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In September 1999, the Navy super-sonic target project (SSST) ended
after eight years of study without a selection, leaving America without
a means to test the multi-billion dollar Aegis missile air defense
According to declassified documents from Logicon Corp., the U.S. Navy
contractor responsible for all Navy ship air defenses, the Clinton move
“will have significant impact upon future SSST testing.”
The Clinton move not to issue a contract is also a victory for the
Russian Zvezda-Strela State Scientific Industrial Center, maker of the
MA-31 super-sonic target missile. An Aug. 31, 1999 letter to Senator
Lugar, R-Ind., issued by Navy Undersecretary H. Lee Buchanan, claimed
that the Navy would only purchase a “limited number” of the Russian made
However, according to Logicon, the Navy now “plans to procure 37
additional MA-31 targets in financial year 2000, providing politics does
not stop the procurement.”
U.S. Navy sources, responding to a Freedom of Information request
(FOIA), confirmed the Russian MA-31 does not meet the technical
requirements for the Navy’s SSST contract. Previous test results
obtained from Boeing show that the Russian MA-31 cannot meet the minimum
requirements set by the Navy, to fly 1,500 miles per hour for 50 miles
at 50 feet.
“It can only fly 16 miles on the deck,” stated Mr. Hotze in September
1999; Hotze is the U.S. Navy program manager for the MA-31 program.
Boeing officials again refused to comment on the MA-31 project with
Zvezda. Repeated phone calls to Boeing have not been returned. Navy
Undersecretary Buchanan has also turned down a second request for an
Under pressure from an FOIA request, U.S. Navy managers also denied
any knowledge of allegations of corruption regarding kickbacks in the
payments for the Russian missiles.
“We send the money to the Russians,” stated Hotze. “What they do with
it is their business.”
Navy documents show that each MA-31 missile costs $910,000 — a price
which is almost twice the price of current U.S. weapons. The reason for
the extremely high price, according to Jane’s
Defense, is that each U.S purchase also includes
a 28 percent “fee” per missile — amounting to over $250,000. The
more-than quarter million dollars is paid directly to Russian generals.
In September 1999, the U.S. Navy decided not to purchase the
8,000-pound Allied-Signal Sea Snake super-sonic cruise missile. The
reason, according to Buchanan, was the Sea Snake was “too large” to
represent the current threat.
Yet, the REAL threat is not the small MA-31, which weighs only 1,100
pounds. Russian missile makers recently put on sale the very latest in
super-sonic killing technology, the NPO Mashinostroyenya Yahont (NATO
SS-N-26). The Yahont ramjet missile is nearly 30 feet long, over 2 feet
in diameter, and weighs in at 8,598 pounds.
The Russian SS-N-26 was put on sale in August 1999, during an
air-show, as the primary anti-ship weapon for the Sukhoi SU-32 Naval
variant of the SU-27 Flanker. The Yahont is being offered to China,
India, and Vietnam. Other potential customers include Iraq, Iran and
The Yahont missile was described as an integral kerosene-fueled
ramjet with a top speed of mach 2.6 at 45,000 feet and a range of 180
miles. The SS-N-26 appears to be almost a duplicate of the Allied Signal
developed Sea Snake, which was rejected as “too large” by U.S. Navy
Guidance is reported to be provided by an inertial system with the
missile descending to a sea-skimming mode 33 feet (10 meters) for its
terminal phase of active/passive radar homing. The Yahont is reported to
deliver a 440-pound warhead at an impact velocity of 2,460 feet per
second — faster than a rifle bullet.
Russia has already fielded several very large missiles similar to the
Yahont and U.S. Sea Snake. The SS-N-22 (NATO code-name “Sunburn”)
anti-ship missile weighs over 7,000 pounds, and is the primary armament
for Russian-made destroyers purchased by China.
The Clinton administration’s selection in favor of the Russian
missile will force the closure of a U.S. missile defense plant located
in Indiana. The Sea Snake is a 1990’s version of the U.S. Navy Talos
ramjet powered missile produced by Allied Signal at Mishawaka, Ind. The
Talos missile was deployed as the number one surface-to-air defense
(SAM) missile for the Navy during the Cold War.
