to develop precision-guided ballistic missiles with a range greater than 300km, Iran is not expected to possess an arsenal of accurate medium-range missiles before 2025. Extensive foreign assistance from China or Russia could shorten the timeline to a few years, however.”

    (*) Jeremy Binnie and Andy Dinville, ‘Satellite imagery shows accuracy of Iran’s ballistic missiles’, Jane’s Defence Weekly, 31 October 2012.

    • Replies: @Annatar
  15. Annatar says:

    I think the most important outcome of the strike was that it demonstrated Iran has the capability to hit US aircraft facilities & US aircraft at US airbases in the region. The importance of that fact being that since the US doesn’t really have a lot of surface to surface missile systems in the region, nor do it’s ground forces pose any real threat to Iran in case of a war owing due how small in number they are, America’s entire capability to strike Iran is dependent upon missiles launched from it’s air and naval platforms in the region, what the strike against Al Asad base showed is Iran has the ability to destroy US aircraft at fairly short notice which makes any potential war with Iran much more difficult to carry out.

    Indeed, one reason potentially why some war hawks called for de-escalation after the strike is they realised that Iran has the capacity to destroy a large proportion of US air assets in the region which would severely retard America’s capability to respond. Neither Serbia in the late 1990’s or Iraq in 2003 possessed a large arsenal of highly accurate ballistic missiles with which they could destroy enemy aircraft at enemy bases, they were basically forced to wait for enemy aircraft to enter their air space and respond with anti-air systems.

    The problem is further compounded by the fact the US only has limited numbers of aircraft to begin with in the region and Iran has far more missiles than the US has aircraft or aircraft hangars. It’s likely in the case of a war the US in terms of air power would be forced to rely on it’s long range bomber forces that are positioned well outside of Iran’s missile range, aircraft such as the B-2 that could fly in from distant bases, the issue with that is from an American perspective it would severely limit the number of strikes that could be carried out.

    Regarding the accuracy of the Iranian missiles, the evidence seems to be this, the US claims Iran fired 11 missiles at Al Asad airbase and 6 hit actual targets. Based off that and the average size of the radius from the missiles hitting, one analyst source has calculated the CEP may have been 12 metres which is very high, a CEP of 12 metres means the missiles are capable of striking relatively small targets like aircraft hangars with a high degree of accuracy, in terms of a war, this means Iran certainly possess the ability to destroy as many US aircraft on the ground as it’s missiles can reach in case of a war.

  16. Annatar says:
    @utu

    This shows how wrong analysts can be I guess, he estimated in 2012 that it wold take until 2025 for Iran to develop an arsenal of precision-guided ballistic missiles based off how long it took other countries, well it looks like Iran developed that arsenal by 2019 and have just used it.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    , @utu
  17. @Annatar

    It’s probably simpler to develop it now than back in the 1980s, computers are way more developed, there’s lots of similar (if way less capable) civilian technology (like civilian GPS) around, and probably lots of the military technology could be purchased from relatively friendly countries. They could cooperate with North Korea as well.

    • Replies: @utu
  18. Pericles says:
    @utu

    This would work only if the beacons and the target (the US base) were mapped via satellite or some overflight plane to place the base accurately in the coordinates of the beacons space.

    Perhaps it had been scouted ahead of time by someone with a GPS unit?

    • Agree: utu
  19. Pericles says:
    @Alfa158

    Re: GLONASS: is it any good though? An acquaintance (civilian) who worked with those sort of things was dismissive, though that was a while ago.

  20. Nodwink says:

    Lots of people on social media talking about this, not sure of the relevance but does cast some doubt about who was responsible for downing the plane: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-cyber-missiles/cia-devised-way-to-restrict-missiles-given-to-allies-researcher-says-idUSKBN1YY1BF

  21. Rahan says:

    I’d say satellite/reconnaissance data provided by Moscow to Tehran is a given, at this point. If not constantly, then for specific agreed upon scenarios.

    Iran’s social capital should be on par with Serbia’s, with some halfway decent management.
    While Serbia’s average IQ may be 89, and Iran’s–84
    https://brainstats.com/average-iq-by-country.html
    …Serbia has a population of 7 million, while Iran–82 million. Eleven+ the population of Serbia, but the army folks schooled in very similar weapon systems and even tactics.

