khobar95
Topic Author
Posts: 18
Joined: Wed Jun 27, 2018 10:10 pm

What drones were used against Saudi Arabia?

Mon Sep 16, 2019 12:59 pm

Can someone please tell me what "drones" were used in the attack against Abqaiq and Khurais? Thanks.
 
 
khobar95
Topic Author
Posts: 18
Joined: Wed Jun 27, 2018 10:10 pm

Re: What drones were used against Saudi Arabia?

Mon Sep 16, 2019 3:15 pm

 
User avatar
smithbs
Posts: 313
Joined: Wed May 17, 2017 6:09 pm

Re: What drones were used against Saudi Arabia?

Tue Sep 17, 2019 1:47 am

More chatter here:

https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/2 ... facilities

It depends on what kind of range one thinks Quds-1 has and where it may have been launched.

Most attacks are designed to get maximum worldwide attention...and they got it this time.
 
WKTaylor
Posts: 62
Joined: Mon Jul 25, 2016 9:36 pm

Re: What drones were used against Saudi Arabia?

Thu Sep 19, 2019 3:03 pm

What is astonishing and maddening is that Saudi surveillance and air defenses appear to have been 'asleep at the wheel'.

I cannot understand why such a high value facility was not protected from 'drone strikes'. The Saudi Air Force and Army, with super-sophisticated surveillance radars/sensors and air-to-air and ground-to-air missiles didn't alert to the in-bound threat and neutralize 'it' far beyond 'strike' distance to the facility.

What appears specifically peculiar is 'reports' than there were no casualties.

IF this was a genuine fault in facility planning/security, and genuine 'holes' Air Defenses, then I suspect that facility and AD leadership will pay a steep price... in public. IF on-the-otherhand there is no 'swift/decisive/public/cruel punishment of the leaders, then we have to consider the following...

This lack of AD readiness/response prior to the strike was actually a deliberate 'pants-down invite' to the Rebels or Iranians... go-ahead 'take a swing'... we will recover quickly and bury You in the response with our US and UAE allies.
 
User avatar
flyingturtle
Posts: 5651
Joined: Mon Oct 31, 2011 1:39 pm

Re: What drones were used against Saudi Arabia?

Thu Sep 19, 2019 3:23 pm

WKTaylor wrote:
What appears specifically peculiar is 'reports' than there were no casualties.


This is not surprising, given that oil processing plants are highly automated. They need supervision, but from guys behind computer screens.

What I find amazing is how well-aimed the shots were. We're not talking about an error of 300 or 400 meters. Those missiles hit the tanks and equipment spot-on. Good ol' GPS and modern laser ring gyros?
Reading accident reports is what calms me down
 
WIederling
Posts: 8888
Joined: Sun Sep 13, 2015 2:15 pm

Re: What drones were used against Saudi Arabia?

Thu Sep 19, 2019 5:48 pm

flyingturtle wrote:
WKTaylor wrote:
What appears specifically peculiar is 'reports' than there were no casualties.


This is not surprising, given that oil processing plants are highly automated. They need supervision, but from guys behind computer screens.

What I find amazing is how well-aimed the shots were. We're not talking about an error of 300 or 400 meters. Those missiles hit the tanks and equipment spot-on. Good ol' GPS and modern laser ring gyros?


By hand applied shaped charges :-)

Starts to look like some exercise target shooting with no counter measures active.
Attributing this to Houthis or Iran now sounds questionable.
Shows capabilities I'd more associate with Israel and/or the US, then Russia or some EU military.
Murphy is an optimist
 
mham001
Posts: 5616
Joined: Thu Feb 03, 2005 4:52 am

Re: What drones were used against Saudi Arabia?

Thu Sep 19, 2019 9:13 pm

WIederling wrote:

Shows capabilities I'd more associate with Israel and/or the US, then Russia or some EU military.


..or Iran.

MISSILES AND DRONES: A CLOSE LOOK AT HOUTHIS’ NEW WEAPONS
Image
https://southfront.org/missiles-and-dro ... w-weapons/

The Saudis displayed several black delta wing drone carcasses with crushed noses that look just like the Houthi white delta wing drones in the top right corner below. What a coincident, huh?
Image
 
User avatar
smithbs
Posts: 313
Joined: Wed May 17, 2017 6:09 pm

Re: What drones were used against Saudi Arabia?

Thu Sep 19, 2019 10:35 pm

WKTaylor wrote:
What is astonishing and maddening is that Saudi surveillance and air defenses appear to have been 'asleep at the wheel'.

I cannot understand why such a high value facility was not protected from 'drone strikes'. The Saudi Air Force and Army, with super-sophisticated surveillance radars/sensors and air-to-air and ground-to-air missiles didn't alert to the in-bound threat and neutralize 'it' far beyond 'strike' distance to the facility.

What appears specifically peculiar is 'reports' than there were no casualties.

IF this was a genuine fault in facility planning/security, and genuine 'holes' Air Defenses, then I suspect that facility and AD leadership will pay a steep price... in public. IF on-the-otherhand there is no 'swift/decisive/public/cruel punishment of the leaders, then we have to consider the following...

This lack of AD readiness/response prior to the strike was actually a deliberate 'pants-down invite' to the Rebels or Iranians... go-ahead 'take a swing'... we will recover quickly and bury You in the response with our US and UAE allies.


In real life, AD systems are not perfect and this is a good demonstration of that. A crude example would be for you to step outside with a soda straw and look through it, and try to find an airliner within 10 seconds. It's about impossible, and defending a plant against cruise missiles would be like that. Now, pull out your phone and pull up Flightradar24 (or equivalent) and then search - now you've added intel and will probably succeed in finding an airliner fairly quickly, because you have intel to give you an idea of what to look for and where to look. It would appear the AD systems in SA were probably looking the wrong way, didn't know to look for these munitions, and didn't have intel warning.
 
WIederling
Posts: 8888
Joined: Sun Sep 13, 2015 2:15 pm

Re: What drones were used against Saudi Arabia?