Ironically, the Navy’s decision not to buy the Sea Snake may benefit
the U.S. Air Force. USAF officials have quietly expressed interest in an
air-launched version of the Sea Snake to arm B-1, B-2 and B-52 bombers
on anti-ship and air defense suppression missions.
In 1999, the USAF lost a F-117A stealth bomber to a Serb air defense
missile. U.S. bombers also encountered electronic emissions from Russian
warships during their flights over Kosovo. This spurred the U.S. Air
Force to seek a SAM-killer cruise missile that could penetrate advanced
air defenses and sink enemy warships.
The USAF nearly ran out of smart weapons during the air war over
Kosovo. The Air Force “JASSM” stealthy cruise missile is not slated to
begin production until 2002 and costs nearly a million dollars a copy.
The shortage of sub-sonic cruise missiles and smart bombs drove the Air
Force to seek alternative solutions to strike heavily defended targets
deep inside enemy territory.
USAF officials are evaluating the export of advanced Russian air
defense systems and modern warships after the war in Kosovo. In
September 1999, USAF officials openly expressed fear that the
latest C version of the Russian SA-10 Grumble air defense missile will
soon be exported to Iran, Iraq, Libya and Serbia. China currently fields
their own version of the SA-10 and also plans to upgrade with purchases
of the SA-10C.
In response, Air Force bomber crews expressed a need for a
heavy-weight, high speed, surface-skimming missile that could defeat the
best air defenses. Allied engineers noted the Sea Snake meets the USAF
requirements and could exceed them with little or no modification. An
Allied Signal engineer commented that a single weaponized Sea Snake
would “obliterate” an SA-10 site.
According to the Allied Signal source, a minor change in the Sea
Snake fin system might be required. This is because, at a speed of over
2,000 miles an hour, air friction will melt its current aluminum control
surfaces. The Allied proposal would upgrade the Sea Snake with stainless
steel or composite fins.
When asked if the huge four-ton missile could be dropped by a B-52
bomber, the engineer noted, “No problem. You can drop a kitchen sink
from a B-52.”
The weaponized version of the Sea Snake, called Talos, is already a
battle-proven weapon. Talos had a long and successful career filling
Navy air defense needs until it was retired from service in the late
1980s. Allied Signal Director for New Business Development Mike Boies
noted that the Talos story did not end with its retirement from active
“When Talos was retired we modified and successfully fired over 500
missiles as Navy target drones called Vandal,” stated Boies.
Allied Signal claims that Vandal was merely “successful” are modest
indeed. The Vandal/Talos is so fast and maneuverable that it frequently
outperforms the Navy Aegis anti-missile defenses intended to replace it.
During the Vietnam War a single Talos destroyed two MiGs at a distance
of over 65 miles. Talos was also used to strike North Vietnamese radar
sites on the ground over 75 miles inland.
Technical specifications, however, are of no concern to the
Clinton/Gore administration. U.S. Navy Aegis missile development,
testing, and even active deployment has been limited by political
restrictions from the White House. Bill Clinton has imposed political
limitations on the Aegis missile systems, restricting it from live
anti-missile intercepts that could threaten the ABM (Anti-Ballistic
Missile) treaty with the former Soviet Union.
The MA-31 deal is part of a political deal made by the Clinton/Gore
administration with Russia. The troubled Navy SSST project has become a
political plum that Clinton and Gore gave to corrupt Russian generals.
The only real threat, new heavy Russian missiles, are now being offered
in Beijing, Tehran, Baghdad and Tripoli by the same generals who cut the
MA-31 deal with the Clinton/Gore administration.
The Clinton missile gap will close an important U.S. defense
industrial center and force American engineers into the unemployment
line. The Clinton-created missile gap leaves U.S. Navy warships with
untested defenses, untrained crews and no domestic source for realistic
Thanks to Bill Clinton and Al Gore, our Navy will now sail into
harm’s way unprepared and vulnerable.