Vince Dhimos answered a question at Quora.
Q: WHY ARE THE RUSSIANS SO AFRAID OF THE LATEST CRUISE MISSILE TEST AT SAN NICOLAS ISLAND?
First, let’s look at a response from an American who says he is a defence contractor. I have added notes in brackets as usual for my NSS readers (not in Quora though). First, let me say that the most egregious error that all US agents involved in defence make is the steadfast contention that Russia is the enemy. While Russia is indeed opposed to the US Establishment elites, it is far from being the enemy of humankind. That distinction goes to the Washington elites. Russia has so far prevented 3 major armed conflicts and thereby saved countless lives. It prevented armed attack against the Syrian government, the Venezuelan people and most recently, against the Iranian people. It has also held a belligerent Israel in check at various times by chasing its fighter jets out of Syria.
Matt Hastings, Been a defense contractor for over a decade now
Because it changes everything.
Before, there were limited approaches that a surface launched [he apparently means ship-launched] cruise missile could take, as they all had to come from the sea, which allowed for a more effective and concentrated defense against them. Air launched cruise missiles still had a decent warning time because you probably knew the aircraft were coming.
The game has changed. Places like Iran now have much more airspace to cover against cruise missiles. [that depends on whether the US can find a country near Iran from which to launch its missiles. Qatar and Turkey are both allies of Iran. Saudi would probably fear retaliation if it allowed the US to launch from there. Iraq is already poised to oust the US forces] That means they are going to defend by spreading their defenses thin, spending a lot of money and buy a lot more of them. [Not necessarily. Russia has full coverage radar and also knows where the launch pads are (Poland and Romania at this point in time) and will have a good idea of the potential trajectories of the missiles. It makes no sense to say that they can detect incoming planes but not incoming missiles. Further, Russia has already warned that it will be pre-targeting the known NATO missile sites. Since the calculations were already done, eliminating the sites would be a cake walk. Further, the Russians would be striking with hypersonic missiles like the Kinzhal, which no known system can intercept. The destruction of the targets would be a foregone conclusion. Although the missiles may already have departed by the time of this counter-strike, the knowledge that it is inevitable would be a very effective deterrent to the leaders of those countries, who do not want an attack on their soil. Besides, the S-500 is designed to take out incoming missiles. But Matt seems to be forgetting that, based on the new Russian defence policy, any attack on Russia invites a nuclear war and the risk of annihilating humanity. So what’s the point?]
The problem is that the only defenses with the kind of reaction time needed are inherently short ranged and kinda expensive in relation to how much airspace they can cover. [Not if the S-500 is used (which the author seems not to be aware of). It has a longer range and its radar can detect the incoming missile at the time of launch. These are things that every defence contractor must be aware of. But judging by this author’s hubris, his main thrust is not to marshal facts and present cogent arguments but rather to convince the Western reader that all is well when it is not. And the purpose of this propaganda is to lull the reader into a sense of trust toward his government and its arms suppliers so that the latter can continue to sell arms that the US actually does not need.]
It’s also cost the Russians more money because they had to expedite the development of their new S-350 system to compensate for it. [the S-350 is already tested and in production. Even assuming its development had to be expedited, this would not have cost the Russians significantly more than gradual development according to the planned schedule. Unlike the US, Russia has a modest debt, as I discussed here, and can afford to spend on its arms.]
The time it will take for the US to field the missile
The Russians are actually frightened [I read the Russian language news outlets daily and have never detected any fear from anything I have read. If feel-good propaganda is the goal, then Americans may be put to ease by this post, but propaganda is not supposed to be part of an arms contractor’s job] because we don’t actually have to develop the missile, just a launcher. [This idea of just changing the launchers is exactly that adopted by the Russians. Whose fault is it if the US refuses to read the Russian press? Knowing the “enemy” is supposed to be one of the Pentagon’s jobs] And that’s a lot easier to do, especially if we just have that launcher take all standard Mk41 containers.
Which brings us to:
What the US fielding such a system would mean
The US currently has a massive investment in networked targeting infrastructure. This means that the radar doesn’t have to be right there. [Russia has had radar networking for years. It developed full-coverage radar in 2017. It also uses radar networking in Syria to help keep the pesky Israeli missiles away]
But a launcher that can take any Mk41 containers just made the entire calculus of battle change. Need defense against small Ships, planes and possibly taking out a radar station? Load SM-6’s. [The Russians have had this kind of versatile system for some time now with their Russian-Indian joint development the Brahmos missile: http://www.brahmos.com/content.php?id=10&sid=10]
Think you may have to defend against ballistic missiles? You can load SM-3’s. [Forget defences against ballistic missiles. The Russian Avangard ballistic missile flies at 20 mach and no air defences can intercept it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lv_xibIAyZc. Would a defence contractor not know this?]
