Did i actually put a % number on it?Originally Posted by The_Burning_Kid
To be honest, if i had that to do over again i'd lower it a LOT to about 1% tops.
Of course they don't have to hit to be effective.
Here's an essay on IADS fundamentals by Stuart slade:
" AWACS And Air Defense Systems Before we look at how we can best use an AWCS, we'll have a closer look at air defense systems in general. Contrary to much mythology, AWACS birds are not some great, all conquering denizens of air combat, they are just a way by which we can do some necessary things very efficiently. This is a modified and updated version of something I wrote about three years ago.
The backbone of an integrated air defense system is a series of command centers. The lowest level of these are the Local Operations Centers (LOC) which simply gather information from sensors assigned to them and pass that up the tree. The LOCs also receive instructions and issue orders to the defenses. LOCs are very often mobile and in some cases built into the radar itself. Giraffe is the most notable of the systems where the LOC is built into the radar. Everybody outside IADS professionals laughed at Ericsson for doing it that way then made themselves scarce when the Iraqi IADS went down. The LOC can be compared to an infantry platoon fighting is own private little war and not really knowing or caring whats going on around it.
Next up the tree is the Sector Operations Center (SOC). This takes the information from the LOCs, deconflicts it (this means assembing all the LOC pictures, resolving any contradictions between them and ensuring that multiple reports of the same contact are identified as such) and adds in additional material such as safe routes for own aircraft, secure operating zones, details of prohibited and special-threat areas etc to construct a tactical picture of what is actually happening in the sector in question. Note that a LOC doesn't really know what is going on, it is reliant on the SOC telling it what is happening and putting its data into context. This is a very important thing to remember; the guys at the front DON'T know what is happening; they only know what they can see and thats usually very misleading. SOC is the tactical command of the air battle. In Army terms it can be compared to a company or battalion command.
One step higher is the Regional Operations Center or ROC. The ROC takes the tactical picture assembled by the SOCs and adds yet more data, of own operations, specific requirements, logistical considerations etc. Usually it is at this level that information from other services is added to the pool so that a rounded picture can be obtained. The ROCs then issue instructions to the SOCs who convert them into operational orders for the LOCs.Its also at ROC level that assets are distributed, threats assessed and a general overview of the picture kept. In a real sense, its the ROC that actually has the best idea of what is happening. In a way, the ROC is the operational command of the air battle. In Army equivalence, it can be thought of as the Divisional command level.
Finally, at the top of the hill is the National Operations Center or NOC. This takes all the information from the ROCs and assembles a nation-wide picture of how the battle is going. Ideally, the role of the NOC should be one of masterly inactivity, doing nothing but watch, intervening only if there is a matter of overriding national importance in question. This all sounds very clumsy but it isn't, provided its computerized and works. If it isn't and/or doesn't then the defense has problems. The NOC is the strategic command of the air battle.
The eyes of the air defense system are mainly its radars. The nomenclature we'll use here is the modern one wherein radar frequency bands run from A to P increasing in frequency as we go up. As a rule of thumb, the lower the frequency, the longer the range but the less precise the contact. The higher frequencies give us much more precise contacts but have shorter ranges and are much more restricted in their search ability. As we go from A to P, antennas get progressively smaller (P-band radars fit in the nose of small missiles). This convention replaces the old L, S, C, X and Ka/Ku band convention
The primary radars used are the long-range air surveillance radars (sometimes these are called Volume Search Radars or VSRs). Up to the late 1980s, these almost invariably operated in the E and F bands since this offered the best compromise between range and precision. Since the early 1990s, the D-band solution is becoming more popular since modern processing has greatly improved precision while D-band gives better coverage in bad weather and is more difficult to jam. These days VSRs are mostly 3-D systems; the old days saw two radars used for this role, a 2-D VSR and a seperate height-finding radar. The VSRs provide long-range coverage (typically 300 - 400 miles) but their use is tricky. Because their range is so long, their coverage is actuially quite spotty; things like mountains get in the way creating terrain shadows, the radars can't look into valleys etc. This can be reduced by placing the radar high up - eg on a mountain. the ultimate expression of that, of course is to put the VSR on an aircraft. Another problem is lobing. Although most artwork shows radar coverage as a symetrical mushroom, this is far from the truth. In fact, coverage is a series of layered lobes (rather like the cross section on a hamburger) and its quite possible for an attacking aircraft to detect the null areas between these lobes and fly through them.
