Friday 03 Apr 2020 | 00:34 | SYDNEY
Friday 03 Apr 2020 | 00:34 | SYDNEY

Reader riposte: Stopping the rockets


Rodger Shanahan


15 January 2009 14:13

Chris Skinner writes in response to Sam's post of yesterday:

The difficulty in intercepting the short-range, unguided Katyusha missiles as described by Victoria Samson is appreciated. However this problem might be more amenable to the approach used for mortar attacks. Mortar detecting radar has been in use for many years to pinpoint the source of the mortar attack and for targeting counter-battery fire. It operates by detecting mortar projectiles while in flight and calculating the launch point from the trajectory

Mortar rounds are also unguided and follow a ballistic trajectory, so in principle they are similar to the rockets fired at Israel (but of shorter range). It should be possible for Israeli artillery to be targeted at the launching point of the rockets in a very short time, which would have the effect of instant retaliation that would be obviously brought on by the rocket firing just concluded. The proportionality of the response would be more apparent and would also be clearly associated with defence from attack.

The IDF already operates weapon locating radar (WLR) that can detect mortars, artillery and missiles. But the enemy knows that, and as a consequence, many rocket launches are done by timer, with the launch site in close proximity to civilian sites.

Artillery is an 'area weapon', so counter-battery fire directed from a WLR may well destroy the launch site but it will also take a few other things along with it that you never identified. Destroying a mortar base plate or an unmanned katyusha launch site is fine and may be proportionate and in self-defence, but if a destroyed house/school/infirmary/civilain vehicle adjacent to it appears on al-Jazeera that night, then you have just lost the information war.