13 thoughts on “The Libyan Missiles”

  1. This Libyan missile affair is really scary. It is so scary that even Barbara Boxer is making sense . . . (cue “Psycho” dweep, dweep music)

  2. Did Libya have some of those missiles? It seems they did and likely quite a few if the left behind packing crates and documentation are any guide. Russia knows how many missiles they sold to Libya. I hope they’re telling someone.

    As we saw in the DHL A300 airliner that was hit by a probably SM-7 back in 2003, those missiles can do a lot of damage to a plane. They don’t always cause it to crash or explode but if you have multiple missiles, you can increase the odds of downing the plane considerably. The SM-7 is an earlier version of a MANPAD. The later missiles are much more capable and harder to decoy.

    Airplane mounted defenses are good and IR jammers can work. Most of these missiles are short ranged weapons (2 miles, give or take) but the vehicle mounted ones can go further. Airports will likely have to step up physical security but it’d be hard to control all of the ground around an airport to the points where a plane is outside the range of the missiles. You might be talking about a radius of 10-20 miles and controlling that much real estate (especially for airports near urban areas) likely isn’t feasible.

  3. I do agree with the awareness. Both in the sense of what such a weapon can do and the value of combined forces. Indeed, one MANPAD will probably not take down a modern airliner. The crews are trained for engine out scenarios. But a few such attacks could be as economically crippling as a WMD. Finally, there is a value to ground troops. Raging war from the air provides tactical advantages, but misses some strategic concepts.

  4. I wonder what their shelf life is?

    IIRC, the US made Stinger has a battery with a shelf life of several years. From what I recall, the battery can’t be replaced in the field. I recall reading that in regards to the Stingers we gave to the Afghanis to use against the Soviets.

    I have no idea what the shelf life of those Russian made missiles might be. The Russians tend to make relatively simple, rugged and reliable weapons. Odds are they have a shelf life of several years and it wouldn’t surprise me if they can be serviced. That’s just conjecture on my part, though.

  5. “US made Stinger has a battery with a shelf life of several years. From what I recall, the battery can’t be replaced in the field. ”

    What is this, the iMissile?

  6. Thermal batteries have a shelf-life of several decades, as the electrolyte is solid until battery activation melts it.

  7. The Strelas used in the ’02 attack in Mombassa were 25-30 years old IIRC, and missed; though whether that was due to their age, countermeasures on the plane, or both, is up to speculation.

    Besides the batteries, wouldn’t you eventually have problems with the motors too? I’ll admit to not knowing much about them, but I’d think they’d start to crack or decompose sooner or later, right?

  8. That depends on how the motors are made and stored. When solid rocket motors develop cracks, they quite frequently explode on or shortly after ignition. That’s really bad for troop morale.

  9. Yeah, back in the day I built Estes rockets and had a B motor blow about three feet off the pad. I can just imagine what a real motor going looks like.

  10. Rand, thank you for the link.

    Any missiles the Libyans had would have needed to be stored properly. I suspect desert dust and intense desert heat is not good for even the Russian missiles.

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