US Military Officials Surprised By Russian Game Changer

Hitler though Russia would be easy to defeat during WWII, the underestimation of the challenge Russia posed inevitably fell on the German high command then to Hitlers doorstep.

Hitler: “Russia is like a shabby house,  you kick on the door and the whole thing collapses.”

Obama: “Russia is a Regional Power, Is No Threat”

Hitler famously said this quote above before the Russian’s repealed the Nazi from Moscow and chased the Nazi’s all the way back to Berlin liberating all of Eastern Europe on the way.

Today we hear of Russia’s old rusted military, old and decrepit just left overs from the USSR, but it that true?

Few US naval strategists would count Russia’s Caspian Sea ships as significant or one that could cause any significant damage. The Russian vessels are small missile-armed or patrol craft, nearly all well under 1,000 tons. The forces have been viewed purely as local craft to the US.

But that changed on Oct. 7, when four Russian warships in the Caspian Sea launched a reported 26 Kalibr SS-N-30A cruise missiles at targets in Syria, nearly 1,000 nautical miles away. While most analysts dismissed the military effects of the missile strikes, the fact that such small, inexpensive and relatively simple craft can affect ground operations that far away is significant.

“ This launch from the Caspian Sea was more than just hitting targets in Syria,” said a US official. “They have assets in Syria that could have handled this, the message was clear its was really about messaging to the world and us that Russia has this capability, and they can use it.”

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The Kalibr missile used in the strikes is an improved version of the Granat land-attack cruise missile, similar to the US Navy’s Tomahawk, that travels at subsonic speeds.  The Russian Kalibr long-range version has only recently reached operational status. A submarine-launched version is in service, along with a ship-launched version equipping larger ships.  Until this week it was not clear that smaller ships, including the Project 21631 Buyan-M corvettes that also took part in the Oct. 7 attacks, could operate such a weapon.

“This was not a missile seen as being normally carried by the corvettes, which had [shorter-range] Klub missiles as opposed to the land-attack version,” said Bryan Clark, a naval analyst with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments in Washington. The Kalibr, he said, “changes it from being a sea-control ship to one with distributed lethality. The US has been aspiring to do something like that, but the Russians have shown they already have it.

“The US Navy and other navies, blue water navies, really have to pay more attention to what is going on. These smaller ships are less than 1,000 tons. It is very dangerous to be dismissive, especially in smaller straits where they can do a lot of damage”

The flight path from the Caspian Sea crossed Iranian and Iraqi airspace en route to Syria, said the Russian Defense Ministry, adding that pre-strike approval was granted by both countries. On Oct. 8 reports emerged that four of the 26 missiles landed prematurely in Iran, first the US said they hit a small village the Pentagon then later retracted saying the Russian’s hit a field of cows, nether claim were back up by any proof.

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The Russians are adopting distributed lethality faster than the US,”  noted Clark.

The arguments made for distributed lethality are to put firepower on a bunch of smaller ships, have them disperse, in turn increase targeting problems for the enemy, and you may be able to generate the same kind of firepower if you concentrate the platforms.

“With the Russians, these 900-ton corvettes are harder to find than a [4,000-ton US] littoral combat ship. You can buy them in larger numbers, and they also carry land-attack weapons,” unlike LCS. “It would seem to give you a much more effective land-attack lethality than what the US Navy is pursuing.”

The US Navy is working on a more heavily armed version of the LCS, dubbed the LCS frigate, but those ships are not likely to have a Kalibr-like weapon.

“We have a new class of ships that we’re not equipping with anything that’s like this missile,” bemoaned Clark. “The Navy should feel embarrassed that they let this happen.”



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