    Surely the number of competent Serbs for any job, can be mirrored by Iran, simply due to numbers.

    Pakistan is also on the average IQ 84 level, with a population of 213 million. They’re nuclear, and they keep India on her toes. What they can do, Iran can do.

    Let’s not forget the two jumps of Russian military capacity in recent memory:
    1) One decade during which they went from being unable to take Chechnya for years on end, to defeating Georgia in three days
    2) A second decade during which they upgraded everything tenfold after Georgia

    Who knows? Maybe Iran did something similar, on a more modest scale, and is now vastly better prepared than 10 or 20 years ago. Not everyone’s armies are in a slow-motion collapse like Europe’s and America’s. Some people are actually upgrading themselves. And the more Western armies become inefficient bands of third world mercenaries using 40 year old tech, while Russian, Chinese, and other armies keep modernizing, there’s going to be a meeting halfway.

    One is slowly going down, the other is slowly going up, and suddenly–convergence!

    Just like with muh freedomz. The more the West becomes a managed oligarchy with censorship, political prisoners, and secret police and answer to no one, the closer it gets to Russia and China, the less of an excuse it has to be so degenerate as in “that’s the price of freedom”.

    When the freedom is mostly gone, the degeneracy is suddenly the price of something else. The price of power. And maybe people are going to start to ask–if we’re going to be ran by censorious authoritarians anyway, and the wrong joke can destroy you, can we at least get ones that care about the nation and don’t want to replace us with cheap wogs?

    If we’re gonna be ran by people we can’t criticize, can we at least have them work on raising the general affluence level and infrastructure, instead of focusing on their transvestite and Arab immigrant fetishes?

    • Replies: @lauris71
    , @Korenchkin
  22. jeppo says:

    “The Iran War has been called off for the time being”

    It’s over, Iran lost. And because they don’t want to admit they shot down that plane the losing will only intensify, at home and abroad. Trump’s luck strikes again.

  23. If Iranian missiles are that accurate, it means they can hit ships in port, to include supertankers loading oil and US Navy warships.

    “It is now clear that PS752 was accidentally brought down by mistaken fire from Iranian air defense.”

    I’d say probably, but not clear. It was ascending and moving away from Iran so that would not look like attacking aircraft to a radar operator. A US fighter or Israeli fighter plane could have shot it down by accident or on purpose.

    My favorite theory is the Russians are to blame. They slipped a Buk missile system across the border and drove down, set up, and shot it down. Why? Because Russians are evil, they did this before in Ukraine!

  24. It looks like a lot of US bases in ME are now sitting in the area denial zone of Iran. The question is whether they have to have their airstrips (carriers and stationary bases) in that zone in order to take a shot at achieving air superiority or not. In the first case an US attack has a good chance to be repelled without much damage to Iran, in the second case there might be some chance that an US attack might create some considerable damage, but nothing of permanence will be gained, since US ground troops will have no chance in Iran, considering that they cannot even defeat a bunch of illiterates equipped with AKs in Afghanistan (similar topography). Iran will have escalation dominance if it comes to a full out war as long as the US refrains from using nukes.

    I would say Iran is in the lead now v. US in ME.

  25. lauris71 says:
    @Rahan

    Iran’s social capital should be on par with Serbia’s, with some halfway decent management.
    While Serbia’s average IQ may be 89, and Iran’s–84

    Iran is interesting case. While the average is on par with other Muslim countries, there seem to be a disproportionate number of top-level Iranian scientists in “hard” fields. So maybe there is some traditional segregation in play in their society, just like India’s varna system?
    Given the number of Iranian mathematicians in West one can be sure that there should be some left to their country too.

    • Replies: @Jatt Sengh
    , @Korenchkin
  26. Americans simply do not do air-defense. They never needed it having the most powerful airforce. Today they rely exclusively on deterrent: the idea that if you hit their military assets, they will unleash devastating attacks on your civilian infrastructure (like in Serbia 99), decapitate your political leadership (as they often threaten against North Korea) and impose crippling economic sanctions (which has proven effective against Russia since 2014).

    In the meantime Israeli “Iron Dome” gets routinely overwhelmed by Palestinian missile salvos. So you can guess how US-designed air-defence systems will perform in a major conflict.