Fri Sep 20, 2019 7:31 am

mham001 wrote:
WIederling wrote:

Shows capabilities I'd more associate with Israel and/or the US, then Russia or some EU military.


..or Iran.

MISSILES AND DRONES: A CLOSE LOOK AT HOUTHIS’ NEW WEAPONS
https://southfront.org/wp-content/uploa ... 68x476.jpg
https://southfront.org/missiles-and-dro ... w-weapons/

The Saudis displayed several black delta wing drone carcasses with crushed noses that look just like the Houthi white delta wing drones in the top right corner below. What a coincident, huh?
Image


perfect paintjob doesn't provide for "perfect" on target performance :-)

This one?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jwN_-O2 ... tu.be&t=54

talked up as a UAV, very limited warhead if at all ( and why is the nose only crushed if it carried the war head.)
Murphy is an optimist
 
mham001
Posts: 5616
Joined: Thu Feb 03, 2005 4:52 am

Re: What drones were used against Saudi Arabia?

Fri Sep 20, 2019 1:09 pm

WIederling wrote:

perfect paintjob doesn't provide for "perfect" on target performance :-)

This one?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jwN_-O2 ... tu.be&t=54

talked up as a UAV, very limited warhead if at all ( and why is the nose only crushed if it carried the war head.)


Ask yourself why all those tanks have perfect holes in them but still intact with no visible signs of fire.
 
WIederling
Posts: 8888
Joined: Sun Sep 13, 2015 2:15 pm

Re: What drones were used against Saudi Arabia?

Fri Sep 20, 2019 1:15 pm

mham001 wrote:
Ask yourself why all those tanks have perfect holes in them but still intact with no visible signs of fire.


The tanks are for separating out gas from oil, right?
Murphy is an optimist
 
mham001
Posts: 5616
Joined: Thu Feb 03, 2005 4:52 am

Re: What drones were used against Saudi Arabia?

Fri Sep 20, 2019 4:00 pm

WIederling wrote:
mham001 wrote:
Ask yourself why all those tanks have perfect holes in them but still intact with no visible signs of fire.


The tanks are for separating out gas from oil, right?


I don't know. Does an explosive warhead care?
 
WIederling
Posts: 8888
Joined: Sun Sep 13, 2015 2:15 pm

Re: What drones were used against Saudi Arabia?

Fri Sep 20, 2019 4:40 pm

mham001 wrote:
WIederling wrote:
mham001 wrote:
Ask yourself why all those tanks have perfect holes in them but still intact with no visible signs of fire.


The tanks are for separating out gas from oil, right?


I don't know. Does an explosive warhead care?


Yes, if you use explosives that are gas ignition proof ( for use in mining sites that have marsh gas.)
you could have some luck :-)

.
I don't think you'd find that in a war head though.
Murphy is an optimist
 
User avatar
Revelation
Posts: 21368
Joined: Wed Feb 09, 2005 9:37 pm

Re: What drones were used against Saudi Arabia?

Sat Sep 21, 2019 5:59 pm

WKTaylor wrote:
What is astonishing and maddening is that Saudi surveillance and air defenses appear to have been 'asleep at the wheel'.

I cannot understand why such a high value facility was not protected from 'drone strikes'. The Saudi Air Force and Army, with super-sophisticated surveillance radars/sensors and air-to-air and ground-to-air missiles didn't alert to the in-bound threat and neutralize 'it' far beyond 'strike' distance to the facility.

The whole idea of cruise missiles and drones is to be able to fly under radar.

You should read the 'Drive' link above.

Patriot et al were designed for air to ground or ICBM like trajectories.

There is next to no defense for this, especially if swarming attacks are employed.

Asymmetric warfare at its finest.

flyingturtle wrote:
What I find amazing is how well-aimed the shots were. We're not talking about an error of 300 or 400 meters. Those missiles hit the tanks and equipment spot-on. Good ol' GPS and modern laser ring gyros?

GPS precision is what, 3m?

The downside of the lightweight drones/missiles is they do well at attacking flammable targets, but not so well at big and relatively less flammable targets such as WTC.

My guess is a modern day terrorist drone or cruise missile attack would want to target one or many different oil tank farms near major international airports.

It would be a huge statement, and would also knock those airports largely out of service for long periods of time since alternate infrastructure just doesn't exist.

I suppose attacking WTC again would be a very symbolic thing, but with more risky logistics.

Tom Clancy, were are you when we need you most?
Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world
The heart has its beaches, its homeland and thoughts of its own
Wake now, discover that you are the song that the morning brings
The heart has its seasons, its evenings and songs of its own
 
WIederling
Posts: 8888
Joined: Sun Sep 13, 2015 2:15 pm

Re: What drones were used against Saudi Arabia?

Sun Sep 22, 2019 10:12 am

Revelation wrote:
There is next to no defense for this, especially if swarming attacks are employed.


That is what aerial surveillance is for. "looking down".
Moving targets should be visible to any capable AWACS platform.

countering drones is probably better done by things like Iron Dome
with initial targeting via AWACS.
Murphy is an optimist
 
YIMBY
Posts: 629
Joined: Tue Sep 20, 2016 4:32 pm

Re: What drones were used against Saudi Arabia?

Sun Sep 22, 2019 2:14 pm

Revelation wrote:
WKTaylor wrote:
What is astonishing and maddening is that Saudi surveillance and air defenses appear to have been 'asleep at the wheel'.

I cannot understand why such a high value facility was not protected from 'drone strikes'. The Saudi Air Force and Army, with super-sophisticated surveillance radars/sensors and air-to-air and ground-to-air missiles didn't alert to the in-bound threat and neutralize 'it' far beyond 'strike' distance to the facility.

The whole idea of cruise missiles and drones is to be able to fly under radar.



There are so many methods to detect and locate low-flying noisy objects that it is completely undefendable if they did not have any warning or even posterior information where did those missiles come from. It is even so unbelievable that I suspect that they know the trajectories but refuse to publish all the information as it is something less comfortable than their favourite enemy.
 