Short to medium range anti air? Load 4-packs of ESSM’s.
Worried about enemy subs too close to the coast? Load VLASROC’s
And this doesn’t even begin to address the road and air mobile tomahawk launcher pose.
A lot of nations’ entire defense against the US plans just went down the crapper, especially Russia’s and China’s. A full scale war where ground forces can easily take out an air defense radar without risking a plane in the effort severely complicate strategy and neutralizes any advantage that systems like the S-400 may give [this writer apparently has never heard of the revolutionary S-500 system, which has a longer range than the S-400 and can reach outer space. The fact that a defence contractor would fail to mention this is indicative of the level of the Pentagon’s knowledge of its so-called “enemy’s” defences. As for radar, Russia claims it can detect so-called “stealth” aircraft with is longer wavelength radar. China has recently shown at an air show its new quantum radar, which makes “stealth” aircraft completely visible and can even show an image of the aircraft to the operator]. The Pantsyir already has a battered rep with the beating that the Israeli’s gave to their reputation, and this isn’t going to help things [the Pantsir was not defeated and arms buyers know this. It was swarmed in Syria and its ordnance became depleted. Ran out of ammo, that’s all. All air defences can be successfully swarmed if enough incoming missiles enter their zone of detection at the same time. This has happened to the much touted Iron Dome system in Israel as well. The highly efficient Pantsir is still the only air defence system anywhere that uses not only small inexpensive missiles but also cannon fire to stop incoming missiles. It has many times more staying power than any Western system. These are some of the reasons Russia is selling different Pantsir versions, for example, to UAE ] This means increase immunity for helos like the AH-64 Apache to operate as well.
Russia’s biggest military export right now is actually SAM systems, if they are seen as no longer an effective deterrent of any kind, business and cash inflow will plummet [this article on Russian military exports doesn’t mention SAMs, although he may mean the S-400 air defences. Since Russia also sells a dazzling array of aircraft including the Su-35, which rivals the US F-35 and is reputed to be able to defeat that latter in a dog fight due to better manoeuvrability, as well as helicopters, subs, engines, ships, it would be hard to imagine that the bulk of its sales, at least in dollar amounts, would be SAMs. But even so, the missiles of the S-400 will never be obsolete. Long and intermediate range missiles can be taken out by the S-400 just as easily as any other missile or aircraft, so it is hard to understand how this expert opinion is relevant.]
Further destroying the Russian economy [you honestly believe that Russia’s economy could be destroyed by deploying new weapons? And what earthly good would it do the US to destroy Russia’s economy? Wouldn’t it be more productive for the US to focus on building its own economy with its staggering debt? Is this the mentality of US defence contractors? Do they really want to see innocent people suffer? Starving people has nothing to do with defence] and weakening the resolve of certain element of China, especially since land based tomahawks sold to Taiwan would really make main land China’s policies change, as they would be unable to defend against that threat when combined with the other capabilities of the Mk41 launcher. [Just as this expert says that the US could take out Russian radar and air defences with their missiles, China could do likewise to Taiwanese systems – not that this would be desirable. I would hope that a peaceful resolution could be reached between the two Chinas. This is not a military problem but to a man with a hammer everything looks like a nail]
Trump just kicked Putin and Russia down the stairs and took their lunch money, because it’s cheaper to be nice to and appease the US than buying the defense equipment necessary to defend against this new threat. [I have to wonder if this author knows much about Russian and Chinese diplomacy. The US is the only nation of the three that is genuinely rude, never nice, toward rival powers!] China now has real issues about their security and the US has to spend very little money to make it all happen. [Russia intends to use the same strategy as the US, ie, converting ship-based missiles to land-based. Does this author really think Russia is too stupid to think of this obvious solution? Putin has already said he will not be suckered into an expensive arms race, but he has also made it clear that, in response to the US pull-out from the INF, Russia will focus on re-tooling the existing longer-range missiles like the Kalibr and Iskander, originally designed for launch on board ships, so that they can be launched from the ground. Further, Putin revealed to the world the new hypersonic Kinzhal missile, which has already been tested and for which no analogue exists anywhere in the world. The benefit of this missile is that it travels so fast that no known system can intercept it. Further, it is intended to be launched from an aircraft and this means it can reach the US mainland. The US has so far not developed anything like it, although work on such a design has long been underway.]