  27. utu says:
    @reiner Tor

    “.. than back in the 1980s” – The article I was citing was written after 2015.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  28. utu says:
    @Annatar

    The improvements in ballistic missile guidance they were anticipating for 2025 were to be based by adopting GNSS which improves CEP by 25%. Or even it is 70% it is not enough as it reduces ballistic inertial guidance CEP from 240 m to 70 m.

    • Replies: @El Dato
  29. @utu

    And your comment in 2020. The argument used was based on how much time it took to other countries. So like the USA in the 1970s and the Soviets in the 1980s. The point made in my comment was that it’s entirely conceivable that it took way less time in the 2010s.

    • Replies: @Jatt Sengh
    , @utu
  30. El Dato says:
    @Jayce

    Still trying to fit Epstein into this.

  31. El Dato says:
    @utu

    If you can integrate, you can navigate.

    Why would anyone use Satellite Navigation?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inertial_navigation_system#Ring_Laser_Gyros_(RLG)

    • Replies: @utu
  32. @lauris71

    Multi Ethnic state||

    Less inbreeding among elite.

    Less Islamic Elite.

    Can easily lift an 84 IQ into high 90s for them||

    Flynn affect partially as well??

  33. @reiner Tor

    The article literally mentioned foreign help shortening this, which is a given||

  34. utu says:
    @El Dato

    “If you can integrate, you can navigate.” – Nobody ever was a fan of dead reckoning. Cumulative errors may kill you.

    https://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/techreports/UCAM-CL-TR-696.pdf

    • Replies: @utu
  35. utu says:
    @utu

    “In addition to mathematical models used throughout the INS development cycle, error models are used in global navigation satellite system (GNSS)/INS integration to determine the optimal weighting (input gain) in combining GNSS and INS navigation data. Gyro sensor models are used in GNSS/INS integration to recalibrate the INS continuously while GNSS data are available. The latter approach allows the INS to operate more accurately during periods of GNSS signal outage.”

  36. Anatoly – serious question. straight up, how accurate were Soviet ICBMs in the 80s?

    Advanced Inertial Reference Sphere

    check out this discussion of the mind blowing lengths America went to in the 80s to make the most accurate ICBM possible, pushing their guidance system all the way to the theoretical limit. the device they built was so advanced it’s hard to believe.

    today, with modern electronics, there’s no such need for a mechanical device like this thing. so even middle of the road military operations can have pretty accurate missiles. this is what Steven Pinker always leaves out of his billowing discussions about world peace breaking out everywhere. good missile technology is what makes major war prohibitve. NOT a decrease in how violent humans are or an increase in peacefulness. in places where missiles are not a factor, Pinker just straight up ignores all time high violent crime rates, since that’s not war, and also doesn’t fit in his World At Peace model.

    • Replies: @utu
  37. “They coordinated with selective nuke strikes and the missiles were a hell of a lot more accurate than we thought.”

    were they?

  38. utu says:
    @prime noticer

    CEP=40 for Advanced Inertial Reference Sphere

  39. utu says:
    @reiner Tor

    I am still toying with the idea that the accuracy implied by the damage pattern at the American base in Iraq could not have been achieved by Iranian ballistic missiles technology. Is it possible that the damage was self-administered by Americans? Why DIA/CIA would want the world to believe that Iran has a super duper weapons? Is it a preparation for the argument that only a decisive nuclear strike can take care of Iran?

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  40. @utu

    Thousands of US soldiers serve in Iraq. Also thousands of Iraqis as contractors. Do you think they wouldn’t know if no one was at supposedly one of the biggest US bases there? How could they pull this off? It’s 911 Trutherism tier.

    Also, what makes you think that Iran couldn’t have reached the level of a 1980s Soviet technology by now? Probably they could get help from elsewhere. At a bare minimum, they are cooperating with North Korea, but probably they received at least some help from Russia and China. A lot of technologies used now have off-the-shelf civilian versions. For example there are civilian GPS devices. Military devices have way more difficult requirements, but it’s probably significantly easier to design a military GPS device based on a civilian one, than from scratch. Or just modify the former. Computing power used in cell phones now significantly exceeds computing power used in supercomputers in 1970. This probably makes design work easier, too. They can draw on designs or design elements stolen or leaked from elsewhere.

