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Strike on Israeli Navy Ship - Jed Babbin

Over the weekend, I spoke to a retired senior Israeli military officer who gave me some insights into the missile strike on the small Israeli navy ship.

The Hizballah terrorists - probably aided at the scene by Iranian Republican Guard officers and/or technicians - fired a Chinese-designed C-802 "Silkworm" missile at the ship. My source indicated that the missile may be Iranian-manufactured, but other sources indicate this is more likely a direct import from China. The Silkworm is a subsonic, radar-guided cruise missile that carries a warhead of about 120 pounds of high explosive. This Israeli ship, a corvette, is one of the smallest ships (about 1300 tons' displacement and 300 feet long) that qualifies as a "ship" rather than a "boat." (By comparison, a Nimitz-class carrier is about 98,000 tons and is about 1100 feet long). A missile such as the Silkworm, with a warhead that large, should be able to sink a corvette almost instantly. But this Israeli ship is a bit different.

For starters, it's apparent that the crew wasn't tuned in. Their anti-missile defense systems, which this former senior officer told me includes an Israeli-designed anti-missile missile system and a Vulcan cannon (very similar to the close-in weapon system mounted on our capital ships), could easily have destroyed the Silkworm before it hit. But for one thing: as open sources have reported the crew didn't think they were facing a missile threat so the system wasn't turned on. That may or may not be the real reason. My source didn't accept this explanation.

Two conclusions: First, this Israeli corvette is apparently the best of its kind in the world. It not only stayed afloat after taking a hit that should have sunk it in seconds, it regained power and got itself out of the line of fire; and second, the undemonstrated capability of the Israeli anti-missile system may be a decisive advantage in any larger war. (Note to Mr. Assad: survivable ships, no matter what their size, can deliver all sorts of weapons, and can loiter in range of targets almost indefinitely.)