User avatar
Revelation
Posts: 21368
Joined: Wed Feb 09, 2005 9:37 pm

Re: What drones were used against Saudi Arabia?

Sun Sep 22, 2019 2:31 pm

WIederling wrote:
Revelation wrote:
There is next to no defense for this, especially if swarming attacks are employed.


That is what aerial surveillance is for. "looking down".
Moving targets should be visible to any capable AWACS platform.

countering drones is probably better done by things like Iron Dome
with initial targeting via AWACS.

When I said there is next to no defense, I meant:
    a) the assets needed to do this on the scale needed to be effective do not exist in SA
    b) even if assets were focused, the odds of them dealing with a swarm attack are low.

The various 'Drive' articles suggest the better asset would be Global Hawk with RTIP radar rather than AWACS because they are as good or better in terms of resolution and offer greater loiter times. I would agree something like Iron Dome is more appropriate than Patriot et al but SA is not going to be having Iron Dome any time soon, Israel won't be taking their cash.
Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world
The heart has its beaches, its homeland and thoughts of its own
Wake now, discover that you are the song that the morning brings
The heart has its seasons, its evenings and songs of its own
 
mxaxai
Posts: 1152
Joined: Sat Jun 18, 2016 7:29 am

Re: What drones were used against Saudi Arabia?

Sun Sep 22, 2019 2:51 pm

Revelation wrote:
The downside of the lightweight drones/missiles is they do well at attacking flammable targets, but not so well at big and relatively less flammable targets such as WTC.

My guess is a modern day terrorist drone or cruise missile attack would want to target one or many different oil tank farms near major international airports.

It would be a huge statement, and would also knock those airports largely out of service for long periods of time since alternate infrastructure just doesn't exist.

I suppose attacking WTC again would be a very symbolic thing, but with more risky logistics.

I don't think any militia or terorrist group has access to drones with the range to reach US targets from abroad (Canada and Mexico excluded). So your hypothetical attacks would need to come from US soil, where your national security agencies should be able to track any would-be users of explosives.

That said, calling the tools of this attack "drones" is a bit far-fetched. They're basically cruise missiles. I wasn't aware that Saudi Arabia, and the Patriot system in particular, is defenseless against cruise missiles.
 
User avatar
Revelation
Posts: 21368
Joined: Wed Feb 09, 2005 9:37 pm

Re: What drones were used against Saudi Arabia?

Sun Sep 22, 2019 3:19 pm

mxaxai wrote:
I don't think any militia or terorrist group has access to drones with the range to reach US targets from abroad (Canada and Mexico excluded). So your hypothetical attacks would need to come from US soil, where your national security agencies should be able to track any would-be users of explosives.

That said, calling the tools of this attack "drones" is a bit far-fetched. They're basically cruise missiles. I wasn't aware that Saudi Arabia, and the Patriot system in particular, is defenseless against cruise missiles.

Patriot ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MIM-104_Patriot ) is a medium to high altitude system, doesn't have the rate of fire nor enough missiles in a given battery to defeat a swarm attack. The fact that Israel had to invent Iron Dome tells you all you need to know about Patriot's effectiveness.

As for an attack from US soil, I think your faith in US agencies is misplaced. The amount of stuff needed to launch such an attack would fit in one shipping container or less. One or two well placed bribes could make it all happen. It'd be even easier to attack an EU target since ground transport could be used from source to destination.
Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world
The heart has its beaches, its homeland and thoughts of its own
Wake now, discover that you are the song that the morning brings
The heart has its seasons, its evenings and songs of its own
 
Spar
Posts: 487
Joined: Mon Apr 01, 2019 7:37 pm

Re: What drones were used against Saudi Arabia?

Mon Sep 23, 2019 12:05 am

Radar works by line of sight, so if a cruise missile flies at 100 feet off the ground (which is possible over the desert), then it is undetectable by a radar located at ground level until it is within 10 or so miles away, (also, cruise missiles are stealthy by nature). That gives less than ten minutes warning time before impact. Awacs could spot them sooner, but AWACS aren't always where you want them at any given time. Usually they're parked on a tarmac.

The USN has decided that the best way to defend against cruise missiles is to have a fully automatic radar guided cannon to take them out within their last mile.

Phalanx
Image

Footsoldiers equipped with Stingers camped out in the desert around the target being defended might work too.
HAWK sites might have trouble spotting something so small and stealthy.
Patriots are optimized for ballistic missiles.

It'll be interesting to see how the troops Trump just sent over there are equipped.
 
texl1649
Posts: 1056
Joined: Thu Aug 02, 2007 5:38 am

Re: What drones were used against Saudi Arabia?

Mon Sep 23, 2019 3:46 pm

The US CBP (border patrol) folks have gotten good use out of the tethered aerostat radar systems as well. Sure, it’s not ‘tuned’ for cruise missile detection but certainly for a facility such as this a similar/variant could be used if needed.

Certainly, the Iranians/Houthi folks aren’t on the cusp of hypersonic weapons, but that is the future threat to ponder (though obviously the Chinese don’t want to support such attacks on their oil suppliers).
 
User avatar
bikerthai
Posts: 2963
Joined: Wed Apr 28, 2010 1:45 pm

Re: What drones were used against Saudi Arabia?

Mon Sep 23, 2019 6:53 pm

texl1649 wrote:
The US CBP (border patrol) folks have gotten good use out of the tethered aerostat radar systems as well. Sure, it’s not ‘tuned’ for cruise missile detection but certainly for a facility such as this a similar/variant could be used if needed.

Certainly, the Iranians/Houthi folks aren’t on the cusp of hypersonic weapons, but that is the future threat to ponder (though obviously the Chinese don’t want to support such attacks on their oil suppliers).


Awesome idea. Place a phase array radar on a tethered air ship with anti drone high powered laser/mini-gun combo. Power is provided by ground generator for the radar.

