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current lack of a British high altitude intercept missile

foofighter

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Hello Im new to this site so please bear with me if this post is a little naive. It seems that the uk lacks a medium to high altitude missile intercept capability whilst being reasonably served at lower altitudes by rapier and sea wolf. Am I correct in thinking this or out of date, I am ignoring manned interceptors. In other words what has replaced Bloodhound and Thunderstreak? Surely there is still a high altitude threat!
 

foofighter

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Of course I meant Bloodhound and Thunderbird, not Thunderstreak in my post.
 

Rosdivan

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sferrin said:
Rosdivan said:
Surely there is still a high altitude threat!

Such as...?

Bears, Blackjacks, Backfires, Fencers, etc. . .

None of which is operated by a potential threat to the Royal Navy (which would likely be operating with USN support anyhow) and, ignoring the fact that Russian bomber raids on Great Britain are wildly implausible to begin with, are perfectly capable of being handled by RAF fighters. Unless I'm greatly mistaken, with one or two exceptions (conventional armed Kh-15), all of the Russian cruise missiles would be on medium to low altitude profiles. That makes high altitude capability rather irrelevant.

If a dire threat to Britain from high altitude bombers or cruise missiles ever suddenly materializes, I'm quite sure the US would be willing to send over Patriot batteries. There's also probably some Sea Darts in warehouses that can be jury rigged for ground launch in a genuine emergency. According to MBDA, Aster is capable of high altitude interceptions anyhow.
 

foofighter

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I was thinking specifically of the abrupt change of tactics by the RAF in the gulf when Tornados proved vulnerable in the low altitude attack regime. As they found it necessary to launch at higher altitudes presumably any potential air attacker to the UK would find a similar environment at low level. The sorely stretched Royal Navy cant be expected to be everywhere with their depleted surface units, and the RAF may be engaged elsewhere. The question therefore has some validity, where is the higher altitude intercept capability?
 

sferrin

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Rosdivan said:
sferrin said:
Rosdivan said:
Surely there is still a high altitude threat!

Such as...?

Bears, Blackjacks, Backfires, Fencers, etc. . .

None of which is operated by a potential threat to the Royal Navy (which would likely be operating with USN support anyhow) and, ignoring the fact that Russian bomber raids on Great Britain are wildly implausible to begin with,


More implausible than using airliners to bring down the WTC? Never say never. BTW are you under the impression that the Royal Navy operated Bloodhounds and Thunderbirds?
 

Rosdivan

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sferrin said:
Rosdivan said:
sferrin said:
Rosdivan said:
Surely there is still a high altitude threat!

Such as...?

Bears, Blackjacks, Backfires, Fencers, etc. . .

None of which is operated by a potential threat to the Royal Navy (which would likely be operating with USN support anyhow) and, ignoring the fact that Russian bomber raids on Great Britain are wildly implausible to begin with,

More implausible than using airliners to bing down the WTC? Never say never.

But don't make large expenditures of money based on the highly implausible either.

BTW are you under the impression that the Royal Navy operated Bloodhounds and Thunderbirds?

No, I was making the assumption that, were there to be a threat, it would be towards elements of the Royal Navy acting against a foreign nation.
 

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Rosdivan said:
I'm quite sure the US would be willing to send over Patriot batteries. There's also probably some Sea Darts in warehouses that can be jury rigged for ground launch in a genuine emergency. According to MBDA, Aster is capable of high altitude interceptions anyhow.

Saying the UK could use US patriots is basically agreeing that the UK has no land based high altitude defense but the US does. You could apply the same argument to any country in the world - saying the USA will protect them ;D .Anyway can the the patriot even hit an intelligent maneuvering target? It wasn't so good against dumb, ballistic scuds. The only decent land based SAM systems these days are the Russian S-400 types and the rest of the would pretends the problem (penetration or anti aircraft defenses) doesn't exist.

