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Does anti-aircraft artillery still matter?

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  • Does anti-aircraft artillery still matter?

    Discuss! I for one know little about the subject but I'm very curious to know why it is that some militaries (e.g. Russia's) still favour the technology while others don't — and why the naval use of anti-aircraft guns (or for that matter conventional guns used in an anti-aircraft role) doesn't inspire a resurgence of land-based systems. One of the disadvantages many sources give as a reason for the flak's decline is the high speed of the potential aggressor in our age, but aren't CIWS guns capable of hitting even the swiftest of targets nowadays?
    Looking forward to your input.

  • #2
    I'd suggest that one major factory is that AA rounds are a lot cheaper than missiles. You'll note that the Russian approach typically has a mixture of guns and missiles so that depending upon target the most likely method of engagement can be chosen. Guns for helicopters and slow jets, missiles for the fast ones.

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    • #3
      It also forces aircraft and helicopters to fly higher or further than the desired enagement range and into the envelope of conventional Sam's.

      And let's face it, who doesn't love tracer fire

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      • #4
        Take a good look at how these weapons are being used in the Middle East and Africa - I'd say they still matter and then some.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by muck View Post
          Discuss! I for one know little about the subject but I'm very curious to know why it is that some militaries (e.g. Russia's) still favour the technology while others don't — and why the naval use of anti-aircraft guns (or for that matter conventional guns used in an anti-aircraft role) doesn't inspire a resurgence of land-based systems. One of the disadvantages many sources give as a reason for the flak's decline is the high speed of the potential aggressor in our age, but aren't CIWS guns capable of hitting even the swiftest of targets nowadays?
          Looking forward to your input.
          Not only Russia but Germany too I believe.

          It's not flak but 23mm and 30mm autocannon shells. There's is a big big difference between flak and modern high-speed autocannon and CIWS platforms.

          Back in the 60s/70s larger calibres were the hit of the day - Soviet ZSU 57mm, Chinese Type 63 37mm, Swedish Bofors 57mm & 40mm etc...

          And now they're going back to the larger calibres - at least Russia is; the plan is for the new 45mm or 57mm autocannon turrets that are to be fitted to the Bumerang/Kurganets/Armata IFVs to have a AAA role too. Perhaps instead of dedicated gun-missile vehicles - leaving the IFVs to provide auto-cannon fire against air targets and the actual SHORAADs to just be fitted with missiles w/o the guns. I'm speculating here but there are a few indications that this is where it's heading.
          With fully networked armoured columns providing constant data exchange, SHORAAD vehicles embedded - it makes sense to spread out the responsibility and increase the firepower that way.

          Reason they want to go to heavier shells now is because of the new ability to make them guided/homing - you can't do that with 23mm and 30mm calibre ammunition.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by LAworkerbee View Post
            Take a good look at how these weapons are being used in the Middle East and Africa - I'd say they still matter and then some.
            Do they still matter against technically superior foes, though? How many aircraft did the Coalition lose over Iraq to anti-aircraft artillery, and how many cruise missiles did the Iraqis manage to bring down?

            I know for a fact that my country's Tornados were hit by Yugoslavian anti-aircraft artillery only once during about 500 SEAD sorties. We lost a couple of slow-flying drones but no manned aircraft or launched weapons. As far as I'm aware of, no manned allied aircraft was ever lost to non-missile air defenses over Yugoslavia. Which is why I'm asking; if it wasn't for helicopters and nowadays indirect fire it would look like a wise move to discard conventional air defenses in favor of missiles.

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            • #7
              It matters in Best Korea.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by muck View Post
                ...

                I know for a fact that my country's Tornados were hit by Yugoslavian anti-aircraft artillery only once during about 500 SEAD sorties. We lost a couple of slow-flying drones but no manned aircraft or launched weapons. As far as I'm aware of, no manned allied aircraft was ever lost to non-missile air defenses over Yugoslavia. Which is why I'm asking; if it wasn't for helicopters and nowadays indirect fire it would look like a wise move to discard conventional air defenses in favor of missiles.
                Pretty sure one of the reasons why helicopters weren't sent into Kosovo/Serbia was because of the threat of AA. Let's face it, no-one these days has the old school 128mm AA guns that were used against Lancasters and B17s because it makes no sense - modern aircraft at altitude are too fast for it to be a serious threat. But low flying helicopters and CAS are still highly vulnerable to 35-40mm AA.
                Last edited by TheKiwi; 21-09-2016, 03:40 PM. Reason: weren't, not were

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by muck View Post
                  Do they still matter against technically superior foes, though? How many aircraft did the Coalition lose over Iraq to anti-aircraft artillery, and how many cruise missiles did the Iraqis manage to bring down?