Another problem is datarate, the number of strikes per second that the radar gains on a given targe. For VSRs, this rate is low, often as low as six paints per minute. This means the track can fall behind what the target is trying to do. Yet another is deployability. These radars are large and relatively immobile (even the "mobile" ones can take a couple of hours to strike down ready for moving). Moving these radars is not a good idea for a number of reasons, one being that it makes deconfliction almost impossible. Also, because of the terrain problems, the number of suitable sites is limited. Even then, there will be areas that are completely masked out by inconvenient mountains. These voids in coverage are usually covered by so-called "gap filler" radars that are positioned as needed and add their input to that of the primary VSRs. The LOC gets all this data and tries to make common sense of it before handing it up the chain. By the way really good air defense systems have another level of radars that have ranges of 3,000 - 5,000 miles. These backscatter radars are so imprecise that they are only able to warn the network that something is coming; nevertheless, that limited role is very valuable, particularly in missile defense.
Once the order has been given to engage a target tracked by the VSRs, that target has to be located with enough accuracy to allow it to be fired on. This is the role of the Target Aquisition Radar or TAR. These days these are often called MFRs or multi-functional radars since modern signals processing means they can do part of the VSR and part of the fire control job as well as their own. The TAR takes the imprecise track of the VSR and refines it with great precision. TARs usually operate in the G and H bands and have data rates of around 1 paint per second. The TARs report to the LOC but their data does not usually go up the chain - their role is to ensure that the target is being tracked and its the LOCs job to ensure the TAR is tracking the right target. Once all that is done we go to the final stage.
For this we drop to the last class of radar, the Fire Control System or FCS. This is a high-frequency (normally I or J bands but increasingly K band) radar that doesn't scan. Its pointed at the target by the TAR and once contact is made, follow that contact only. The FCS can feed the range, altitude course and velocity data to anti-aircraft guns or steer missiles to targets or coach fighters into the attack.
So now we come to weapons (note, right at the end of a prolonged system). Some will be batteries of very long range missiles. these strike at high-altitude targets, those just entering the defended zone, those coming in along anticipated routes or just launched to shake up the attackers. They have a lot of roles other than shooting down aircraft; they break up carefully calculated formations, force the attackers to burn fuel with evasive manoeuvers, and add to the general air of gloom and despondancy. Its quite possible that inexperienced pilots under this type of attack will fly into the ground trying to evade missiles that are actually of little threat to them. The long-range missiles will have big warheads that can damage aircraft even if it doesnt kill them. These big missiles can be equated to barrage fire from artillery - the kill rate isn't high but thats not the point (although against an unsophisticated or careless enemy these long-range missiles can be devastating).
Intermediate range missiles basically provide area coverage against intruders. These are the workhorses of the system; they are the ones that brings specific aircraft under fire and attempt to stop them penetrating the system. Remember (this is very important) the function of the system is NOT to shoot down aircraft, its to make the results they achieve not worth the effort made to achieve them. An aircraft forced to abort is as much a success as one shot down; each aircraft forced to divert its efforts to attacking the ADS is as much a victory as one left burning in a field. This is a key phrase and if you remember nothing else from this lesson, remember these two words. Virtual Attrition. Each aircraft mission used to penetrate the defense, each hardpoint used for fuel or ECM instead of weapons, each aircraft flying tanker instead of strike, each fighter escorting the strike aircraft or tankers instead of dropping bombs is as much a loss to the attacker as if it had been shot down. Virtual attrition is crucial, war winning stuff. Look at it this way, if the IADS works well it will kill around 10 percent of each attacking wave but if it forces each aircraft to divert one of its four hardpoints to an ECM pod instead of a bomb, its inflicted 25 percent casualties - without firing a shot.