Bears, Blackjacks, Backfires, Fencers, etc. . .

You forgot B-1s, B-2s, F-22s, F-15Es etc. And lets not rule out Rafales, Mirages and Gripens in the interests of fairness. Politics don't always stay the same. Good fences make good neighbors.

I'm interested to see how well the PAAMs Aster system will really be as it appears to be just an Mica air to air missile with a big booster. Even coupled with a good search radar it doesn't strike me as a significant improvement.

I agree with Foofighter. Anti aircraft defenses just aren't seen as sexy in the west as they haven't been on the receiving end of air attacks (991 excepted) since WWII and always expect to be the aggressors.

Cheers, Woody
 

sferrin

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Woody said:
Saying the UK could use US patriots is basically agreeing that the UK has no land based high altitude defense but the US does. You could apply the same argument to any country in the world - saying the USA will protect them ;D .Anyway can the the patriot even hit an intelligent maneuvering target? It wasn't so good against dumb, ballistic scuds.

PAC-3 has hit manuevering Pershing II RVs.




Woody said:
You forgot B-1s, B-2s, F-22s, F-15Es etc. And lets not rule out Rafales, Mirages and Gripens in the interests of fairness. Politics don't always stay the same. Good fences make good neighbors.

I'm interested to see how well the PAAMs Aster system will really be as it appears to be just an Mica air to air missile with a big booster. Even coupled with a good search radar it doesn't strike me as a significant improvement.


Aster and Mica are miles apart.
 

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Surely there is still a high altitude threat?
Such as?
Surely any potential enemy will aim for a perceived hole in the defences?
I hope no-one nicks the Vulcan now that it is airborne again.
Seriously, there are fighters which can fly high with a significant warload for countries that can't afford ICBMs, aren't there?
 

RHVERNON

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Simple answer is that the UK is too small to effectively employ MSAM and manned fighters in any integrated way and too big to defend by MSAM alone at any reasonable cost. The two (Fighters and MSAM) complete for the same airspace and in all peace time scenarios a visual id of the target would be required before anybody in the chain of command would authorize an engagement. SHORAD on the other hand didn't get in the fighters way and could do a visual ID before engaging. Thus from 1975 the decision was made that the UK AD system would be based around transportable ground based radars and AEW feeding into an integrated command and control system with manned fighters equipped with look down radars and Snap up / down missiles (Tornado F3 and Skyflash) and blind-fire Rapier as the SHORAD to defend point defence targets (namely airfields dedicated to SACEUR / SACLANT tactical strike, maritime and Air defence roles). Bloodhound was retained to defend the later in the south eastern corner of the UK as the British couldn't afford to buy or operate the extra 4 squadrons worth of rapier equipment required to cover their airfields. (The USAF had to provide their own systems under NATO rules and after a bun fight with the US Army, bought and paid for the operation of 3 1/2 RAF regiment squadrons to do the job for them). As for the ballistic threat, any large warhead landing in the UK would be beyond the capabilities of whole of the UK emergency services to deal with and a single 1MT bomb ground burst on Bristol would lay a lethal dose of fallout all the way to the Wash which would effectively cut the country in two. PAC III may be able to shot down a Pershing II warhead, but at what crossing angle and range? It is basically a point defence system for an Army and no good when the enemy can approach an island with around 8000 miles of coastline from any direction. The British looked a ring defence of every place that needed defending by MSAM in the early 1950s and the a total missile stock in 5 figures was required. That was dropped as soon as it reached the defence council as it was way too expensive. A single E-3 can see everything approaching the UK in time to get ORA launched and the ground based radar cover in much better now than it was in the cold war. This was because the RAF started using radar feeds from the big civil area ATC radars in the mid 1990s, orginally as a cut cutting measure (which unlike the FAA radars in the states used both Primary and secondary radar, so the 9/11 hijackers trick of turning the Transponders off wouldn't have worked over the UK, plus since then, a large number of Civil and Military Airfield radars have been integrated into the control system. The Typhoon can fly at 50,000 ft and has a decent long range weapon in the AIM-120. Rapier can be deployed to defend any point target that needs defending (i.e. the Olympics in 2012, plus the QRA fighters can be forward based as well and if you really need to defend something important for a limited period place it near a large river an park a T45 in said river).
 

