Defense Update - News Analysis by David Eshel

Sunday, July 16, 2006

INS Hanit Suffers Iranian Missile Attack

Updated: July 17, 2006:

According to Israel Defense Forces (IDF) sources, the attack was conducted by Chinese C-802. Apparently, two missiles were launched toward the Israel Navy Ship (INS) Hanit (Spear), SAAR V class corvette patrolling the Lebanese coast 16 kilometers from the shore. The attack was a coordinated, simultaneous “high/low” attack - the first “high” missile passed over the Israeli ship. Missing the target, it continued flying, hitting and sinking a civilian Egyptian ship cruising 60 kilometers from the shore. The second missile followed a sea-skimming flight profile hitting the Israeli vessel at the stern, killing four sailors and setting the flight deck on fire and crippling the propulsion systems inside the hull. Surviving the potentially devastating attack INS Hanit returned to Ashdod naval base for repairs.

The simultaneous attack was probably using two techniques as well, ensuring maximum chances of success. The Israeli Navy believes the missiles used targeing data from Lebanese coastal radars, therefore maintaining low electro-magnetic signature throughout the attack prparation phase. The first missiles was apparently used as a radar-guided “bait”. seducing the ship to deploy its defensive systems against it, focusing all the attention on the “obvious” threat while the second sea-skimming missile closing below. A supporting fact for this assumption is the fact that the first missile locked on the unfortunate Egyptian ship 44 kilometers away, as it was the next visible target in its flightpath. The second, missile could have been guided by radar or, more probably, Electro-optically. This method would require the launch of two types of missiles, a C-801/802 for the “high” profile and a C-701 TV guided missile for the “low” profile.

According to an Associated Press report, based on an interview with an unnamed IDF official, the Israeli vessel didn’t use its electronic countermeasures systems as they did not anticipate such a threat in the area. Yet, this comment is questionable, as there were repeated intelligence reports about Iranian supplies of sophisticated equipment, missiles and drones to the Hizbollah. However, the naval or coastal defense missiles were not mentioned specifically, leading the Israelis to remain unaware of the imminent threat.

C-801 radar guided anti-ship missile weighs about 750 kg, it is powered by a rocket motor and has a range of 40 km and is equipped with 100 kg warhead. The upgraded C-802 uses a rocket booster for launch, and a turbojet cruise motor, giving it a range of up to 140. The warhead uses about 180 kg of shaped charge explosives, which makes it a most capable threat to major warships including U.S. aircraft carriers. The C-701, (also known as Iranian Kosar) is deployed with Iranian forces as a truck mounted coastal defense missile, it is much smaller than the C-801/802, weighing about 100 kg, its range is about 18-20 km and the warhead has 29 kg of explosives, set with a delayed activation fuze to maximize internal damage after hull penetration. It uses an Infrared/TV seeker or active millimeter terminal guidance.

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