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Anti-Radiation Missiles And The AH-1W Cobra In The SEAD Role

Anti-Radiation Missiles And The AH-1W Cobra In The SEAD Role


CSC 1993







Title: Anti-radiation missiles and the AH-1W Cobra in the SEAD role


Author: Major Jeffrey L. Speer


Thesis: The effectiveness of enemy air defenses may cause SEAD operations to be the major

part of the commanders battle plan, so victory requires close coordination between

intelligence planners, fire support planners, and operational planners at each level of

the force. It also requires that all assets be considered; however, these operational

planners have overlooked to a large extent the AH-1W Cobra helicopter as an integral

element in the successful destruction of enemy air defenses.


Background: The proliferation of modern air defense systems will have a significant effect

upon any military operation. History has shown that complacency in the development

of weapons and tactics against enemy air defense systems can result in devastating

consequences. Fixed and mobile defense systems provide a umbrella that attacking

forces must contend with. The suppression of enemy air defense systems (SEAD)

represents a specific fire support requirement that commanders must deal with.

The Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF) realizes the importance of SEAD and

is fully capable of performing campaign, localized, and complementary SEAD

operations. The MAGTF utilizes anti-radiation missiles as the centerpiece of its

electronic SEAD. The AH-1W Cobra is fully capable of supporting electronic SEAD

by employing the AGM-122A Sidearm anti-radiation missile. Unified commanders

should consider the capabilities and limitations of the AH-1W Cobra for employment

in the Joint- SEAD role. Proven advances in the field of missile technology have led

to the development of a advanced (helicopter compatible) anti-radiation guided

missile (AAGRM). This new weapon needs to be fielded to enhance the combat

capability of the MAGTF and Unified Commanders.


Recommendations: Unified Commanders need the capabilities that the AARGM provides and

should push the Navy's Air Warfare Department to field this weapon.


Anti-radiation missiles and the AH-1W Cobra in the SEAD role




Thesis: The effectiveness of enemy air defenses may cause SEAD operations to be the major

part of the commanders' battle plan, so victory requires close coordination between intelligence

planners, fire support planners, and operational planners at each level of the force. It also

requires that all assets be considered; however, these operational planners have overlooked to a

large extent the AH-1W Cobra helicopter as an integral element in the successful destruction of

enemy air defenses.


I. Historical role of SEAD operations

A. Korean War

B. Vietnam War

C. Yom Kippur War

D. Falklands War

E. El Dorado Canyon Operation


II. Significant mobile air defense systems

A. SA-6

B. ZSU-23-4

C. South African Zumlac


III.Current world situation

A. Luftwaffa development of the ECR Tornado for the SEAD role

B. U.S.Army requirements in Joint SEAD

C. MAGTF requirements in Joint SEAD


IV. SEAD operations in Desert Storm

A. After action considerations

B. Fratricide

C. Task Force Normandy


V. Capabilities for the Unified Commander

A. AH-1W employment implications

B. Future developments



by Major Jeffrey L. Speer, USMC



Once man began to utilize the balloon and airplane to create a three dimensional battlefield,


defense supression became a critical concern. The ability to control the airspace above one's


adversary, whether for observation or the direct delivery of weapons, has proven invaluable


throughout recent military history. To prevent an enemy from controlling this airspace, defense


systems were developed. Then suppression of these systems became essential and has


developed through the use of technology. My intent here is to deal with the concept of


suppression of enemy air defense systems (SEAD), and show how joint staffs can utilize the


AH-1W Cobra as a credible weapons system in the SEAD role.