[It might be checkmate if it were not for the fact that Russia and the US have nuclear parity. So if any of the touted US weapons really turned out to be superior – for which there is no indication at this point, just hubris on the part of the US Establishment – then the US would be suicidal to use them against Russia or China because these countries each have enough nukes to destroy the US several times over and they have undetectable arms delivery methods. For example, if the US did manage to knock out Russian air defences and invade the country, Russian subs lurking in all the oceans could still deliver their nuclear weapons throughout the US, destroying all domestic US military bases, and could trigger the so-called Doomsday weapon – a nuclear-armed torpedo – to cause horrific tsunamis on both coasts, wiping out most of the infrastructure in those areas. Also completely ignored in this post was Russia’s near-miraculous electronic warfare systems, which can block the on board communications and missile guidance electronics and obstruct the GPS signals used by enemy pilots. To be fair, if I were a propagandist for US defence, I would not mention these things either]
I just now found and translated an article from RIA Novosti that helps further answer this question.
See if you can detect any of the fear (mentioned in the question) about the new US missile designs in this Russian article. I would also like to point out that Russia has warned countries like Poland and Romania that if the new previously banned missiles are deployed there, their launching sites will automatically become targets. This warning is expected to have political repercussions that may eventually deter the politicians of these countries from allowing their deployment. After all, it is clear that the US wants to use Europe as a buffer, hiding behind the Europeans to keep itself safe. This missile deployment could cause a rift between the countries and the US. Putin has said that he will target not only the countries in which the missiles are deployed but also those that pressured them to deploy. That would be the US and its NATO allies.
Expert tells how Russia can respond to US development of new missiles
Aug 23, 2019
MOSCOW, Aug 23 - RIA News. A possible response to US trials of new missiles previously banned by the INF Treaty will be the creation of a ground version of the Kalibr and the strengthening of the aerospace defense system, chief editor of the magazine Natsionalnaya Oborona Igor Korotchenko told RIA Novosti on Friday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin issued instructions to analyse the level of threats and prepare a symmetrical response to the US actions.
"The first measure is the adaptation and development of weapons systems that can neutralize Russia's threats from the deployment of US medium-range ground-based cruise and ballistic missiles in the Asian and European theatre. Such work can be implemented in a short time, in particular by creating a ground-based version of Kalibr cruise missiles,“ said Korotchenko.
Putin ordered starting work on the "landing" of the Kalibr and the creation of a medium-range hypersonic ground-based missile back in February, but, as Moscow states, Russia will deploy these systems only in response to similar US steps.
Korotchenko also mentioned as possible retaliatory measures of Moscow, the development and adoption by the Russian Armed Forces of a new medium-range mobile ground-based missile complex, as well as the accelerated implementation of projects such as the Poseidon strategic underwater drones and the Burevestnik, a nuclear-powered cruise missile with with an unlimited range.
In addition, Russia will need to quickly strengthen its aerospace defences based on modern systems, in particular the S-400 and S-500, as well as the Buk-M3 and Tor-M2 air defense systems, the expert believes.
The Tor-M2, as a means of intercepting the outer periphery with an almost absolute probability of destroying targets, should provide cover for the most important groups of Russian troops, as well as the highest-priority facilities of the governmental, military and administrative command and control system. A combination of such measures will allow us to confidently get through this period and are guaranteed to ensure the security of Russia, "said Korotchenko.
The Pentagon recently announced the testing of a land-based cruise missile in non-nuclear armaments, forbidden until now by the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty) of 1987. The treaty banning missiles in the range of 500 to 5.5 thousand kilometres between Russia and the United States became ineffective on August 2.
Later, the Pentagon confirmed to RIA Novosti that a modification of the Tomahawk cruise missile, designed to destroy ground targets, has been tested.
The Russian Foreign Ministry pointed out that during the test, the Mk-41 launcher was used (the kind deployed at the American military base in Romania). Moscow regarded this as "a reconfirmation that these installations are designed to launch not only interceptor missiles, but also cruise missiles."
The Pentagon, in turn, stated that the Mk-41 was actually used for the tests, but with a different configuration from the one in Romania.