In this world, numbers are key. The more missiles there are, the more sustained the assault on the attacking aircraft and the greater the variety of threats those aircraft have to face. Large numbers of missiles also gives the air defense system the option of putting batteries in non-optimum locations as nasty surprises. In many ways, the Soviets had the right idea, it doesn't matter how good the individual missiles are, the important thing is to wallpaper the country with them. The fabulous Nike system worked the same way; everything expensive was on the ground and reusable; the missiles themselves were barely more complex than a child's toy rocket.
Short range missiles basically defend key points. They defend the air defense system itself plus provide last-ditch defenses around airfields, SAM site and the various levels of OC.To some extent it may appear their deployment represents a failure of the Air Defense System since it implies that aircraft have actually penetrated the main defenses but actually this is misleading. The presence of the short-range missiles means that aircraft penetrating the net have to reserve enough combat capability to hande the last line. This can be the last straw. Its easy to imagine an attack aircraft expending its defensive munitions penetrating the screen and having to abort because its got nothing left (or has been too badly damaged)to chance the point defenses.
Where do guns fit into this? Often dismissed as obsolete, they have advantages all of their own. They and their ammunition are cheap. They are not dependent on radars to work - if all else fails they can spew bullets skywards and hope. They are simple to operate. Their tracers scare the living daylights out of inbound pilots and may distract that pilot from the less obvious threat of an inbound missile.
The important thing is to see how interlinked and how interdependent this system is. The long-range systems break up attacks to give short-range system easier targets, Short range systems protect long range ones. Ground-based defenses provide safe havens over which airborne command posts can fly; the airborne command posts provide coverage that can't be matched by ground-based systems.
A curious thing about these systems is that, when they are subject to systems analysis, it becomes obvious that dramatic improvements in capabilities of one system component are virtually meaningless unless matched throughout the system. On the other hand, small, incremental improvements replicated throughout the air defense system can have a dramatic effect on capability. This is particularly true of communications - so much communicating goes on that even a small increase in its efficiency significantly upgrades the system as a whole. So there we have an Air Defense System. The systems integrator dusts the consoles and hands the keys to the national command authority and its up and running. And waiting.
So where does the AWACS fit into all this? The problem with an IADS is that it all has to work together. If it can be discombobulated (that is, broken into its individual elements) it can be taken down quite easily. The key is to knock out the SOCs and ROCs (the LOCs are of no great concern and the NOC should only be attacked out of undiluted sadism. On the first night of an air offensive, generals have better things to do than shoot at eachother. But if we take out the ROCs and SOCs the whole system falls apart. The LOCs can't shoot because if they do, they could be downing their own planes, and they don't know where the enemy comes from. Without the ROCs and SOCs, the radars have no tactical picture to work from and will be picked off by the bombers. Thats why such attacks on the operating centers are called knocking the enemy's SOCs off. With the radars going down the weapons don't know whats happening and they get hit. With the weapons gone, the system can be penetrated and the targets it protects destroyed. The problem is, next morning, the ROCs and SOCs can't be set up again until the radars are back on line; they can't be fixed until the missiles and guns are back in operation to defend them and that won't happen until the ROCS and SOCs tell them whats going on. Uhhh bad problem guys. Next night the bombers come back and head for the NOC - which is why the defending commanders have rippled their pants and taken to the hills.
Now imagine that first night seen from the air through an ESM system. We have the twinkling little lights of the defense system. Suddenly they all start going out along some specific axes. This is where the AWACS comes in. Its mobile so it can be deployed where the threat is developing; its agile so it can't be bombed (note that any competent attack will know exactly where every part of the defense system on the ground is). It can be "got at" but it can shelter in the unaffected parts of the system and fight the battle over the downed section. It sends in fighters, relays communications - now see how valauble the C4I built into Giraffe is - it means the LOC can hook to an AWACS and keep fighting the battle. The AWACS can track the attacking aircraft, determine which are real threats, which are escorts, which are tankers. Its ESM can pick out the enemy Wild Weasels and vector fighters in on them. Again, its synergy. The ground air defense system protects the AWACS by giving it sheltered areas to fly in; the AWACS protects the IADS by fighting the attacks aimed at it.