The advent of radar in the second world war heralded the beginnings of modern-day air


defense systems. This use of the electromagnetic spectrum gave the defender some unique


capabilities to counter the airplane. The concept married a small and mobile radar with the


actual gun battery to direct aircraft and gunfire toward the inbound threat.(1:18)


Radar integration improved anti-aircraft artillery accuracy many times over by providing an


effective and efficient concentration of fire power. This improved lethality, forced fighters and


bombers to attack from higher altitudes to stay above the maximum effective range of the


antiaircraft guns.(1:19)


Developments in radar-directed antiaircraft artillery created a defense system that had to be


dealt with during the Korean War. An effective counter measure used during the Korean War


included TB-25J "Ferrets." These modified Mitchel Bombers performed radar suppression


duties while leading formations of B-26 Invaders. (3:113) The Korean War experience


demonstrated how electronic combat could cut losses of attacking aircraft. Following the


conflict, all major powers made great strides in producing new types of equipment for bomber


protection. This allowed aircraft to enter enemy airspace without detection by threat radar and


ultimately prevented engagement by the radar-guided weapons systems.(2:253)


Learning from the Korean War, both Soviet Bloc and Western Nations during the cold war

used World War II era developments in radar and missiles to form a formidable antiaircraft


weapon. The Germans had studied the concept of surface-to-air missiles as early as 1941, but


the Soviet Union was the first to operationally employ this system against an enemy aircraft.


During a reconnaissance flight on 1 May 1960,the Soviet Union fired upon, and downed, the U-


2 aircraft piloted by Francis Gary Powers.(2:15) The Soviets had developed the surface-to-air


missile system to counter medium altitude penetration tactics used by the United States: (a


defensive tactic designed as a countermeasure to the effective use of radar guided antiaircraft




The Vietnam War was a "watershed" in the development of the concept of SEAD. On 24


July 1965, during a raid over North Vietnam, a Soviet built SA-2 surface-to-air missile shot


down an American F-4 Phantom. This was not the first aircraft shot down in Vietnam, nor the


first time an American aircraft had been destroyed by Soviet missiles. It was, however, the first


appearance of Soviet built surface-to-air missiles in Southeast Asia. This introduction into


North Vietnam exposed the American fighters to a new and deadly threat when they had


previously enjoyed air supremacy.(2:18) Until a new airborne electronic combat system could


be developed to neutralize the guidance system of surface-to-air missiles, aircraft could only


evade the missiles by violent maneuvers.(1:20)


Although the SA-2 had a probability of kill of only 10 percent, the rising losses due to this


missile were mounting. The United States lost about 160 aircraft by the end of 1972,the


majority due to the SA-2.(1:29) To meet this threat the United States resurrected the idea of


using radar busters similar to those used during World War II. During Operation Market


Garden, P-47s used radar homing devices to attack antiaircraft artillery sites along the coast of


Holland and France.(18:30) Then in Vietnam the F-100F Super Saber was chosen and the


conversion of seven aircraft began immediately for the "Top Secret" mission of radar detection


and location.(18:32) The F-100F Super Saber was joined with the F-105 Thunderchief to form


a hunter-killer team known as "Iron-Hand."(18:37) The concept would use a F-100F to


identify, locate and mark an enemy radar site for an attack by the F-105s. Additionally, the F-


100F would suppress the radar site with Shrike anti-radiation missiles while the F-105s were


inbound to a target. Thus the radar threat was prevented from detecting the killer aircraft and


increased their survival.(18:38)


During the 1972 Linebacker I operations, the SA-2 brought down 11 B-52 aircraft. Tactics


were modified and Wild Weasel aircraft were changed from the F-100's to the more capable F-


4C Phantom employing AGM-45 and AGM-78 anti-radiation missiles and a self protecting pod.


(18:38) The result was a sharp decline in losses because the North Vietnamese radar operators


shut down their radar once the hunter-killer team appeared in their sector.(18:38) With the


success of the Wild Weasels against the SA-2 missile system in 1966, the North Vietnamese


incased the number of radar controlled guns to a total of almost 10,000.(3:113) The


following year, most aircraft losses were due to anti-aircraft fire rather than surface-to-air


missiles.(18:40) An increased emphasis on electronic counter measures and refinement of


tactics contributed to a decreased in attrition to 2 percent, compared to the initial phase of the war


when attrition rates were nearly 14 percent.(2:269)


The concept of Wild Weasel operations has traditionally relied on hunter-killer teams in


which the critical factor is the ability to "transfer relative position of the threat." Tactics and


equipment would have to be developed to keep pace with the threat, especially since this would


be the last war which targeted only stationary or fixed radar sites. Intelligence indicated the