It is my understanding that the E-7 radar have look down cruise missile detection capability, not sure how large a target it can detect, but supposedly, it can then send a high powered radar beam to the target to potentially fry the electronics. Maybe it's time the Saudi buy some E-7 to supplement their AWACS. Seems like they are marching down the path of war, later if not sooner.

bt
Intelligent seeks knowledge. Enlightened seeks wisdom.
 
WKTaylor
Posts: 62
Joined: Mon Jul 25, 2016 9:36 pm

Re: What drones were used against Saudi Arabia?

Tue Sep 24, 2019 4:08 pm

A few articles from relatively creditable news and Defense sources are now emerging on this subject..

Did U.S. Missile Defenses Fail During Saudi Oil Attack?
https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/ ... tack-81171

How drone attacks reveal fixable flaws with American air defenses
https://thehill.com/opinion/national-se ... r-defenses

Attacks Expose Flaws in Saudi Arabia’s Expensive Military
https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/at ... li=BBnbcA1

For Saudi Arabia an Oil Field Attack was a Disaster. For Russia it's a Weapons Sales Pitch
https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/20 ... les-pitch/
 
DigitalSea
Posts: 140
Joined: Sun Sep 08, 2013 6:28 pm

Re: What drones were used against Saudi Arabia?

Tue Sep 24, 2019 8:08 pm

Air Force Set To Deploy Its Counter-Drone "Phaser" Microwave Weapon Overseas

The U.S. Air Force says it will deploy a prototype of Raytheon's Phaser high-power microwave counter-drone system for an operational evaluation within months. The service has been experimenting with a number of anti-drone directed energy weapons, which also include lasers, in recent years as the threat of small unmanned aircraft has grown. A Raytheon representative has said that a recent mass drone attack that caused significant damage to oil infrastructure in Saudi Arabia has highlighted these concerns "to the nth degree."

The Pentagon announced the deal, worth almost $16.3 million, in its daily contracting announcements on Sept. 23, 2019. The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is managing the program, which it says will include a year-long evaluation of Phaser at an unspecified location "OCONUS," or "outside the continental United States." Work under the contract is set to wrap up on Dec. 20, 2020, meaning that this field test is set to start in January at the very latest. AFRL has previously tested Phaser at the U.S. Army's White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.

"Experimentation includes, but is not limited to 12 months of in-field operation by Air Force personnel against unmanned aerial systems threats," the contracting notice explains. "In addition, experimentation includes but is not limited to operator training, in theater maintenance of systems while collecting availability (full mission capable, partial mission capable, non-mission capable), reliability, maintainability and supportability data, and system operation against real-world or simulated hostile vignettes without disrupting other necessary installation operations."

Phaser in its current form is a containerized high-power microwave directed energy weapon. Raytheon says one of its goals is to eventually be able to scale down the system into more portable, flexible forms.

Radars or electro-optical and infrared cameras help cue the system to its targets. It then projects a beam of microwave energy that aims to disrupt a drone's internal systems, causing it to fall out of the sky or possibly initiate a pre-programmed emergency procedure where it tries to lands or return to a point of origin.

Phaser has the ability to switch from "disrupt" to "destroy" mode, in which it can send a burst of microwave energy sufficiently powerful enough high to fry electronic components inside an unmanned aircraft. The exact effect could be dependant on the system's range to the target and level of component hardening within the drone.

Depending on the effective range of the system, it could potentially destroy various electronics on other aerial threats, including manned aircraft, helicopters, and missiles. Depending on how Phaser's turret is configured, it is possible that this beam could be aimed at targets on the ground, as well. The U.S. military has already been investigating the potential uses for high-power microwave weapons in ground roles, especially for force protection purposes, such as stopping threatening vehicles before they reach a base.

It isn't exactly clear how wide an effective microwave beam the Phaser can fire, but it is known to have been designed to counter groups of drones simultaneously, giving it real anti-swarm potential. It's unlimited magazine also would help in repulsing sustained attacks from multiple groups of drones.


https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/29992/air-force-set-to-field-test-its-counter-drone-phaser-microwave-weapon-overseas-in-2020
 
Spar
Posts: 487
Joined: Mon Apr 01, 2019 7:37 pm

Re: What drones were used against Saudi Arabia?

Wed Sep 25, 2019 7:30 am

WKTaylor wrote:
A few articles from relatively creditable news and Defense sources are now emerging on this subject..

Did U.S. Missile Defenses Fail During Saudi Oil Attack?
https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/ ... tack-81171

How drone attacks reveal fixable flaws with American air defenses
https://thehill.com/opinion/national-se ... r-defenses

Attacks Expose Flaws in Saudi Arabia’s Expensive Military
https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/at ... li=BBnbcA1

For Saudi Arabia an Oil Field Attack was a Disaster. For Russia it's a Weapons Sales Pitch
https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/20 ... les-pitch/

Surprisingly, the article by The Hill was by far the most informative.
The "National Interest" piece was worthless; it said: "The Aramco sites are around 800 miles from the Saudi Arabia-Yemen border" when in fact the Khurais site is 502 miles from the closest point of the Yemeni border; you would think they could get that much right. But they were bending over backwards to pin blame on Iran of course. In fact, the Iranian Quds 1 has a range of over 800 miles so it's a moot point anyway.

The Hill said "The attack on Abqaiq was the work of 18 drones, according to Saudi Arabia, all of which struck their targets with surprising precision. The attack on Khurais employed seven cruise missiles" which makes very interesting reading. If we take that literally, that means that it was a coordinated attack from two different locations using two different types of vehicles: drones and cruise missiles. From what I've read, that makes sense. The picture of the four tanks with a single hole in each one of them certainly didn't come from cruise missiles, the placement of those holes looks to be too precision for GPS guided targeting. That looks more like the work of a helicopter firing a 20mm cannon: but it couldn't have been that - could it? Whatever it was, it looks like a failed mission, it looks as if those tanks were empty when they were hit and so failed to become engulfed in flame. Another possibility is photoshop of course.