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I am a bit of a lurker on here , but heres my two cents worth,

The UK fully intended to replace Bloodhound by the mid 1990s, with a new system (IMHO most likely Patriot)

https://www.flightglobal.com/FlightPDFArchive/1991/1991%20-%200080.PDF

Unfortunately the goverment cancelled the project in the post cold war "peace dividend"

Regards

Butch
 

kaiserd

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butch4343 said:
I am a bit of a lurker on here , but heres my two cents worth,

The UK fully intended to replace Bloodhound by the mid 1990s, with a new system (IMHO most likely Patriot)

https://www.flightglobal.com/FlightPDFArchive/1991/1991%20-%200080.PDF

Unfortunately the goverment cancelled the project in the post cold war "peace dividend"

Regards

Butch

Given that such a system was never used or needed by the UK during this time period(and would now be coming up for replacement/ retirement) then really nothing unfortunate about it; a decision that events proved to be a good one.
There are obviously arguments for against the UK fielding such a capability going forward (likely the current model without such weapons probably still makes most sense, especially given capability of a T45 close by if absolutely required).
 

butch4343

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Given that such a system was never used or needed by the UK during this time period(and would now be coming up for replacement/ retirement) then really nothing unfortunate about it; a decision that events proved to be a good one.
There are obviously arguments for against the UK fielding such a capability going forward (likely the current model without such weapons probably still makes most sense, especially given capability of a T45 close by if absolutely required).
[/quote]

I find it interesting that you only place value on weapons that have been employed, given the MOD bought Bloodhound and kept it in service so long, clearly there was a need throughout the cold war, by the same logic we should have binned the SSBN fleet years ago?. I would contend that a MRSAM buy would have strengthened the UK's air defences, by forcing a potential attacker to take into account MEZ's, and since most of those systems are mobile, they could have provided a valuable deployed air defence/TBM capabilty to UK forces deployed on Op Telic.


Yes we have a very real capabilty in the Type 45 these days, however remember there are only six in service, thats very few. If we are in engaged in major war operations those six very expensive destroyers will have other tasks or the RNs shiny carriers will sail very lightly protected.

Ill wager if we drill down the numbers it vastly cheaper to run a number of SAM sites than it is to provide the same capabilty by surface warship, simply by the fact the land based component doesnt require a hull, and all that entails to go with the SAM system.

Butch
 

kaiserd

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butch4343 said:
Given that such a system was never used or needed by the UK during this time period(and would now be coming up for replacement/ retirement) then really nothing unfortunate about it; a decision that events proved to be a good one.
There are obviously arguments for against the UK fielding such a capability going forward (likely the current model without such weapons probably still makes most sense, especially given capability of a T45 close by if absolutely required).

I find it interesting that you only place value on weapons that have been employed, given the MOD bought Bloodhound and kept it in service so long, clearly there was a need throughout the cold war, by the same logic we should have binned the SSBN fleet years ago?. I would contend that a MRSAM buy would have strengthened the UK's air defences, by forcing a potential attacker to take into account MEZ's, and since most of those systems are mobile, they could have provided a valuable deployed air defence/TBM capabilty to UK forces deployed on Op Telic.


Yes we have a very real capabilty in the Type 45 these days, however remember there are only six in service, thats very few. If we are in engaged in major war operations those six very expensive destroyers will have other tasks or the RNs shiny carriers will sail very lightly protected.

Ill wager if we drill down the numbers it vastly cheaper to run a number of SAM sites than it is to provide the same capabilty by surface warship, simply by the fact the land based component doesnt require a hull, and all that entails to go with the SAM system.