Soviets would introduce their newly designed mobile threats within a few years.(18:90)


While the Vietnam War was shaping the future of SEAD, the 1967 war between Israel and


Egypt was reinforcing the importance of air superiority. The Egyptians saw losses of over 300


aircraft on the ground and the destruction of 23 radar sites.(1:23) Using lessons learned from


Vietnam, the Egyptian air defense was reorganized by Soviet advisors who provided an


integrated air defense system. Included were improved SA-2 missiles and the recently


introduced SA-3. Mobile threats included the SA-6 missile system and ZSU-23-4, an automatic


radar guided anti-aircraft artillery gun. The concept of a radar controlled gun had been taken


one step further by placing the system on a tracked chassis to provide mobility. The missile and


anti-aircraft defense on the West Bank of the Suez Canal now provided an integrated and


mutually protective system for the Egyptian forces.(19:313)


In 1973 the Yom Kippur War provided many lessons for warfare. On the tactical side, the


Israeli Air force was denied initial air superiority over the battlefield--not due to enemy air


power but to ground mobile air defenses.(10:5) The effectiveness of the mobile surface-to-air


missiles was only exceeded by that of self-propelled anti-aircraft artillery. This was the first


employment of mobile air defense system in support of an advancing army.(9:6) The plan of


the Arab forces was to achieve a surprise attack across the Suez Canal without using aircraft to


gain local air superiority, so this had to be done by ground power:


To limit the effect of Israeli air power, the ground force would not

venture for beyond the missile and air defense system until the

Israeli Air force was exhausted by attacks on that system, allowing

the Arab Air force to contend with what was left. (17:135)


The Israeli Army could not stop the Egyptian canal crossing. Within hours, tactical air


operations would be restricted by darkness so the pilots were instructed to "ignore the missile


batteries and attack any and all targets." (17:145) Two hours later, the Israeli Air force had lost


12 aircraft on the Egyptian front.(17:146)


Concurrently the Syrian thrust in the Golan Heights was threatening Israel's heartland and the


Israeli Airforce was directed to fly maximum strikes against the Syrian tanks until sufficient


Israeli armor could reinforce the front. The pilots disregarded the anti-aircraft umbrella and


bore the brunt of the initial onslaught at the cost of 39 aircraft.(17:150) For one week the


Israeli Air force was held in check by ground-based defenses. It was not until the second week,


and a favorable ground battle that pilots could focus primarily on defense suppression.(17:151)


Of the 114 Israeli aircraft lost, 94 were lost to ground-based air defenses.(17:152) The


ZSU-23-4 was the most effective anti-aircraft weapon of the war and was credited with downing


38 Israeli aircraft despite being employed in small numbers.(13:81) The mobile SA-6 was


responsible for downing the majority of the remaining 53 aircraft with the SA-7 being credited


with only seven kills.


The result of the Yom Kippur War was the fundamental altering of the relationship between


the fighter and attack aircraft and the ground threat. Losses in this war were largely due to a


conscious decision to provide close air support before defense suppression had been achieved.


The mobile defense system was key in providing an overlapping umbrella that advanced as an


integral part of the army. However new technology and air power doctrine had to change due to


this increased lethal fire power across the spectrum of the battlefield.


Many nations failed to study the lessons from the Vietnam and Yom Kippur Wars. The


British and Argentine conflict over the Falklands showed how critical it was for nations to keep


pace with SEAD developments. The lessons learned from the Falklands conflict show several


old trends had re-emerged. The first was the occurrence of heavy losses of aircraft on both


sides during attacks on well-defended targets, because attacks focused only on the targets rather


than on the defenses which protected them.