The problem of defending against cruise missiles and drones has been all but ignored by the USAF and US Army; the Navy has developed good systems for their ships but those aren't very well suited for defending land targets. The Patriot is useless against these kinds of a threat, and it occurs to me that if the Saudi's were to deploy Patriots in the desert to intercept drones and cruise missiles, it would be a clever idea for the other side to send hoards of cheap placebo missiles for the Saudi to shoot their very expensive Patriots missiles at.

I was more than a bit off in my earlier post when I said that a ground level radar would only be able to spot an incoming cruise missile 10 minutes before impact, actually it would be less than two minutes before impact. That means that the demands on the people manning the defensive missiles would be extreme, they would have to constantly be at their consoles and if their anti-missile missiles had gyros, they would have to be constantly spun up. All in all, that sounds unworkable.

What is needed are radars mounted on tall towers located 360 degrees around whatever is being defended, and the line of sight problem remains so their would have to be quite a few of them because even on towers they still have range limitations. If the radars are on 100 foot towers and the missiles are flying 100 feet off the ground that would mean that the missiles would first be detected at about 28 miles; so the defenders still have less than five minutes to lock on and fire at a missile that's moving at around Mach 8. If it's slower there's a little more time, but still..........

Next come the problem of what do you shoot at it? I can't think of anything in the US weapons inventory that would lend itself to such a task. Radar directed AA guns seem to be the best choice here. Directed energy weapons will be short range, so there would be a need for a lot of them if refinery complexes or oil fields are to be protected. AA guns sound more cost effective.

How does the Air Force defend their air bases against cruise missiles, or do they even try?
 
texl1649
Posts: 1056
Joined: Thu Aug 02, 2007 5:38 am

Re: What drones were used against Saudi Arabia?

Wed Sep 25, 2019 11:00 am

The AFRL is working on directed energy and kinetic systems for both CONUS defense and air bases. I anticipate some rushed ‘fieldable prototypes” within the next couple of years. Again though huge towers shouldn’t really be necessary for a radar surveillance here when a fancy tethered blimp can go up a few hundred feet and be quite stable/reliable.

https://insidedefense.com/insider/air-f ... experiment
 
User avatar
bikerthai
Posts: 2963
Joined: Wed Apr 28, 2010 1:45 pm

Re: What drones were used against Saudi Arabia?

Wed Sep 25, 2019 1:29 pm

Spar wrote:
The picture of the four tanks with a single hole in each one of them certainly didn't come from cruise missiles,


"Single hole" sounds like shaped charge. Could be from a long range anti-tank missile or just an RPG round mounted onto a drone :scratchchin: .

bt
Intelligent seeks knowledge. Enlightened seeks wisdom.
 
mxaxai
Posts: 1152
Joined: Sat Jun 18, 2016 7:29 am

Re: What drones were used against Saudi Arabia?

Wed Sep 25, 2019 2:52 pm

bikerthai wrote:
Spar wrote:
The picture of the four tanks with a single hole in each one of them certainly didn't come from cruise missiles,


"Single hole" sounds like shaped charge. Could be from a long range anti-tank missile or just an RPG round mounted onto a drone :scratchchin: .

bt

Or a malfunctioning warhead on a sufficently slim (cruise) missile.
 
User avatar
bikerthai
Posts: 2963
Joined: Wed Apr 28, 2010 1:45 pm

Re: What drones were used against Saudi Arabia?

Wed Sep 25, 2019 3:43 pm

4 of 4 malfunction? Any link to photos? How clean/large we're the hole?

bt
Intelligent seeks knowledge. Enlightened seeks wisdom.
 
Spar
Posts: 487
Joined: Mon Apr 01, 2019 7:37 pm

Re: What drones were used against Saudi Arabia?

Wed Sep 25, 2019 3:50 pm

bikerthai wrote:
"Single hole" sounds like shaped charge. Could be from a long range anti-tank missile or just an RPG round mounted onto a drone
The fact that they have convex shape makes it look like they are pressure vessels; but still, these are different kinds of "tanks". A shaped charge wouldn't likely be used to attack these kinds of tanks. I would expect an incendiary round would be the munition of choice.

mxaxai wrote:
Or a malfunctioning warhead on a sufficently slim (cruise) missile.
Four of them? Anorexic cruise missiles?
 
Planeflyer
Posts: 1428
Joined: Fri Mar 14, 2014 3:49 am

Re: What drones were used against Saudi Arabia?

Wed Sep 25, 2019 5:36 pm

Spar wrote:
WKTaylor wrote:
A few articles from relatively creditable news and Defense sources are now emerging on this subject..

Did U.S. Missile Defenses Fail During Saudi Oil Attack?
https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/ ... tack-81171

How drone attacks reveal fixable flaws with American air defenses
https://thehill.com/opinion/national-se ... r-defenses

Attacks Expose Flaws in Saudi Arabia’s Expensive Military
https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/at ... li=BBnbcA1

For Saudi Arabia an Oil Field Attack was a Disaster. For Russia it's a Weapons Sales Pitch
https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/20 ... les-pitch/

Surprisingly, the article by The Hill was by far the most informative.
The "National Interest" piece was worthless; it said: "The Aramco sites are around 800 miles from the Saudi Arabia-Yemen border" when in fact the Khurais site is 502 miles from the closest point of the Yemeni border; you would think they could get that much right. But they were bending over backwards to pin blame on Iran of course. In fact, the Iranian Quds 1 has a range of over 800 miles so it's a moot point anyway.

The Hill said "The attack on Abqaiq was the work of 18 drones, according to Saudi Arabia, all of which struck their targets with surprising precision. The attack on Khurais employed seven cruise missiles" which makes very interesting reading. If we take that literally, that means that it was a coordinated attack from two different locations using two different types of vehicles: drones and cruise missiles. From what I've read, that makes sense. The picture of the four tanks with a single hole in each one of them certainly didn't come from cruise missiles, the placement of those holes looks to be too precision for GPS guided targeting. That looks more like the work of a helicopter firing a 20mm cannon: but it couldn't have been that - could it? Whatever it was, it looks like a failed mission, it looks as if those tanks were empty when they were hit and so failed to become engulfed in flame. Another possibility is photoshop of course.

