3 sailors are still missing from the Israeli Navy gunship struck by a missile, a fourth First Sergeant Tal Amgar aged 21 has been killed.
UPDATE: Warship hit by Hezbollah missile makes it to Ashdod port under its own steam (Ch. 1 News, Israel)
Three soldiers are still missing following Hizbullah's attack on the Israeli Navy boat:
- Sergeant Yaniv Herschkowitz, 21, of Haifa
- Corporal Shai Atias, 19, of Rishon Lezion
- Master Sergeant Dov Sternshus, 37, of Carmiel
Large missile attack
The interesting details regarding the weapon being reported as 'possibly used' in the attack, are being cited as Iran's direct hand in Hezbollah. Iranian weapons & arms have been seen in Iraq where explosives have steadily become more lethal, & Iranian weapons litter the hezbollah arsenal. From simpler katyusha type rockets and GRAD missiles, to heavier rockets like the Fajr-5 type mobile missile launchers.
Haaretz on the missile attack
[...] Four Israel Navy sailors were reported missing after an Iran-manufactured C-802 missile hit the ship. Initially, the army was not certain whether a missile or explosives-laden drone hit the vessel on Friday night. [...]
Cruise Missile: C-802, SACCADE, Ying Ji-82
The names represent a Chinese developed cruise missile, like an American Tomahawk or Harpoon missile designed for anti ship attacks.
When the missile is launched, the solid rocket propellant booster accelerate the speed of the missile from 0 to 0.9 Mach in few seconds. After the booster burns out, it detaches from the missile body and the missile's turbojet engine starts working. Controlled by the inertial autopilot system and radio altimeter, the missile flies at a cruising speed of 0.9 Mach and a flight altitude of 20-30 metres.
When entering the terminal phase of flight, the missile switches on its terminal guidance radar to search for the target. Once locking on the target, the missile reduces its flight altitude to 5-7 metres at a distance of few kilometres away from the target. The missile may also maneuver during the terminal phase to make it a more difficult target for shipborne air defense systems. When approaching the target, the missile dives to hit the waterline of the ship to inflict maximum damage.
As well as its terminal guidance radar, the YJ-8 missile is also equipped with a radio altimeter for use with its autopilot during cruise. The missile's terminal guidance radar with monopulse system possesses high anti-jamming capabilities. The high precision radio altimeter allows the missile to have minimum-altitude flight above the sea, which is normally 20-30 m.
The missile uses a 165 kg semi-armor-piercing anti-personnel blast warhead which relies on the missile's kinetic energy to pierce the deck of a ship, penetrate into and explode in the ship's interior. In addition, the YJ-82 might have a higher single hit probability than the YJ-8/YJ-81.
Of course, Iran conveniently made a large arms purchase of these Chinese weapons, these cruise missiles after the 1st Gulf War in 1991.
[...] Following the 1991 Gulf War Iran imported the C-802 anti-ship cruise missile from China. China suspended exports in 1996 in response to comlaints by the the United States. In December 1996 Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, John Shalikashivili, warned Chinese Defense Minister General Chi Haotian that arms exports would increase destabilizing factors in the region. No international agreement bans transfers of anti-ship missiles, and the C-802 is not covered by the MTCR, which controls exports of ballistic and cruise missiles that can deliver 500 kg. warheads to 300 km. Iran expected to purchase 150 C-802 missiles from China but only received a half of them because of the arms suspension. By mid-1997 Iran reportedly possessed some 60 of the missiles deployed in coastal batteries on Qeshm Island, a strategic point on the eastern side of the Arabian peninsula.
In 1997, General J.H. Binford Peay, Central Command commander, said that China transferred 20 patrol boats with 15 equipped with C-802 missiles (Washington Times, January 29, 1997). [Some reports claim that China may have transferred hundreds of C-802s, although these claims are not widely attested].
If the ship attack featured this type of advanced weapon, there can be no question where Hezbollah got it from. Cruise Missiles don't grow on trees, I'm speculating but such a weapon might even be under the lock & key and firing thumb of Iranian Revolutionary Guards which make their home within Hezbollah and the Beka'a valley. (Update: Fox News confirms Iranian Revolutionary Guards evil hand.)
If indeed this report proves accurate (it originates with the AP I think), beyond the rocket strikes of Haifa and now Tiberias in the North of Israel by Hezbollah, this would be an even more serious escalation. To defend against larger missiles like the Iranian FAJR-5 the IDF has deployed U.S Patriot batteries in the North, a testament to the seriousness of the Hezbollah / Iranian missile threats.
Loss of life
With three crewmen missing and presumed killed in the attack on the vessel, this is not a light blow. Such a gunship carries about 80 people and miraculously no more were killed. Larger questions will loom about the reported attack after the Lebanese operations are concluded, as these gunboats carry highly advanced defensive weapons designed to try & protect the ship from rockets & missiles.
Saar: Gun ship / boat
UPDATE – Debka with an amazing look adds:
The disaster that overtook one of the Israeli Navy's state of the art warships, Ahi-Hanit, was thoroughly planned in advance by an enemy which managed to take Israel's military commanders by surprise. It has shocked Israel's military to a degree comparable to the profound effect on US forces of al Qaeda's 2000 attack on the USS Cole in Aden.
The Saar-5 class corvette, with a crew of 61 seamen and a 10-man helicopter crew, was hit Friday, July 17 at 20:15 hours, while shelling Beirut international airport. Four crewmen were reported missing. One was found dead Saturday aboard the crippled ship. Three are still sought by rescue teams.
DEBKAfile's military sources reveal that the warship was struck from Beirut by an Iran-made C-802 shore-to-sea missile of the Silkworm family. Weighing 715 kilos, with a range of 120km, the missile is armed with a strong anti-jamming capability, which lends it a 98% success rate in escaping interception.
The Israeli ship is armed with an advanced Barak anti-missile system, which may have missed the incoming missile. Israeli military planners must now look at the vulnerability of the navy following the appearance of the first Iranian C-802 missiles [...]
If so, the terrorists have struck again, this time with advanced Iranian weapons.
UPDATE II: YNET IDF targets radar installations
IDF: We destroyed Lebanon's coastal radars
Army continues massive attack on Hizbullah strongholds in south Beirut, strikes organization's High Council building, its spiritual leader's headquarters, and home of senior Hamas member in city – Roee Nahmias [...]
Major-General Gadi Eizenkot, head of the General Staff Operations Branch, said in a briefing held at the Kirya base in Tel Aviv that "in the evening hours we destroyed all of Lebanon's coastal radars. The reason for the radars' destruction was the part they played in the attack on an Israeli missile boat on Friday, in which one soldier was killed and another three went missing."
Brigadier-General Noam Page of the Navy said that the IDF was not aware that Hizbullah had in its possession a C802 missile of the type fired at the boat.
"We didn't know such a missile threat existed in this sector, and therefore we didn't act accordingly. In wake of the attack, we have instructed all our boats to act against this threat," he stated.
Tons of LINKS: The Truth Laid Bear – Crisis in the Middle East