The second was that the electronic combat capability of both British and Argentine forces


was inadequate as well as outdated. The British Sea Harrier's jamming pods were not tailored to


the Argentine radar threat. In addition, Argentine fighters had no electronic countermeasures


capability, resulting in the loss of over one third of their aircraft.(11:27)


During the conflict, the British attempted to destroy the Argentine search radar by using


Vulcan bombers carrying AGM-45 anti-radiation missiles. The mission was not sucessful


since the Argentines would shut off their radar each time Vulcan aircraft approached for the


attack.(11:29) A key lesson learned was that proliferation of western built weapons makes it


likely that fixture conflicts will see engagements by these systems in conjunction with those of


the Eastern Bloc countries and the Soviet Union.(11:32)


Taking the lessons learned from the Vietnam War, Yom Kippur War, and the Falklands


Campaign, the United States developed SEAD as a force multiplier for combat operations. On


15 April 1986 the United Stated conducted a raid on Tripoli because of state sponsored terrorism.


This operation called El Dorado Canyon consisted of 25 bombers 70 support aircraft.


(20:44) The attack provided the first opportunity for United States forces to apply many new


technologies and tactics incorporated since the end of the Vietnam War.(20:44) The attack


began at 0154 Tripoli time. All electronic combat aircraft climbed from their low level ingress


altitudes and allowed the Libyan radar to target these aircraft. This deliberate targeting allowed


the A-7 and F/A-18 defense suppression aircraft to detect, locate and neutralize the threat radars


with a volley of almost 50 anti-radiation missiles. At the same time EF-111A's and EA-6B's


began jamming and confusing enemy defenses.(20:46)


At 0200, the simultaneous attack by A-6E and F-111F strike aircraft began. The attack


lasted only 12 minutes with not one enemy missile striking a U.S. aircraft.(20:47) The only


combat loss was a F-111F that was lost due to anti-aircraft gun fire. This loss in no way


detracted from the fact that without defense suppression against a layered defense system,


aircraft losses would have been much higher.


An analysis of several mobile defense systems will show how technical developments made


them a formidable threat to attacking aircraft. Mobile defense systems are inexpensive and as


shown in past wars are quite capable of shaping events on the battlefield. The SA-6 is a mobile


low altitude weapon system with a unique integral rocket/ramjet propulsion system that


appeared a decade in advance of comparable western technology when it was combat tested in


the Yom Kippur War.(21:100) The launcher and radar/ control system are mounted on separate


vehicles. The two vehicles are linked by radio, rather than by the extensive cabling of the U.S.


Hawk system, to enhance mobility and reaction time. The system includes several radars for


tracking, guidance and command with several back-up modes, including IR or active radar, as


well as an optical tracking capability.(21:101)


The ZSU-23-4 is a mobile self propelled anti-aircraft gun. When employed with surface to


air missiles it provides a devastating punch. The quad-mounted guns can be guided visually or


directed by radar, aided by a moving target indicator. A small analog computer supplies lead


angles and the gyrostabilized mount on the gun allows for firing on the move. The real


significance is that the tracked vehicle contains the acquisition and tracking radar, as well as four


guns-- a truly independent system. Its combat debut, like that of the SA-6,in the Yom Kippur


War added a new dimension to air defense capabilities.(13:81)


Mobile air defense systems are produced by small countries as well as superpowers.


Beginning in 1993, a South African firm began world marketing of the Zumlac. The Zumlac is


a 23 mm self-propelled anti-aircraft gun system. It is essentially a Truckmakers SAMIL 100


(6x6) mine-protected truck, already used for a wide range of missions by the South African


Defense Forces, with a 23mm Zu-23-2 anti-aircraft cannon mounted at the rear. The cannon


can be changed to utilize 2Omm or 35mm ammunition. The system includes a fire control unit,


acquisition radar and a optical director enhanced by a laser-range finder. When purchased, the


Zumlac comes complete with a logistics package and a complete training system.(24:27) The


world demand for air defense systems will undoubtedly aid in the acceptance of this weapon


system and encouraged other developing industrial nations to export similar systems.


