Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Operation Orchard – How the Raiders Sneaked In?

The question is how did the fighters belonging to the Israeli Air Force manage to avoid detection by Syrian air defense? Neither F-15s nor F-16s used by the Israeli air force in the raids are fitted with stealth technology. The answer lies in the Suter or technology akin to Suter which may have been developed by the Israelis. According to U.S. aerospace industry and retired military officials Israel used a technology similar to the “Suter” airborne network attack system developed by BAE Systems and integrated into U.S. unmanned aircraft by L-3 Communications. The system is reported to have been used or at least tested operationally in Iraq and Afghanistan. The technology allows users to invade communications networks, see what enemy sensors see and even take over as systems administrator so sensors can be manipulated into positions so that approaching aircraft can’t be seen. The process involves locating enemy emitters with great precision and then directing data streams into them that can include false targets and misleading messages algorithms that allow a number of activities including control. It hacks into enemy air defense systems so that they can be taken over. Suter includes some powerful sensors for detecting a large assortment of electronic emissions. Computer software can identify the emitters based on a database of known emitters. Based on this information potential entry points into air defense systems can be exploited. Suter can monitor enemy emitters, mislead them or shut them down. Suter 3 was tested last summer to add the ability to invade the links to time-critical targets, such as battlefield ballistic missile launchers or mobile surface-to-air missile launchers. Aircraft involved in the Suter programs include the EC-130 Compass Call, RC-135 Rivet Joint and F-16CJ strike aircraft specialized for suppression of enemy air defenses.

A Kuwaiti newspaper reported that Russian experts were studying why the two state-of-the art Russian-built radar systems in Syria did not detect the Israeli jets entering Syrian territory. Syria reportedly recently bought two state-of-the art radar systems from Russia, reckoned to be Tor-M1 launchers that carry a payload of eight missiles, as well as two Pachora-2A systems. Iran recently bought 29 of these Tor launchers from Russia for $750m in order to defend its nuclear sites. Iran reportedly had asked the same question, since it was buying the same systems and might have also paid for the Syrian acquisitions. The failure of these systems in detecting and responding to the Israeli raid therefore poses questions for arms manufacturers and armies all the way from Damascus to Moscow and over to Tehran.

For Aviation Week's story click here.