                  I know for a fact that my country's Tornados were hit by Yugoslavian anti-aircraft artillery only once during about 500 SEAD sorties. We lost a couple of slow-flying drones but no manned aircraft or launched weapons. As far as I'm aware of, no manned allied aircraft was ever lost to non-missile air defenses over Yugoslavia. Which is why I'm asking; if it wasn't for helicopters and nowadays indirect fire it would look like a wise move to discard conventional air defenses in favor of missiles.
                  And what about helicopters and UAVs?
                  What about countermeasures and spoofing against missiles?

                  A short-burst from a 4-barrelled gun system is like a shotgun blast; nice spread, pretty sure something will get hit and no way of avoiding it.
                  You can also use it against ground targets, giving the system self-defense and fire support capabilities.

                  And no they're not going to be that effective against high-speed jets. That's what missiles are for.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by muck View Post
                    Do they still matter against technically superior foes, though? How many aircraft did the Coalition lose over Iraq to anti-aircraft artillery, and how many cruise missiles did the Iraqis manage to bring down?
                    Iraqi's and Arabs in general are horrible examples in almost any given scenario but there is one example that sticks in my brain and that was that battle that took place in Karbala in 2003 - 31 AH-64 Apaches were sent to destroy elements of the Medina division. While only 1 AH-64 was lost, 29 returned to base with significant damage and such an operation was never attempted again, tactics were changed as well.

                    One thing I mean to bring up - The horizontal range of these weapons would enable them to tear apart almost M113's with ease, likely the M2 - Bradley as well but of that I'm not so sure.

                    What I'm getting at is that these system have a wide range of purpose, especially in urban areas where weapon elevation is key. In this regard, I believe the Israeli's started the trend with M163's in Lebanon.


                    Originally posted by muck View Post
                    Do they still matter against technically superior foes, though? How many aircraft did the Coalition lose over Iraq to anti-aircraft artillery, and how many cruise missiles did the Iraqis manage to bring down?

                    I know for a fact that my country's Tornados were hit by Yugoslavian anti-aircraft artillery only once during about 500 SEAD sorties. We lost a couple of slow-flying drones but no manned aircraft or launched weapons. As far as I'm aware of, no manned allied aircraft was ever lost to non-missile air defenses over Yugoslavia. Which is why I'm asking; if it wasn't for helicopters and nowadays indirect fire it would look like a wise move to discard conventional air defenses in favor of missiles.
                    I think this was for two reasons:

                    1.) The weapons were not used and or grouped together in sufficient mass
                    2.) Vietnam - The United States adapted new tactics and technologies to deal with massed AAA fire due to their effectiveness over the skies of Vietnam. This was put into practice over Baghdad in 1991

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                    • #11
                      I see. Thanks for the input.
                      All this kinda fails to explain why many nations seem to have lost faith in anti-aircraft artillery, though. I mean, even the defense industry still considers it a thing.

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                      • #12
                        I'd suggest that not every nation has the budget of the USA or Russia/USSR. If you're not going to be able to afford to have two systems, have one that can be average against all threats rather than two, each good against a particular threat.

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                        • #13
                          Why is aaa not used on ships more? After all, cruise missiles and asms are their main threat.
                          AAA would be far longer range, be potentially faster and high explosive compared to a Phalanx kind of Ciws

                          I especially mean something like Rheinmetall Skyguard

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                          • #14
                            Because most modern missile threats move at Mach 3+ and carry 500kg+ of explosive. Intercepting them at the range that any reasonable AA gun could leaves it highly likely that remnants of the missile would have enough kinetic energy left to still strike and damage the target.

                            Added to that, modern ships tend to have a 3" or 5" gun which is capable of engaging incoming missiles. Anything smaller you might as well not bother with due to their lack of range. Carrying more guns would require space for the turret and it's magazine that could be better used for other mission parameters.

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                            • #15
                              i think it work well for drone?

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