As the United States reduces its forward deployed forces which are solely dedicated to


SEAD, many countries realize the need to develop and employ their own aircraft in the


suppression of enemy air defenses. Germany has seen the need to increase the capability of the


Luftwaffe by introducing the Electronic Combat and Reconnaissance (ECR) Tornado to its


inventory. The Tornado ECR is the only dedicated battlefield electronic reconnaissance and air


defense suppression aircraft in service outside the United States.(4:615) Development of this


project began in 1986 in conjunction with the Italian Air Force. In January of 1992 the final


aircraft was delivered to the Luftwaffe, bringing their total to 35 ECR Tornado's. The Italian


Air Force also plans to retrofit 16 Tornados and received their first aircraft in January of 1992.


These aircraft are not yet fully equipped for the SEAD role, since several systems have not


yet been installed. These systems do not detract from the SEAD role, but once installed will aid


in it being declared a SEAD or reconnaissance asset for NATO. The aircraft systems that are in


short supply are the Texas Instrument Emitter System (ECS) and a Honeywell/Soundertechnik


Infra-Red Imaging System (ILS). Both of these systems are under flight test and will be fitted to


all the Luftwaffe aircraft by the middle of 1993.


The importance of this development within the German Air Force is critical due to U.S. cut-


backs in equipment and personnel forward deployed in Europe. The reduction of U.S. Wild


Weasel aircraft make it in important that the ELS Tornado be at the heart of European


SEAD.(4:616) The AGM-88B High Speed Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM) will be the


primary weapon for use in this role. The ELS will allow the aircraft to operate as a standoff


electronic intelligence gatherer.


The ECR Tornado will not lose any current capability that exists in the strike variant of


existing Tornados. The aircraft complements the total NATO air defense system, providing for


European self reliance.(4:616) The German government could expand its SEAD capability by


introducing helicopter anti-radiation missiles, like the Sidearm, to its inventory, and thereby


provide greater depth to its SEAD capability.


As the United States reduces its military forces, joint operations are critical to the successful


completion of future military actions. The joint suppression of enemy air defenses (J-SEAD)


represents that portion of SEAD which is conducted as an integrated effort by the U. S. Air


Force and the U. S. Army to locate and suppress army surface-to-air defenses.(22:59) The


significance of SEAD/J-SEAD operations is that they represent a specific fire support


requirement that Army aviation brigades must address. Field Manual 1-112 succinctly addresses


the importance of SEAD for deep operations:


Attack helicopter Battalion Commanders must use all available

means to suppress enemy air defense artillery systems. Field

artillery as well as field artillery aerial observer assets can be used

at crossing sites. U.S. Air Force EF-111s and F-4Gs along with

attack helicopters from cavalry squadron can be used in this role.(23:5)


The responsibility of Army and Air Force assets in executing J-SEAD are clearly defined in


TT 100-44-1 and reiterated in FM 71-100. The lines of responsibility correlate to the range


limitations of the force to conduct SEAD. Essentially, the Army has primary responsibility for


J-SEAD operations from the forward line of troops to the limit of observed fires, and Air Force


has secondary responsibility in this are. However the Air Force has primary responsibility for


J-SEAD operations from the limit of observed fires forward.(22:59)


The Army has the capability to execute destructive and disruptive operations in the


performance of SEAD operations. The field artillery is the Army's primary asset to conduct


destructive SEAD operations. Other assets include Attack helicopters, ground maneuver units


and mortars. Electronic warfare (EW) is the Army's primary disruptive SEAD asset. Typically,


EW assets will be employed against air defense targets that are not precisely located on or


beyond the range of indirect fire systems.(23:8) To date the Army has not embraced helicopter


anti-radiation missiles for its SEAD role. Similar to the German Air Force, if the Army were to


utilize a weapon like Sidearm it would truly add depth to its SEAD capability.