Butch
[/quote]

I believe in the value of sufficient but not excessive deterrence.
In the time period you are talking about (very late 80's early 90s to earlier this decade) how would the type of system you are talking about been better then what was procured instead (Tornado F3, then Typhoons for interception/ air policing, plus T45s, Rappier developments for point defence.
In this time period your proposed system would have been a very expensive solution in search of a problem to solve; no one making the decisions and paying the bills would have reasonably seen the need re: home defence. And no such system was needed for Operation Telic because by that stage Iraq had no weapons of that type. Imagine the opportunity costs of the money for your desired system; what would have to be sacrificed for it?
 

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The early 1990's are interesting in that there was a number of programs and requirements that were ultimately dropped and passed off as a 'peace dividend' of one sort or another.

A MR-SAM system seems one of them.

What is both interesting and sad, is the absence of a UK solution. The options being Patriot, and SAMP-T (Aster/PAAMS). Which rather exposes the earlier failure in this field going back to the 1970's, when a replacement to Bloodhound ought to have been pursued, as it seems a alternative to Sea Dart was however briefly mused over.
 
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Ian33

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When 19 SQDN RAF Regiment were at Brize Norton, the one thing that was brought up time, and time again, was a longer ranged SAM system to be deployed further out, a dual layering if you like.

Rapier is all well and good, but, what got past the airborne defences had a massive, almost countrywide play area before meeting short ranged efforts.

Terrible state of affairs then, terrible state of affairs now.
 

kaiserd

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Ian33 said:
When 19 SQDN RAF Regiment were at Brize Norton, the one thing that was brought up time, and time again, was a longer ranged SAM system to be deployed further out, a dual layering if you like.

Rapier is all well and good, but, what got past the airborne defences had a massive, almost countrywide play area before meeting short ranged efforts.

Terrible state of affairs then, terrible state of affairs now.

I think we should clarify exactly what we are talking about in this discussion; are we talking about Patriot or equivalent mobile systems to help support/ defend foreign deployments, or a missile system intended as key part of the defense of the UK itself?

If it's the former there is a valid argument for having a small number of such systems, the main argument against being the successful reliance on allies to provide this capability, and the pro/con of other systems that could be bought with the money.
Re: "home defense" the argument appears far more weighted against; no Western country (apart from maybe Israel) actually fields a multi tiered home air defence with interceptor aircraft and multiple layers of SAM types. Apart from limited US forays into extremely expensive high tier missile defence can't think of any remotely recent western SAMs that weren't primarily focused on defending deployed military forces.
The economic and political aspects render a SAM defense for the whole of the UK impossible (the Bloodhounds as initially conceived were only intended to buy the V-bomber bases some time).
The reality is that beyond air policing a full all out conventional attack on the UK by Russia (or USSR in the past) could not be fully defended and would be met with a full retaliatory nuclear strike.
 

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Is it fair to assume that some of the current air defence work is inspired by the threat from hijacked aircraft rather than Russian bombers?

Genuine question.
 

sferrin

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kaiserd said:
The economic and political aspects render a SAM defense for the whole of the UK impossible

Economic? Please. The entire country could be covered by three or four Aegis Ashore sites equipped with SM-6/ESSM.
 

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sferrin said:
kaiserd said:
The economic and political aspects render a SAM defense for the whole of the UK impossible

Economic? Please. The entire country could be covered by three or four Aegis Ashore sites equipped with SM-6/ESSM.

It could be much less, aegis ashore covering the northern / northwest approaches and the point defenses against cruise missiles at key facilities south. Only 2 sites needed then.

On a similar note:
When does the US start looking at that for defense of port / embankment areas against cruise missile attacks?
 

sferrin

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DrRansom said:
When does the US start looking at that for defense of port / embankment areas against cruise missile attacks?

