Syria: Unexploded Missiles

According to Sputnik International (H/T Partisangirl):

According to Viktor Murakhovsky, member of the advisory council of the Russian Military-Industrial Commission, two cruise missiles that had failed to detonate during the US-led strike on Syria and were reportedly handed over to Russia by the Syrian military may come in handy for Russian specialists.

This has not been reported in Mainstream Western Media as of this writing, perhaps they’re trying to get their story straight.

There was mention of the “JASSM-ER — that the US used in the battlefield for the first time” in another quote, however no actual statement that the unexploded missiles were actually of this type:

“It would be interesting to look at the American missile — JASSM-ER — that the US used in the battlefield for the first time. Studying these rockets will help Russia improve its missile defense systems and electronic warfare systems,” the military analyst elaborated.

Which gives me furiously to think. I mentioned these missiles, in a response a few days ago, in a discussion that started with decoys, which according to at least one tweet from Within Syria had been “revealed” by Syrian air defense:

My suggestion was that they were a type called the Miniature Air Launched Decoy (MALD) which is a much cheaper and smaller air-launched missile that can mimic larger aircraft to divert interceptors and other defenses:

ADM-160 MALD from Here.

Given President Trump’s tweet about ‘nice and new and “smart!”’ missiles I’d guess these decoys now have the ability to mimic the radar signature of a cruise missile.

So, if I’m right, we actually have (at least) two new items in this strike: an extended-range version of a stealthy cruise missile (JASSM-ER), and the decoy (MALD) with new mimicry.

With these thoughts in mind, let’s look at what the Sputnik report actually said. We have “two cruise missiles that had failed to detonate” which could, in principle, be either JASSM-ER or MALD. Oh, I suppose technically the decoy isn’t a “cruise missile”, but it can travel similar distances, and I don’t suppose the “advisory council of the Russian Military-Industrial Commission” would cavil at calling it such.

Here are the specifications for the Raytheon ADM-160B MALD (from Wiki):

Raytheon ADM-160B MALD specs (from Wiki)

As you can see, it’s a little under 10 feet (3 meters) long and weighs 250 lb (115 Kg). And here they are for (older versions of) the AGM-158B JASSM (ER) (also from Wiki)

AGM-158B JASSM (ER) specs (from Wiki)

You’ll note that the lengh and weight aren’t given, but both are almost certainly equal to or greater than those for the earlier AGM-158A JASSM. Which would be 14 feet (4.37 meters) and over a ton.

All this info is openly available to anybody with an internet connection, in Russia and probably even in Syria.

So certainly they know which these unexploded missiles are, if either. (They could be French or English missiles as well, the French especially reportedly had some operational problems.)

But didn’t the Russians say they were JASSM (ER)? Not really. We have a sentence saying “It would be interesting to look at…” a JASSM (ER). Followed by “Studying these rockets will help” with improving defense and EW systems. I doubt we can conclude anything from the mixed subjunctive and indicative moods.

Even if they’d stated outright that they had a JASSM (ER) it could well be disinformation. An effort to embarrass the US.

But none of these stories comes with a picture. A picture, with a person beside it, or a measuring tape or ruler (or both), would be sufficient to prove that embarrassment.

Given that they aren’t being kept secret, and the incentive to embarrass the US, it seems unlikely that they wouldn’t have provided a picture if the missile was a JASSM (ER).

I can think of only one reason they might have held back such a picture if that’s what they had: that they’re hoping the US will say “oh, those were only decoys you sent to Russia,” then they release the pictures. A much more profound embarrassment.

But to me, the latter is unlikely, so it’s my guess what they’ve got hold of is a couple of decoys. Although one or both could be French or British. Or even tomahawk(s).

It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store