While SEAD is not the only fire support requirement of the Army aviation brigade, it is


certainly the most important. The suppression of air defense is so critical to division operations


that any identified air defense weapon system will be designated as a high pay off target for the


fire support system.(23:8)


The Marine Corps supports J-SEAD requirements set by the Joint Force Commander.(5:3)


The Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF) integrates ground and naval power to conduct


SEAD operations. Applying fire support to accomplish SEAD, the MAGTF must be able to


plan for campaign, localized, and complementary SEAD operations. To reduce the overall air


defense capability of the enemy, the MAGTF will conduct campaign SEAD operations as


J-SEAD. This will aid the joint force commander in shaping the battlefield for fixture


operations. To enhance ground maneuver operations protected by friendly air assets, localized


SEAD is conducted by the MAGTF.(5:3) Here specific threats around geographic areas are


targeted using MAGTF, joint or allied forces. Finally the MAGTF must be fully capable of


conducting complementary SEAD. These operations are conducted against targets that do not


allow for detailed planning, since they are generally pop-up in nature, providing targets of


opportunity that must be dealt with immediately.(5:4)


The MAGTF understands that dominance of the battle space is critical for a successful


operation. The greatest threat to assault support and offensive air support operations is an


integrated air defense system. As a result, the key to success is the destruction of enemy air


defense systems.


Effective SEAD saves lives and aircraft.(12:49) High speed anti-radiation missiles are the


centerpiece of electronic SEAD.(12:49) Until 1991, the only platform that could deliver such


weapons was fixed-wing aircraft. But now, with the development of the AGM-122A Sidearm


anti-radiation missile, the AH-1W Cobra helicopter can be actively employed in the SEAD role.


The commander, subordinate element commander, and staffs assess the enemy capability to


influence the use of aircraft in support of the MAGTF. The effectiveness of enemy air defenses


may cause SEAD operations to be the major part of the commanders' battle plan, so victory


requires close coordination between intelligence planners, fire support planners and operational


planners at each level of the force. It also requires that all assets be considered; however, these


operational planners have not aggressively employed the AH-1W Cobra helicopter as an integral


element in the successful destruction of enemy air defenses.


The proliferation of mobile air defense systems to third world nations has direct impact upon


the threat to a MAGTF. No longer can a raid, rescue, evacuation or other minor undertakings be


considered without the thought of mobile or pop-up air defense systems. The result of this


threat has been the development of new systems and tactics which will ensure successful




The planning of suppression fires upon an enemy tactical air defense system must be rapid,


requiring a high degree of fire support to be effective. It is the responsibility of the Unified


Commander to insure that all levels of his staff understand the capabilities and limitations of the


means at hand, to include destruction, disruption, or the combination of the two.


Inflicting physical damage to an enemy air defense system requires a MAGTF to utilize all


its lethal weapons. These systems include the use of fixed-wing aircraft, rotary-wing aircraft,


artillery, mortars, and naval gunfire. Non-lethal disruptive means include electronic


countermeasures and deceptive flight profiles. The most effective means of defeating an enemy


air defense system is to utilize a combination of destructive and disruptive means. The MAGTF


achieves a combined armies effect by using all its combat capability. This combined armies


effect enhances the result while reducing the amount of risk.


Unified and Joint-Task Force Commanders can achieve the same benefits as the MAGTF


commander achieves by utilizing anti-radiation missiles fired from attack helicopters.


Electronic warfare officers must know the capabilities and limitations of the Sidearm missile and


exploit its use for the unified commander.


The Sidearm anti-radiation missile is a quick reaction missile designed to counter point


defenses and complement high speed anti-radiation missiles carried on fixed-wing aircraft. It is


a short-range weapon, which can be carried by all sidewinder-capable aircraft and attack


helicopters without displacing other weapons from their normal stations. To date the AH-1W


Cobra and the AV-8B Harrier are the only aircraft to utilize this weapon, however.


The use of anti-radiation missiles by attack helicopters can readily improve the capability of


the MAGTF. During the amphibious exercise Valiant Blitz in 1991, AH-1W Cobra helicopters


were combined with the Light Armor Infantry Battalion to act as a screening force. These


forces were employed at the most exposed flank of the MAGTF, providing a highly mobile and


quick reaction force possessing considerable firepower. Due to the nature of the mission and the


distance away from the main force, had it encountered a mobile air defense system the quick


reaction capability of attack helicopters using Sidearm anti-radiation missiles to destroy enemy


radars would have enhanced the success of the operation.(16:55)


Operation Desert Storm is a fine example of how far our technology and training have come


in defeating air defense systems. The mutual support provided by all the services was essential


to the destruction of the Iraq air defense system. The Joint Force Air Component Commander


apportioned SEAD sorties, guaranteeing a coordinated, effective, and prioritized effort in


suppressing enemy air defense systems.