    It’s not hard to believe that something the Soviets could do in this one field in 1988, Iran can also do now.

    • Replies: @utu
    , @The Scalpel
  41. utu says:
    @reiner Tor

    I hear you but 1980s Soviet technology’s CEP was 240 m at best. Not better than Minuteman III in 1980s.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  42. @utu

    The Minuteman is an intercontinental missile. With nuclear warheads. Irrelevant here.

    The OTR-23 Oka missile was a short range ballistic missile with a 30–150 m CEP, produced already in the early 1980s. Its successor, the Iskander, has a CEP of below 10 m. First launched in 1996. Iran is probably approaching Yeltsin era Russian technology levels in this one area, where they are concentrating most of their R&D resources.

    • Replies: @utu
    , @AP
  43. utu says:
    @reiner Tor

    Iskander CEP=30-70 m

    https://missiledefenseadvocacy.org/missile-threat-and-proliferation/missile-proliferation/russia/iskander-m-ss-26/

    achieves a circular error probable (CEP) of 5–7 meters (when coupled with optical homing head; 30-70 m in autonomous application [24] ). – Wiki

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  44. AP says:
    @reiner Tor

    This discussion made me look up the latest Ukrainian rockets, which have a CEP of “under 30m”:

    https://www.army-technology.com/projects/vilkha-m-multiple-launch-rocket-system/

  45. @Jatt Sengh

    It’s some place beyond the North West Frontier. Not worth a hill station.

  46. The Scalpel says: • Website
    @reiner Tor

    Thousands of US soldiers “serve” in Iraq.

    I don’t think “serve” is quite the right word. “Exploit” maybe…”self-serve” would be more accurate…

  47. @utu

    So? Is it impossible that Iran bought or developed optical homing heads by 2020? Yeltsin had this technology in 1996. Iran is 20 years behind Yeltsin’s Russia.

    • Replies: @Mikel
  48. jeppo says:

    Iran cries uncle, finally admits shooting down plane. This has been a really bad week for the Persians, like Battle of Salamis in 480 BC bad, and they had no choice but to staunch the bleeding.

    First their main military man gets whacked, seriously impacting Iran’s war-fighting ability going forward, not to mention humiliating the entire nation. Then his funeral turns into a chuckle-inducing, stereotype-confirming shitshow that now has its own Wikipedia page. Quote:

    On 7 January 2020, a stampede took place at the burial procession in Kerman, killing at least 56 mourners and injuring over 200.[4] Consequently, Soleimani’s burial was cancelled.[4]

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Funeral_of_Qasem_Soleimani

    Then their “retaliation” consisted of first phoning in a warning, followed by a missile “attack” targeting empty buildings and sand dunes at the perimeter of two bases, basically ensuring that there would be no casualties, and then immediately declaring that military actions had ceased and that QS’s death had been fully avenged.

    And then, oops, they shot down a civilian airliner full of Iranians. Plus there was an earthquake that night in Iran, which to a superstitious people could be seen as incurring the wrath of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, whom they call “Allah.”

    Now they have fessed up to the dirty deed in what is essentially a regime-saving admission. There’s no way the Mullahs could survive the wrath of their own people by continuing to deny the blatantly obvious, particularly when the victims of the shootdown were a cross-section of Iran’s globalized elite.

    So the regime lives to fight another day, but they lost this round badly and will probably have their tails planted firmly between their legs for the foreseeable future. The Great US-Iran War of 2020 ended before almost anyone realized it had even started.

    • Replies: @Korenchkin
    , @Jatt Sengh
  49. iffen says:

    I am thankful for the decision that was made in Iran to hit empty barracks. Many of the hate America firsters here lampooned Trump when he did it in 2017, but all in all this is a step in the right direction for modern warfare.

    • Agree: AP
  50. @jeppo

    There’s no way the Mullahs could survive the wrath of their own people by continuing to deny the blatantly obvious

    Laughably wrong statement

  51. @Rahan

    While Serbia’s average IQ may be 89

    Serbias IQ in 1999 was likely higher, we had a minor brain drain in the 2000s after getting liberated by enlightened Europeanizing intellectuals

    • Replies: @Europe Europa
  52. Well, I’ll eat my crow

    An inept Iranian missile crew killed innocent people.