Probably never. If they didn't in the 80s they sure won't now. I shudder to think the damage a few Oscar IIs could do as a decapitating strike with a load of 24 nuclear armed P-700s each.

D.C.
Langley
Norfolk
Newport News
Portsmouth
The Pentagon
Oceana NAS
NY City/Manhattan
Baltimore
Philadelphia.
Reagan International Airport

Have another hit Kings Bay / Jacksonville

Another hit everything of note from San Diego to L.A.

Another Bremerton / Everett / Seattle

All gone in minutes with no warning. Time them so the all land at the same time. The devastation that could be incurred without launching a single ICBM or SLBM is mind-boggling.
 

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It's actually getting even worse. The Pr.949AM standard ships will have 72 Oniks.
 

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JFC Fuller said:
It's actually getting even worse. The Pr.949AM standard ships will have 72 Oniks.

I think that this is the serious problem. With that number of missiles, you don't necessarily need to use nuclear weapons in a first strike. A Russian cruise missile attack could cripple the USN's primary bases, making it much harder to move ships / equipment across the ocean to Europe.
 

kaiserd

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DrRansom said:
JFC Fuller said:
It's actually getting even worse. The Pr.949AM standard ships will have 72 Oniks.

I think that this is the serious problem. With that number of missiles, you don't necessarily need to use nuclear weapons in a first strike. A Russian cruise missile attack could cripple the USN's primary bases, making it much harder to move ships / equipment across the ocean to Europe.

All of this somewhat misses the point that any significant conventional or nuclear military attack on the UK would very likely trigger a full nuclear retaliatory strike. And Putin/ Russia knows this.
A far more likely scenario (and hence a better recipient of the available money re: defences & counters) would be large scale Russian cyber attacks and other more unconventional methods with (most importantly) plausible deniability.
I'd defer to experts in this field but your estimates re: what would be required to provide the whole of the UK with 100 percent SAM defences do sound wildly optimistic.
 

kaiserd

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kaiserd said:
DrRansom said:
JFC Fuller said:
It's actually getting even worse. The Pr.949AM standard ships will have 72 Oniks.

I think that this is the serious problem. With that number of missiles, you don't necessarily need to use nuclear weapons in a first strike. A Russian cruise missile attack could cripple the USN's primary bases, making it much harder to move ships / equipment across the ocean to Europe.

All of this somewhat misses the point that any significant conventional or nuclear military attack on the UK would very likely trigger a full nuclear retaliatory strike. And Putin/ Russia knows this.
A far more likely scenario (and hence a better recipient of the available money re: defences & counters) would be large scale Russian cyber attacks and other more unconventional methods with (most importantly) plausible deniability.
I'd defer to experts in this field but your estimates re: what would be required to provide the whole of the UK with 100 percent SAM defences do sound wildly optimistic.

Quick addendum after re-reading the comments above.
Why would the Russians strike the US with a mass nuclear or conventional attack and not expect that they have fired the first shots in a nuclear war in which they have just doomed tens of millions of their own people to die? For the satisfaction of knowing they fucked up a portion of the US military forces and gained a military advantage for the approx 1 hour human civilisation has left before much of the human race dies in a massive escalating nuclear exchange?
 

DrRansom

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kaiserd said:
All of this somewhat misses the point that any significant conventional or nuclear military attack on the UK would very likely trigger a full nuclear retaliatory strike. And Putin/ Russia knows this.
A far more likely scenario (and hence a better recipient of the available money re: defences & counters) would be large scale Russian cyber attacks and other more unconventional methods with (most importantly) plausible deniability.
I'd defer to experts in this field but your estimates re: what would be required to provide the whole of the UK with 100 percent SAM defences do sound wildly optimistic.

Quick addendum after re-reading the comments above.
Why would the Russians strike the US with a mass nuclear or conventional attack and not expect that they have fired the first shots in a nuclear war in which they have just doomed tens of millions of their own people to die? For the satisfaction of knowing they fucked up a portion of the US military forces and gained a military advantage for the approx 1 hour human civilisation has left before much of the human race dies in a massive escalating nuclear exchange?