The problem of defending against cruise missiles and drones has been all but ignored by the USAF and US Army; the Navy has developed good systems for their ships but those aren't very well suited for defending land targets. The Patriot is useless against these kinds of a threat, and it occurs to me that if the Saudi's were to deploy Patriots in the desert to intercept drones and cruise missiles, it would be a clever idea for the other side to send hoards of cheap placebo missiles for the Saudi to shoot their very expensive Patriots missiles at.

I was more than a bit off in my earlier post when I said that a ground level radar would only be able to spot an incoming cruise missile 10 minutes before impact, actually it would be less than two minutes before impact. That means that the demands on the people manning the defensive missiles would be extreme, they would have to constantly be at their consoles and if their anti-missile missiles had gyros, they would have to be constantly spun up. All in all, that sounds unworkable.

What is needed are radars mounted on tall towers located 360 degrees around whatever is being defended, and the line of sight problem remains so their would have to be quite a few of them because even on towers they still have range limitations. If the radars are on 100 foot towers and the missiles are flying 100 feet off the ground that would mean that the missiles would first be detected at about 28 miles; so the defenders still have less than five minutes to lock on and fire at a missile that's moving at around Mach 8. If it's slower there's a little more time, but still..........

Next come the problem of what do you shoot at it? I can't think of anything in the US weapons inventory that would lend itself to such a task. Radar directed AA guns seem to be the best choice here. Directed energy weapons will be short range, so there would be a need for a lot of them if refinery complexes or oil fields are to be protected. AA guns sound more cost effective.

How does the Air Force defend their air bases against cruise missiles, or do they even try?


Really good post!

Swarms of small drones are as disruptive today as the machine gun was in WW1.
 
User avatar
bikerthai
Posts: 2963
Joined: Wed Apr 28, 2010 1:45 pm

Re: What drones were used against Saudi Arabia?

Wed Sep 25, 2019 6:16 pm

Spar wrote:
A shaped charge wouldn't likely be used to attack these kinds of tanks.


What are the typical thickness of the tank walls. I would assume these are run of the mill rolled steel plates. Unless they are doubled wall, or incredibly thick, they would be susceptible to shaped charges.

bt
Intelligent seeks knowledge. Enlightened seeks wisdom.
 
mham001
Posts: 5616
Joined: Thu Feb 03, 2005 4:52 am

Re: What drones were used against Saudi Arabia?

Wed Sep 25, 2019 6:36 pm

or kamikaze drones. Notice the delta wing drones shown by the Saudis had their wings clipped in similar places.
 
memphiX
Posts: 49
Joined: Wed Dec 02, 2015 2:46 pm

Re: What drones were used against Saudi Arabia?

Wed Sep 25, 2019 6:49 pm

bikerthai wrote:
4 of 4 malfunction? Any link to photos? How clean/large we're the hole?

bt


Image
https://www.wiscnews.com/news/world/jou ... 063ee.html
 
shamrock15
Posts: 11
Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2007 11:14 am

Re: What drones were used against Saudi Arabia?

Wed Sep 25, 2019 8:40 pm

This does not necessarily show a failure of the warhead. Remember that tankers that were hit with Exocet missiles that detonated did not start to burn or explode as Hollywood suggests. The oil itself absorbed the energy of the explosion. You can see blast effect in that last image.
 
shamrock15
Posts: 11
Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2007 11:14 am

Re: What drones were used against Saudi Arabia?

Wed Sep 25, 2019 8:43 pm

 
Spar
Posts: 487
Joined: Mon Apr 01, 2019 7:37 pm

Re: What drones were used against Saudi Arabia?

Thu Sep 26, 2019 4:30 am

bikerthai wrote:
Spar wrote:
A shaped charge wouldn't likely be used to attack these kinds of tanks.


What are the typical thickness of the tank walls. I would assume these are run of the mill rolled steel plates. Unless they are doubled wall, or incredibly thick, they would be susceptible to shaped charges.

bt
We seem to be looking at this from opposite points of view. Shaped charges are called for if one wants to punch through thick armor such as in a main battle tank., if all you need to do is punch a hole in a refinery pressure vessel, most any ballistic device would do the job and I would think that the attackers would chose something with an incendiary component to it. Shaped charge rounds are cumbersome and dangerous to have around. Nobody would use them unless they were called for.

Maybe the confusion is coming from the fact that in Desert Storm, Iraqi battle tanks were seen with smallish clean looking holes in them, which had done a menacing job inside the tanks; these holes could be seen to resemble the clean round holes in the four oil vessels at Abqaiq–Khurais. But this would be an apples / oranges comparison. The clean round holes in the Iraqi battle tanks were made by Depleted uranium kinetic energy rounds, not shaped charges. Shaped charges do a lot of damage on the outside of whatever they punch through.

The holes in the round/ convex oil containers (referred to as "oil separators") also look to have been made by ballistic rounds, but certainly not by DU. A copper jacketed AK47 round would probably have penetrated those vessels. And as I stated above, those holes were clearly not made by cruise missiles which have high explosive warheads containing at least 100 pounds of explosive. A cruse missile warhead would have blown those tanks to smithereens.

It certainly is peculiar how all four of those tanks received identical punctures in nearly identical locations. I know what it wasn't (DU, shaped charge, cruise missile warhead), but I don't know what it was.

To answer your question: I assume that those tanks were made out of high quality steel (they were obviously pressurized while in use) certainly less than one inch in thickness (those tanks were different from the sheet metal piece shown in the foreground of memphiX's picture).
 
User avatar
bikerthai
Posts: 2963
Joined: Wed Apr 28, 2010 1:45 pm

Re: What drones were used against Saudi Arabia?