    But as an American, I have never been more disgusted by the U.S. government.

    Look at the difference between Iran and America, on the level of the state:

    – in 1988, the arrogant captain of the USS Vincennes and his crew shot down an Iranian air liner by mistake. The U.S. never officially apologized, and moreover, gave the captain a medal* (despite the fact that other captains of the U.S. fleet considered the Vincennes so reckless they nicknamed it “Robocruiser”)

    * https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/1990/04/23/2-vincennes-officers-get-medals/cf383f02-05ce-435b-9086-5d61de569ed8/

    – in 2020, inept Iranians shoot down a Ukrainian air liner and immediately apologize. Sure they blame the Americans for “adventurism” that ratcheted up the pressure, but, they apologize.

    I am so tired of this imperialist cabal that, as Ron Unz once said, controls my country like a rabies virus.

  53. @lauris71

    Iran, like all Muslim countries, has a terrible inbreeding problem across all classes (Rouhani married his cousin)This is an IQ annihilator, take for example the Albanians and the Greeks and Slavs around them, sometimes IQ tests show 10+ points of difference
    The Serbian Orthodox Church (at least where I grew up) had inbreeding marriage laws stricter then the secular Government ones, due to the historic low population of the Balkans and the fact that those populations often get culled in brutal wars

    • Troll: utu
    • Replies: @AP
    , @JPM
  54. @Korenchkin

    Hasn’t Iran also experienced a lot of emigration and probably a brain drain too?

  55. AP says:
    @Korenchkin

    Western Ukraine less inbred than Eastern Ukraine. I didn’t expect there to be any difference. And Moldova is an island of inbreeding.

  56. @AP

    Western Ukraine less inbred than Eastern Ukraine

    Barely
    Eastern Europe is probably green due to Geography, the Northeastern European plain had a low population which exploded relatively recently
    Western Europe had a large surge in newcomers concentrated in the larger cities which
    explains the white spots (the German one seems to be near Frankfurt, makes sense since it is now a 50%+ immigrant city)
    Wish the map was more detailed on Russia and the Baltics, no way all of those regions are the same, probably lack of data

  57. Mikel says:
    @reiner Tor

    Perhaps they have made unexpected progress in the accuracy of their missiles. But this is the first time Iran uses these missiles in real combat. Even if they had the intention of not provoking casualties, they couldn’t have any certainty that they wouldn’t cause them. In fact, some of the missiles appear to have missed the air base altogether.

    Moreover, I never heard Trump or anyone else say prior to the Iranian retaliation that an attack by Iran on US military bases would go unpunished if they just didn’t kill anyone, quite the contrary. And, crucially, Iran has admitted downing the Ukrainian passenger plane so we know that they were in full alert and expecting an American response.

    So it looks like we lucked out this time but all the conditions for a devastating confrontation are still there.

    It’s good to see that Trump is able to backtrack under certain circumstances but, on the other hand, it was himself who decided (or was convinced) to provoke a textbook casus belli so we are unlikely to have seen the end of this.

    PS- How did the Ukrainians manage to get entangled in this as well??

    • Replies: @Europe Europa
  58. @Mikel

    I thought this might finally be the end of the American empire, but in reality Trump might have just saved it. Public support for US military against Iran/Middle East generally is at its highest level for years if not decades.

    Just read the comments on most mainstream media outlets, almost all comments are pro-war. The situation is very different to the Iraq invasion where most people were anti-war, this time anti-war people are regarded by the majority as terrorist sympathisers.

  59. Completely off-topic, but it’s important:

    Putin now says that Nord Stream 2 pipeline will be opened in the beginning of 2021 year. The Kremlins slowly begin to understand how badly they screwed this up.

  60. @AP

    That map is largely conjecture. “More inbred” and “less inbred” is hardly very scientific.

  61. @jeppo

    Everyone outside Israel first circles has praised Iran for quickly admitting its mistake, and looking badass shooting back at the USA, hasbara.

  62. JPM says:
    @Korenchkin

    The Muslim Arabs practice preferential parallel cousin marriage i.e. a son marrying the daughter of his paternal uncle. That is the most favored match because it keeps property from being fragmented during inheritance. It also might depress IQ as an unfortunate side-effect.