A conventional strike would be part of a general Russia / NATO war, probably over the Baltics. As a conventional strike against military targets, it wouldn't rise to the level requiring a nuclear counter-attack. For the Russian threat to England, Russia can target English airfields / ports to delay reinforcement flow to Europe from CONUS, again during a conventional phase element of a Russia / NATO war.

That being said, you're right that the bigger threat is a crippling cyber attack. Though, I'd argue that a truly crippling cyber attack would be more likely to rise to the level demanding a nuclear-like response, as it would be a counter-value strike with a high potential for mass civilian casualties.
 

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The only reason why Bloodhound lasted so long in service was that NATO would only provide Hardened Aircraft Shelter (HAS) construction funds if there was two tier SAM defence over the airfield. It was cheaper to keep the dog than 100% fund the HAS's. I'm sure the dog would have been retired in the mid 70's if it hadn't been for this.
 

kaiserd

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JFC Fuller said:
It's not either cyber or cruise missile. It's both, a combined cyber/cruise missile attack could hit key NATO military facilities and severely degrade any NATO attempt to respond to aRussian move against the Baltic states. Such an attack would not have to learnt large-scale civilian disruption and thus wouldn't necessitate a nuclear response.

If such an attack seriously degraded your ability to respond with conventional weapons of course it would warrant a nuclear response. While no one wants a hair trigger to nuclear war your adversaries need to know that a major attack can trigger the full response.
 

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It does seem a bit of a dilema to choose between Patriot/MEADS and SAMP-T (landbased PAAMS).
Since who at the moment uses SAMP-T? Yet we have forked out for PAAMS, and of note FLAADS is derived from PAAMS in part.
 

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For cruise missile defense, given the concentration of civilian air traffic in and around the UK,
an interceptor with an IIR seeker and a two-way datalink capable of transmitting seeker imagery to aid in
target recognition seems essential.

I'm curious to see if the active seeker upgrade for SM-2 extends to the SM-2 Block IIIB (the one with the IR seeker).

zen said:
It does seem a bit of a dilema to choose between Patriot/MEADS and SAMP-T (landbased PAAMS).
Since who at the moment uses SAMP-T? Yet we have forked out for PAAMS, and of note FLAADS is derived from PAAMS in part.

The Low Cost Interceptor (had all of the features described above and uses a version of the turbojet used in MALD and UK SPEAR)
was originally intended for MEADS + JLENS.

And JLENS brings up the more general problem of OTH cruise missile detection; the open literature for OTHB Radar and HFSWR
admit marginal effectiveness against CMs.
 

uk 75

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we seem to be back to the inf debate of the 70s.
I always thought NATO wasted money on meeting the SS20 threat, which was a Soviet response to NATO replacing obsolete JUPITERand THOR missiles with POLARIS and POSEIDON allocated targets in Eastern Europe.
Any ISKANDER launch at the West and a TRIDENT immolates Kaliningrad.
 

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Plenty of hills in the UK. What sensors are you using to cue your missile systems? Area air defence starts to get very expensive very quickly
 

marauder2048

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red admiral said:
Plenty of hills in the UK. What sensors are you using to cue your missile systems? Area air defence starts to get very expensive very quickly

The UK has at least three new TPS-77 L-band AESAs at Trimingham, on the coast of East Anglia, Brizlee Wood, near the coast of Northumbria, and at Staxton Wold in North Yorkshire.

They could follow Singapore's lead who are complementing their 77s with half a JLENS orbit (the FCR part).
 

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red admiral

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marauder2048 said:
They could follow Singapore's lead who are complementing their 77s with half a JLENS orbit (the FCR part).

Or more AWACS orbits etc. Sufficient coverage for targeting, especially vs low altitude targets, will not be cheap.
 

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