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Which kind of target is harder to intercept?

which is harder for a ship air defense to intercept?

  • very fast target at high altitude, detected from very long range

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • slower target at very low altitude, detected from very short range

    Votes: 4 100.0%

  • Total voters
    4

Ronny

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To attack a destroyer, especially one with good long range air defense, a common tactics used is sea skimming flight, so that aircraft/missiles can get very close to target before they are detected and give the air defense the shortest alert time as possible. For subsonic cruise missile, it is very straight forward, the lower you fly, the shorter the radar horizon will be, and your speed doesn't change significantly with altitude so missile at lower altitude is better. But for supersonic missiles, there is an issue
For example:
P-700: top speed when launched from high altitude: Mach 2.5, top speed when launched from low altitude Mach 1.6
ASMP-A
: top speed when launched from high altitude: Mach 3, top speed when launched from low altitude: Mach 2
ASM-3
: top speed when launched from high altitude: Mach 3, top speed when launched from low altitude: ? (probably same as ASMP-A)
Rocks: top speed when launched from high altitude: Mach 5, top speed when launched from low altitude: Mach 3? (since it is roughly the same size as ATACMS)
AARGM-ER top speed when launched from high altitude: Mach 4 top speed when launched from low altitude: Mach 2.5-3?
we can see the trend, supersonic missile aren't as fast when launched from low altitude because the high density will cause great drag especially at supersonic speed. However, on the other hand, launching missile from low altitude shorten the warning time and warning distance significantly.
For example:
For a radar on 25 meters high mast, the radar horizon to a target flying at 50 meters altitude is 49.5 km while the radar horizon to a target flying at 8000 meters is 390 km. The distance is 7.7 times shorter, come with that is much shorter warning time, and the speed of interceptor at low altitude is slower as well
So the question is: which is harder for a ship air defense to intercept?
a) very fast target at high altitude, detected from long range
b) slower target at very low altitude, detected from very short range
 

GARGEAN

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Little corrections: those speeds are not for launch altitudes but for flight altitude. AShM launched from ship can have lo/lo or hi/lo trajectory, same goes for air launched.

As for question - near Mach 2 flying at low altitude and maneuvering is MUCH harder target than high flying Mach 3.5-4. Problems for defender might start at Mach 5 and higher, cuz not a lot of systems today can work with such fast atmospheric targets.
 

Ronny

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Little corrections: those speeds are not for launch altitudes but for flight altitude. AShM launched from ship can have lo/lo or hi/lo trajectory, same goes for air launched.
I guess, but isn't missile launched from high altitude have additional potential energy to increase its terminal speed
As for question - near Mach 2 flying at low altitude and maneuvering is MUCH harder target than high flying Mach 3.5-4. Problems for defender might start at Mach 5 and higher, cuz not a lot of systems today can work with such fast atmospheric targets.
So with the exception of Rocks, all others missiles in my list are harder to intercept when launched and fly at low altitude?
 

GARGEAN

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Little corrections: those speeds are not for launch altitudes but for flight altitude. AShM launched from ship can have lo/lo or hi/lo trajectory, same goes for air launched.
I guess, but isn't missile launched from high altitude have additional potential energy to increase its terminal speed
As for question - near Mach 2 flying at low altitude and maneuvering is MUCH harder target than high flying Mach 3.5-4. Problems for defender might start at Mach 5 and higher, cuz not a lot of systems today can work with such fast atmospheric targets.
So with the exception of Rocks, all others missiles in my list are harder to intercept when launched and fly at low altitude?
1: really applies to AAM which have significant ballistic portion in their flight. AShMs are different in being powered during whole flight. High alt launch increases range, but not speed.
2. Basically yes. But as usual it depends on a lot of factors. Some missiles are more maneuverable in terminal phase of flight. Some have own ECM. Some AA systems start to have problems above Mach 3, not Mach 5 and so on. It's always better to look at specific example rather than generalize.
 

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