There are two ways of doing AEWC. The first is to put everything in into the AEWC aircraft. This includes the radar, the datalinks, the data processing computers and the associated ESM and IFF equipment. This makes the aircraft is completely independent so that it can be redeployed as and when its owners wish . One deployed, possibly many hundreds or thousands of miles from its base it can manage an air battle all on own. The facilities built into the E-3 are the reason why it costs so much. Its not the airframe; whether the baseline is an old 707 or new 767 is not really significant. Nor is it the radar; its the C4I built into aircraft. For American purposes this approach is ideal because the US requires a strategically deployable system
The other approach is to put radar on aircraft with a special-purpose dedicated datalink to a ground station that contains all the necessary facilities. This gives very cheap way of getting an airborne radar. It also means we can use much smaller aircraft with a small crew. Most birds of this type have three perhaps four crewmembers. A side advantage is that the data processing capability can be much better since it does not have the weight or volume restrictions imposed by the aircraft. The problem is that it is undeployable since the system configuration means that aircraft must operate with an existing ground system.
The Russian A-50 is a superb example of the fact that offer the Russians two ways to do something and they'll find another. The A-50 has datalinks to Mig-31 fighters but also Mig-31 have datalinks back. This means that the A-50 can take radar information from fighters and add to own picture. It also means it is possible to have a much greater area covered and to get the fighters to the scene of the action. The A-50 can even fly the MiG-31 fighters from its own
stations and can even fire the weapons from the MiGs. That means it can deploy its fighters down the threat axis and then take radar information from those fighters to extend radar coverage down that threat axis. Imagine a circle changing to an ellipse as the fighters move down the threat axis. Now imagine two of three such combinations working together and merging their picture. Its not a system the USAF wants or needs but its one the Russians find greatly suited to their requirements. By the way, you may like to think about F-14s partnering with E-2s the same way.
The large powerful flying radar part of an AWACS gets most of the attention but the basic idea has been around for over 50 years. We can expect to see some suggestions of its offensive use during that time. The most prominent was the use of EC-121 Warning Stars over Laos during the Vietnam War; there they monitored activity at Vietnamese airfields and warned US crews operating over Vietnam of developing threats. They could also vector air-to-air configured aircraft in to intercept the defending fighters before they could get to the air-to-ground configured aircraft. Earlier airborne radar aircraft did much the same thing over Korea.
It's the other side of the equation that was really important; the battle management capability. What that means is that an AWACS can sit behind its own defensive screen and use its radar to monitor hostile air activity deep into enemy territory. It can then use that data to construct a tactical picture of whats going on. For example hubs of air activity represent important enemy bases; an "important base" on the map that lacks air activity may be a decoy. Enemy air operations can be monitored and friendly interceptors sent out to meet them. Friendly aircraft can be warned of threats developing to them. The AWACS can also do resource allocation; for example one outbound strike package (bombers and escorting fighters) faces no threats but another is the focus of developing air-to-air threats; so the AWACS can strip fighters from the one and reassign them (or send reinforcements to) the other.
If AWACS is used the way its supposed to be used (that is as the airborne complement to a ground air defense system), its a very difficult target to take down. We're hitting our old friend virtual attrition again; every aircraft diverted to taking down an AWACS is one that isn't doing something else. One way is to use ultra-long-range air-to-air missiles. The Soviets played with this one with proposed air-to-airs that could reach out 400 kilometers. One variant shown at Farnborough was passive radar homing. The beauty of that was that (if it worked) it would force the AWACS to shut down its radar. Thats working virtual attrition the other way, force the AWACS to shut down its radar and its as good as shot down even if it never gets scratched. Another way to threaten an AWACS is to mount a co-ordinated attack preferably under the control of a friendly AWACS. EW birds to jam the radar and the data-links, fighters to engage the defensive fighters, other fighters to punch through and go for the AWACS. Thats a lot of assets, virtual attrition again.
And THAT is why AWACS is a stabilizing factor. It makes the air defense system much harder to penetrate. In enhances the level of both actual and virtual attrition to the point where the enemy cannot penetrate the system. That means one-blow airstrikes of the sort that took the Egyptian Air Force out in 1967 become almost impossible. Since they are going to be hard and expensive, people will think twice before doing them. That means they are less likely to do them and (also) the guys on the other side of the defense line are going to be less jumpy. Security and Stability are good, they stops wars. The better the defenses the less likely the war. And stopping wars is why defense forces exist."