Thu Sep 26, 2019 12:16 pm

The reason shape charge should be considered is that it does not require great velocity to have an impact. An RPG round can be easily caried by a reasonable size drone. Heck didn't they mount mortar rounds on small drones in Iraq? The shape charge would have the same impact as an incindary round once the molten metal penetrate the hull.

bt
Intelligent seeks knowledge. Enlightened seeks wisdom.
 
YIMBY
Posts: 629
Joined: Tue Sep 20, 2016 4:32 pm

Re: What drones were used against Saudi Arabia?

Thu Sep 26, 2019 5:33 pm

mham001 wrote:
or kamikaze drones. Notice the delta wing drones shown by the Saudis had their wings clipped in similar places.


What is the (formal) difference between a (kamikaze) drone and a (mini) cruise missile?
 
User avatar
bikerthai
Posts: 2963
Joined: Wed Apr 28, 2010 1:45 pm

Re: What drones were used against Saudi Arabia?

Thu Sep 26, 2019 5:44 pm

Thanks memphix. That particular photos doesn't lead me to believe it to be a shaped charge.

bt
Intelligent seeks knowledge. Enlightened seeks wisdom.
 
WIederling
Posts: 8888
Joined: Sun Sep 13, 2015 2:15 pm

Re: What drones were used against Saudi Arabia?

Thu Sep 26, 2019 9:33 pm

bikerthai wrote:
The reason shape charge should be considered is that it does not require great velocity to have an impact. An RPG round can be easily caried by a reasonable size drone. Heck didn't they mount mortar rounds on small drones in Iraq? The shape charge would have the same impact as an incindary round once the molten metal penetrate the hull.

bt

shaped charge makes a completely different hole:
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=P ... -uEot0uBpl

This looks like bulk explosive. impacted material is deformed until its strength is overwhelmed.
it brakes and the surfaces peel back away from the charge.
Murphy is an optimist
 
Ozair
Posts: 4264
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2005 8:38 am

Re: What drones were used against Saudi Arabia?

Fri Sep 27, 2019 1:39 am

An interesting long article from DefenseNews about the Saudi drone/missile attacks and worth a read.

For me the solution to these types of events really sits with Directed Energy Weapons, which would allow a very low cost per shot, a high accuracy and likelihood of impacting damage against drone targets, as well as being able to be poised for near instant operation with optical sensors. Several positioned around strategic locations should enable sufficient counter-drone protection.

Are air defense systems ready to confront drone swarms?

The attack on Saudi Arabia’s Abqaiq and Khurais oil facilities on Sept. 14 served as a reality check for countries struggling to define the level of the threat posed by drone swarms and low-altitude cruise missiles.

Now, in a region where that threat is particularly acute, countries are left to reexamine existing air defense technology.

...

He said the primary challenge in stopping an attack like that in Saudi Arabia is not the ability to shoot down the threats, but rather to detect the low-flying threats. “When it comes to missiles, missile defense sensors will aim above the horizon because the missile is above it and you don’t want clutter. So when it comes to guarding, the issue is things that can sneak in near the ground,” he explained.

...

One way to confront drone swarms involves soft-kill measures. Because drones are operated by GPS and radio control, jamming or taking control of the drone is one route.

But Rubin said what stands out about the Abqaiq incident is that the homing by the drones appeared to be optical, not GPS-guided.

Also noteworthy, evidence indicates that some of the UAVs weren’t carrying warheads, as they didn’t all explode.

Alternatively, a hard-kill approach might involve using a 5- to 10-kilowatt laser. Lasers can destroy drones up to 2.5 kilometers away, according to Yungman.

The U.S. has looked at lasers for its Stryker armored vehicles, and Germany, Russia and Turkey are among the nation-states developing the technology. Israel’s Rafael has been working on laser interceptors for years, including the Drone Dome laser-based intercept system.

“I can say that from 2 kilometers I could hit a drone the size of a penny,” Yungman claimed.

...

https://www.defensenews.com/global/mide ... ne-swarms/
 
Spar
Posts: 487
Joined: Mon Apr 01, 2019 7:37 pm

Re: What drones were used against Saudi Arabia?

Fri Sep 27, 2019 3:34 am

Ozair wrote:
An interesting long article from DefenseNews about the Saudi drone/missile attacks and worth a read.

For me the solution to these types of events really sits with Directed Energy Weapons, which would allow a very low cost per shot, a high accuracy and likelihood of impacting damage against drone targets, as well as being able to be poised for near instant operation with optical sensors. Several positioned around strategic locations should enable sufficient counter-drone protection.


One way to confront drone swarms involves soft-kill measures. Because drones are operated by GPS and radio control, jamming or taking control of the drone is one route.

But Rubin said what stands out about the Abqaiq incident is that the homing by the drones appeared to be optical, not GPS-guided.

Also noteworthy, evidence indicates that some of the UAVs weren’t carrying warheads, as they didn’t all explode.

Alternatively, a hard-kill approach might involve using a 5- to 10-kilowatt laser. Lasers can destroy drones up to 2.5 kilometers away, according to Yungman.

The U.S. has looked at lasers for its Stryker armored vehicles, and Germany, Russia and Turkey are among the nation-states developing the technology. Israel’s Rafael has been working on laser interceptors for years, including the Drone Dome laser-based intercept system.

“I can say that from 2 kilometers I could hit a drone the size of a penny,” Yungman claimed.

...

https://www.defensenews.com/global/mide ... ne-swarms/[/quote]

Great post. this adds a lot to the understanding of what happened on September 14 th.
The defense News article gave us a lot more detail. I'm taken back by the idea that they used optical navigation, that is game changing. That explains the precision placement of the weapons into those four tanks. The article also said that some of the missiles didn't carry warheads; to me that implies that they were using ballistic energy for the warhead: that's what the holes in those tanks appear to be from. That's impressive. Maybe this strike was a technology demonstrator.