This Herculean effort does not come without a price tag. After-action reports submitted by


Marine Aircraft Group 11 after Desert Storm emphasize the difficulty in destroying targets of


opportunity versus pre-planned targets. As the threat is attrited, pre-planned missions become


less effective. This requires the placement of aircraft which shoot high-speed anti-radiation


missiles in front of the ground-attack aircraft to insure success. This could lead to enemy air


defense ambushes that would reduce the effectiveness of reconnaissance or strike packages.




Another price paid for the destruction of mobile air defense systems is that of "fratricide."


During operation Desert Storm four instances occurred when high-speed anti-radiation missiles


locked on to friendly ground and ships radar. The result was one Marine killed, two Army


solders wounded, and valuable equipment either damaged or destroyed.(15:1243)


The ability of high speed anti-radiation missiles to distinguish between friendly and enemy


radar emissions depends on many human and technical variables. The type of aircraft is


important since some possess the ability to analyze the threat to a greater degree. The human


factor is just as important as knowing the ever-changing ground situation. The fratricide


incident on February 23, 1991, during Operation Desert Storm highlights this point. A Marine


was killed by a friendly high speed anti-radiation missile when it destroyed the counter-battery


radar he was working on. This incident was the result of a changing ground situation combined


with a breakdown in communication between higher ground and aviation headquarters. The


result was a lack of coordination between units that operate radar and those units that search for


enemy radar to destroy.(15:1255) AH-1W Cobra helicopters armed with Sidearm could have


been utilized for this mission, providing the ground commander better control over fires that


occurred in his area. Fixed-winged aircraft which shoot high speed anti-radiation missiles


currently do not contact ground commanders before they employ their weapons. Using AH-1W


Cobras with Sidearm for threats close to friendly lines would reduce fratricide incidents like the


one that occurred above.


Incorporating the after-action reports of Valiant Blitz in 1991, operational planners should


have utilized the Sidearm anti-radiation missiles with Task Force Normandy. This task force


utilized the Air Forces MH-52J Pavelow, the Army AH-64 Apache helicopters and the 315th


Tactical Fighter Squadron F-117 stealth fighter. The mission of the helicopter task force was to


destroy two Iraqi early warning radars that might detect low flying Lantirn-equipped F-15E strike


aircraft heading for Scud sites in western Iraqi. As planned, the attack helicopters destroyed the


radar vans, thus providing a radar hole which F-15E strike aircraft could pass through.


Operational planners could have increased the degree of success for this mission had they


incorporated AH-1W Cobra aircraft armed with Sidearm anti-radiation missiles. An unplanned


encounter with a ZSU-23-4 self propelled antiaircraft gum could have destroyed aircraft or


delayed the opening of the radar hole.(6:18)


Proven advances in the fields of missile seeker technology have lead to the development of


an advanced (helicopter compatible) anti-radiation guided missile (AAGRM). The Marine


Corps has embraced the AAGRM as a replacement for the AGM-122A Sidearm missile. The


importance of this new weapon is underscored by the attention it received in the 1993


Congressional Authorization Summary. The House Armed Services Committee report stated


the following:


That evolving technology shows significant promise for the Navy's

AAGRM project intended to come up with a weapon that would

counter the threat posed by the proliferation of sophisticated defense

radar and missile systems through the third world, a requirement that

was reinforced by forward deployed aviation forces in Desert Storm.

The committee adds $10.1 million to the Navy's $20.1 million request

and encourages top Navy brass to fund planning FY'94

level of $19.7 million.(7:125)


To date the Chief of Naval Operations has not placed any pressure upon the Navy's Air


Warfare Department to move on this project. Current debate on budget cuts may cause the loss


of funds for the AARGM program. This would be a true loss, not only to the Marine Corps but


to the Unified Commanders who identified the requirement for anti-radiation missiles on attack


helicopters in the first place.(8:1)


The important point in this analysis is that a viable plan for the destruction of mobile and


pop-up enemy air defenses systems involves the skillful integration of all the resources available


to the Unified Commander. These resources should be utilized to collectively degrade the


ability of an enemy air defense system that would deny friendly aircraft operational flexibility.


