Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Preparing for the Imminent Threat

Despite the talk of Israeli or American air strikes on Iran to destroy their nuclear facilities, I'm beginning to think that as far as America is concerned, we won't try this. It will be too easy for Iran to claim innocence and the world will believe them.

But do you really believe the mullahs of Iran can be deterred?

Yet Iran is driving for nuclear weapons without a doubt. So what do we do?

Given that even anti-war types claim they'd support action if the threat was obvious and imminent, how do we meet that standard and still protect ourselves?

I had a couple posts last year that pointed to what we may be planning (see here and here).

As I wrote in the latter link:

So, we will have bunker-busting missiles to hit the silos and other nuclear infrastructure in a disarming strike, aircraft to circle launch sites to shoot down missiles we don't knock out in their silos, long-range ground and sea-based anti-missiles to shoot down missiles that escape the fighters orbitting the launch sites, airborne PAC-3s that can be flown to hit the missiles while still far from the target, and point-defense ground-based PAC-3s. It will be a layered defense that starts with offense and ends with last-ditch shots taken from the target site.

In the entire depressing area of the lack of will to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons, this is the one really hopeful sign that I've seen. We will be able to detect new missile launching facilities. And if our government and people belatedly discover that Iran is a threat after Iran deploys nuclear missiles, we will still have an offensive option rather than believing we can deter nuts with nukes.

We won't rely on the mythical ability to deter crazed religious fanatics. But we won't try to defang Iran with a preemptive aerial campaign.

We will hope for a revolution inside Iran (do I hope too much to think we are actively working on this?) and in case we don't get that lucky, prepare for the moment that Iran's mullahs show their first nuclear missiles to the world.

Then we'll strike hard using advance penetrating precision weapons with a layer of defenses backstopping our effort to kill leakers, stretching from the Iranian target site back to our assets that might be struck. We'll use modified Sidewinders and AMRAAM on fighters over the enemy target to hit missiles in their boost phase, airborne PAC-3 missiles to strike missiles in flight once we know where the enemy missiles are headed, and ground-based point defense PAC-3s and area missile defenses based on land and sea. Add in airborne lasers later. Hopefully, we nail the missiles on the ground and if not, somebody on the ballistic arc manages a hit before detonation over the Iranians' target.

If war opponents really won't let us defend ourselves until the threat is obviously imminent even to the most dense in the West, this just might do the trick. I hate it that we must defend ouselves under such ridiculous restrictions, but you go to war with the anti-war side you have and not the anti-war side you wish you had.

Of course, Israel may not have signed on to this last ditch strategy, given that they're the first target of an Iranian nuke.

UPDATE: A briefing on our defense in depth, including plans and current systems.

Although boost-phase interception is discussed, this briefing does not mention the fighter-carried modified air-to-air missiles that would only be useful during a strike on Iran's missile sites.