    On the other hand Maronite Arabs are very high IQ. They are for instance the highest achieving group per capita in Israel. As Catholics they are required to marry someone at least 4 degrees of sanguinity (at least 4 generations from a common ancestor) from them. Catholicism and Orthodoxy inherited this particular canon law from the Roman civil law.

    Given Maronite IQ, I imagine it is possible that other Arabs would be smarter with less cousin marriage. We’ll never know.

  63. Svevlad says:

    Iranians have lesser training and not so good equipment, but at least it’s usable and they have ammo

    We got gutted so hard due to the sanctions, which were just short enough to prevent the institutement of autarky, but long enough to fuck up all the equipment from no parts

    Otherwise, if we had actually usable air defenses (especially aircraft), they would probably either waste a lot of money, or commit suicide by proxy with a ground invasion

  64. I read that in 2017-18 in their missile strikes against ISIS they had a CEP of 50-150 meters.

    I think they made a huge jump in accuracy because they probably had optical termal imaging systems (maybe bought off the shelf, or developed separately), but couldn’t use them because their inertial guidance was so bad that it was too inaccurate for optical imaging to be of any use. So after they improved inertial guidance systems to around 1980s Soviet levels, they suddenly had precision missiles.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    , @utu
  65. @reiner Tor

    If it’s a recent development, then they probably don’t have many precision missiles.

  66. utu says:
    @reiner Tor

    “…probably had optical termal imaging systems…” – In order this to work you must first acquire target scene/terrain model. For this you need reconnaissance flights or good satellite images acquired ideally in the same EM spectrum your thermal (at night) or optical (in daytime) camera system on the missile is working.

    The terminal velocity of ballistic missiles like Scud is Mach 5 which already is in the hypersonic range, so the optical system and steering must be pretty good and fast as it takes only 12 sec to get from 20 km altitude to the target.

    I am still skeptical.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  67. @utu

    One explanation is that someone else helped them. It might be North Korea (but then again, do the Norks have the necessary technology themselves?), or it might be some other power (Russia? China?), but it’s not even fully necessary.

    For this you need reconnaissance flights or good satellite images

    Iran has had satellite launch capabilities for over a decade, so why exactly couldn’t they have at least one spy satellite somewhere? But then again, someone else might share images with them. The Norks have satellite launch capabilities themselves, and are known to have launched at least one satellite in orbit recently, but of course it’s possible they don’t have spy satellites themselves.

    It’s possible that Russia or China gave them the targets and the coordinates, given how much interest these countries would have in deterring a US-Iran war. (Especially China.) Though that would a conspiracy of sorts, it’s much easier to imagine than the much wilder conspiracy you proposed.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  68. @reiner Tor

    The Norks do have a satellite in orbit:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kwangmy%C5%8Fngs%C5%8Fng-4

    Iran has satellites itself:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iranian_Space_Agency#Launched_satellites

    Though the Iranian satellites are thought to have low resolution (150m+), I’m not sure how reliable those data are, nor how much resolution is needed. (I mean, if I took thousands or tens of thousands of photos with a very low resolution, wouldn’t I eventually be able to create a better resolution image? Especially with help from open source images like Google Earth.)

  69. AP says:

    Wall Street Journal’s Latin American Columnist (a pro-Pinochet writer) provides an interesting angle to the Soleimani killing. Apparently, Iran has been mixed up with Nicaragua, Venezuela, and most recently has been making inroads into Mexico:

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/soleimanis-latin-america-terror-11578863631

    Soleimani’s Latin America Terror

    President Trump’s decision to kill him is good news for the Western Hemisphere.

    [MORE]

    The death of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani is a blow to the theocracy’s efforts to assert its power across the Middle East. By taking out Soleimani, President Trump also did Latin America a big favor.

    As if to make the point, Cuba’s military dictatorship quickly condemned the U.S. action. The dead general was also mourned by the drug-trafficking terrorist group Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, members of the Venezuelan dictatorship, and Iranian proxy networks in Brazil, Peru, Argentina, El Salvador and Mexico.

    A hero of hemispheric criminality has been lost, and the gangsters are sad. They may also be worried. It has been a mistake to let Iran’s incursions into the region during the last two decades go unanswered. If the end of Soleimani is the beginning of a more muscular U.S. policy toward Tehran, it’s good news for Latin America.