Operational planners cannot destroy the entire enemy air defense network prior to the


commencement of a mission (although that would be a desirable and noteworthy


accomplishment); however, they should be able to reduce the quality of target data to the enemy


air defense system. Operational planners need to understand capabilities and limitations of the


AH-1W Cobra along with the Sidearm missile. These are assets that are readily available to a


Unified Commander should the need arise. To aid in figure missions, Unified Commanders


need the capability that the AARGM provides and should push for the fielding of this weapon.


The AH-1W Cobra armed with Sidearm anti-radiation missiles can fill the void that exist


for operational planners in the destruction of mobile and pop-up air defense systems. General


Gray, the former Commandant of the Marine Corps, has been credited with this statement: "It is


the third world, the so called low-intensity conflict arena, where we are most likely to be


committed this decade." The widespread arming of the third world with sophisticated aircraft,


armor, artillery, and anti-armor weapons has created a situation which Colonel L.G. Karch noted:


"The most likely of conflicts will be not low level, but mid-intensity."(9:4) Against this threat,


anti-radiation missiles and the AH-1W Cobra will be a valuable asset to the National Command


Authority and the Unified Commander in the SEAD/J-SEAD role.




1. "Air Defence," Defense Update International, 78 (December 1986),18.



2. Alferd, Price. Instruments of Darkness (New York: Charles Scribner,s Sons, 1978), 252-



3. Arcangelis M. EW from the Battle of Tsushima to the Falklands and Lebanon Conflicts

(Poole, England: Blandford Press, 1984),113.


4. "Europe's Wild Weasels" Janes Defence Weekly, (April 1992), p 615


5. FMFM 5-45(Coordinating Draft) Suppression of Enemy Air Defense. Marine Corps

Development Command Quantico, Virginia, 21 February 1992.


6. "Gulf War," U.S. Air Force Report, September 1991.


7. House Armed Services Committee Report, Items of Special Interest, 18 May 1992,p 125.


8. Janowsky, Kevin Major USMC, PMA-242, Interview, Wash D. C., 20 January 1993.


9. Karch L. C. Col. USMC, "Air Defence: Still Important, Still an Issue," Marine Corps

Gazette(May 1990): 4.


10. "Lessons From the Arab/Israeli War," Report of a Seminar, London, The Royal United

Services Institute for Defence Studies, (April 1975), p. 5.


11. "Lessons of the South Atlantic War," Defence and Foreign Affairs, 10 September 1982:



12. Lutz W. J. Commander USN, "Battle of the Airways," Proceedings(January 1992), p49.


13. Malony D. K. Col. USAF," Air Defence of Soviet Ground Forces," Air Force Magazine,

(March 1978), p 81.


14. Marine Corps Lessons Learned System, "Desert Storm 62142-96041," p. 73.


15. Marine Corps Lessons Learned System," Desert Storm Fratricide 01031-89144," p. 1243.


16. Marine Corps Lessons Learned System, "Valiant Blitz 91, 11545-55454," p.55


17. Nadov Safran, "Trial by Ordeal: The Yom Kippor War, October 1973,"International

Security,(Fall 1977), p. 135.


18. "Sam Busters," Defence Update International, 78 (Dec 1986): 30.


19. Streetly Martin, "The Israeli Experience: A lesson in Electronic Air Combat," Janes

Defense Weekly, 4, (17 August 1985):313.


20. Stumpf R.E., "Air War with Libya," Proceedings, 112 (August1986):44.


21. "Surface-to- Air Missiles," Air Force Magazine, (March 1977), p. 100.


22. U. S. Army, TT 100-44-1 Joint Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses(J-SEAD) (1982): 59.


23. U. S. Army, FM 1-112. Attack Helicopter Battalion (1986): 5-8.


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