The Saudis had two completely inappropriate missile defense systems, the Patriot and the somewhat dated French system; they also had some radar guided Oerlikon 35 mm twin cannon units, but those never got off a shot. The Oerlikons put out 9 rounds a second and can reach out over two miles, they could certainly splatter the penny sized drone that the Israeli general talked about.

I followed up on the information provided by Defense news and I went back and looked at the Abqaiq–Khurais refinery which took the hits to the four tanks and also another hit that started a large fire at the eastern most part of the complex. That refinery had pads for six defensive positions: presumably for the Oerlikons. However, it looks like only one of the pads had the defensive cannons deployed. The pads are 300 meters square and are about 4,000 meters apart around the perimeter of the complex. If you want to see them you can use Google Earth, the North Easterly pad is located at 25°56'59.72"N 49°42'37.69"E, from there you can easily find the other five pads by searching at about 4,000 meters around the perimeter).

So the cheapskate Saudi's had left most of their pre-determined defense positions empty har har!

Those pads could be populated by Directed energy weapons just as well, if there are such things available for delivery. Their biggest advantage would be the fact that they won't pepper friendly locations downrange with shrapnel. The Oerlikons would have done the job if they were positioned and manned - if and only if - they had some kind of an early warning system such as what I described above, towers or blimps as has been suggested. Otherwise it would be unmanageable to keep those cannons manned and ready to fire as soon as a target popped into view. This limitation may be the reason the saudi's didn't bother to populate the remaining pads. It looks like they only placed one gun, and that was probably for show.

Interestingly enough, this complex at Abqaiq–Khurais is a good approximation for the defense needs of a large airbase; it's 17 mile or so perimeter is about what an airbase would need defended.
 
User avatar
bikerthai
Posts: 2963
Joined: Wed Apr 28, 2010 1:45 pm

Re: What drones were used against Saudi Arabia?

Fri Sep 27, 2019 1:11 pm

https://www.defensenews.com/industry/te ... er-weapon/

https://www.c4isrnet.com/unmanned/uas/2 ... rget-uavs/


These system would be good against drones. But not sure if they will work against cruise missiles.
Wonder how far along the development path have they gone.

bt
Intelligent seeks knowledge. Enlightened seeks wisdom.
 
User avatar
smithbs
Posts: 313
Joined: Wed May 17, 2017 6:09 pm

Re: What drones were used against Saudi Arabia?

Fri Sep 27, 2019 1:40 pm

It seemed obvious to me that the hits on the spheroids were optically guided. Optical guidance requires a high-bandwidth radio channel back to the guidance personnel, and those are not long-range systems - especially if one does not have the luxury of a high-flying datalink pod, which I doubt was the case here. Often they are line-of-sight datalinks as well. So I've been waiting to hear how that worked, and how close the guidance personnel were to the refinery.
 
Spar
Posts: 487
Joined: Mon Apr 01, 2019 7:37 pm

Re: What drones were used against Saudi Arabia?

Fri Sep 27, 2019 2:02 pm

smithbs wrote:
Optical guidance requires a high-bandwidth radio channel back to the guidance personnel.

I doubt that there was anyone with a joystick nearby. My assumption is that the terminal navigation system used something similar to facial recognition software as used in cell phones.
 
User avatar
bikerthai
Posts: 2963
Joined: Wed Apr 28, 2010 1:45 pm

Re: What drones were used against Saudi Arabia?

Fri Sep 27, 2019 3:26 pm

How easy would it be to use a 4G phone as a datalink to control the drone remotely? Is that refinery in an area with 4G connection?

bt
Intelligent seeks knowledge. Enlightened seeks wisdom.
 
RetiredWeasel
Posts: 722
Joined: Sat Jul 05, 2014 8:16 pm

Re: What drones were used against Saudi Arabia?

Fri Sep 27, 2019 3:27 pm

Spar wrote:
smithbs wrote:
Optical guidance requires a high-bandwidth radio channel back to the guidance personnel.

I doubt that there was anyone with a joystick nearby. My assumption is that the terminal navigation system used something similar to facial recognition software as used in cell phones.


Why would you assume any more sophistication that simple GPS? I can program my Mavic Pro to climb to 400', four miles away, and then proceed to impact my head (within a meter) standing on the ground. All it takes is accurate coordinates and elevation.
 
Spar
Posts: 487
Joined: Mon Apr 01, 2019 7:37 pm

Re: What drones were used against Saudi Arabia?

Fri Sep 27, 2019 3:45 pm

RetiredWeasel wrote:
Why would you assume any more sophistication that simple GPS? I can program my Mavic Pro to climb to 400', four miles away, and then proceed to impact my head (within a meter) standing on the ground. All it takes is accurate coordinates and elevation.


I got that from the Defense News link that Ozair posted. (Uzi) Rubin said what stands out about the Abqaiq incident is that the homing by the drones appeared to be optical, not GPS-guided.

Optical could be either joystick controlled or target recognition software, but I suspect target recognition software.

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 36 guests

Popular Searches On Airliners.net

Top Photos of Last:   24 Hours  •  48 Hours  •  7 Days  •  30 Days  •  180 Days  •  365 Days  •  All Time

Military Aircraft Every type from fighters to helicopters from air forces around the globe

Classic Airliners Props and jets from the good old days

Flight Decks Views from inside the cockpit

Aircraft Cabins Passenger cabin shots showing seat arrangements as well as cargo aircraft interior

Cargo Aircraft Pictures of great freighter aircraft

Government Aircraft Aircraft flying government officials

Helicopters Our large helicopter section. Both military and civil versions

Blimps / Airships Everything from the Goodyear blimp to the Zeppelin

Night Photos Beautiful shots taken while the sun is below the horizon

Accidents Accident, incident and crash related photos

Air to Air Photos taken by airborne photographers of airborne aircraft

Special Paint Schemes Aircraft painted in beautiful and original liveries

Airport Overviews Airport overviews from the air or ground

Tails and Winglets Tail and Winglet closeups with beautiful airline logos