    Iran plays the long game in its effort to undermine U.S. leadership and expand its influence around the world. In the Western Hemisphere, the regime’s Ministry of Intelligence has taken the lead by establishing “cultural centers” in many urban areas, from which it can spread propaganda, proselytize, radicalize converts and recruit locals as spies.

    But intelligence gathering has a deeper purpose, which is to support operations that follow. This is where Soleimani, the head of Iran’s Quds Force, came in.

    The force handles foreign assignments for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, engaging in asymmetric warfare through weapons trafficking as well as assassinations and attacks on enemy targets. In other words, it exports terrorism.

    Iranian terrorism in Latin America began before Soleimani took charge of the force in 1998. The 1992 bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires killed 29 people; the 1994 bombing of the Jewish cultural center known by its Spanish initials as the AMIA, also in Buenos Aires, took 85 lives. Eventually investigators attributed both attacks to Hezbollah, acting as an Iranian operative.

    In the new millennium Iran has extended its operational reach. There is reason to believe, for example, that the 2015 murder of Argentine federal prosecutor Alberto Nisman was an Iranian-backed operation. Nisman had been investigating an alleged Argentine coverup of Iran’s role in the AMIA bombing. On the eve of an Argentine congressional hearing, where he was scheduled to deliver his findings, he was found dead in his apartment.

    Then-President Cristina Kirchner, who was suspected of orchestrating the coverup, quickly called it a suicide. But prosecutors subsequently found Nisman had been killed by a mysterious intruder.

    Mr. Nisman, who was assigned the AMIA bombing case in 2005, was trouble for Iran. In May 2013 he released a 500-page report on Tehran’s covert activities in the region. He contended that a 2007 bombing attempt at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport was an Iranian-planned operation run from Guyana and frighteningly similar to the attack on the AMIA. His report suggested similar terror cells operate across the region.

    Iran has made even greater inroads in Venezuela because Hugo Chávez, as Fidel Castro’s protégé, embraced the Iranian revolution and its terrorist activities.

    Venezuela’s minister of industries and national production, Tareck Zaidan El Aissami Maddah—the son of a Syrian father and Lebanese mother—has been the point man in expanding commercial and military ties with Iran. Venezuela is also accused of handing out false identities to Middle Eastern operatives so that they can travel around the region as Venezuelans.

    The names of those who have sent condolences on the death of Soleimani aren’t as interesting as the names of those who haven’t. Nicaraguan dictator Daniel Ortega, a close ally of Tehran, has been noticeably quiet on the matter, as has Mr. El-Aissami.

    Evo Morales, the former president of Bolivia who resigned in November and is now living in Argentina, has also been keeping his head down. In July Mr. Morales openly courted Iran during a visit to Bolivia by Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.

    The two countries signed a memorandum of understanding for the transfer to Bolivia of Iranian nanotechnology, which has nuclear uses. When Bolivia’s first “nuclear center” opened in 2016, then-Vice Minister of Energy Silverio Chávez credited “President Morales’s friends in Iraq and Iran” for giving “him this idea.”

    Tehran was also looking to secure sources of lithium and support at the United Nations. Bolivia hoped to get hold of some Iranian drones; before he left, Mr. Zarif gave a speech at a public university to praise the deepening of ties between the two countries.

    A reliable intelligence source tells me that Iran has been getting closer to Mexico since President Andrés Manuel López Obrador took office 13 months ago. That fits the Soleimani pattern and is something to worry about. The end of the terrorist mastermind is a message to those in the region who harbor his networks.

    • Thanks: Mr. Hack
    • Replies: @Jatt Sengh
  70. @AP

    Why does a white nationalist support globohomo over Iran again?

    Also, agreed on the Mid Eastern connection to Latin Am being ignored in English.

    Tri-City area between Uruguay, Brazil & Argentina has been Al-Queda hotbed for awhile.

    Lot of Lebs in Brazil too

    —-
    I guess, this is what happens to pathetic, weak and gay countries who rely on the USA for support.
    You basically support the American regime because without it Khohols would not exist, and you realize at some level, that being at the bottom of the white race you’ll be the first to be sacrificed.

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