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Rod Reuven Dovid Bryant and Jerry Gordon bring back Dr. Stephen Bryen, former Reagan era Defense official, premier Washington -based military technology expert and Asia Times columnist. The discussion focused on the technology behind Israeli successes in the recent Shadow War episodes in late August 2019 against Iran’s Quds Force and proxies Hezbollah and Shi’ite Popular Mobilization Forces in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. We also delved into the Russian disastrous test of a nuclear reactor powered missile in the arctic region, race to develop hypersonic missiles and the lack of anti- effective missile defense by the US. Bryen explained Israel’s adroit use of Chinese-made quadracopter drones in the attacks in Beirut on the weekend of August 22-23rd, 2019. Those attacks destroyed the principal specialized machine for mixing solid fuel propellant for precision ballistic missiles. The destruction of that device may have set back Iran’s plan to help Hezbollah manufacture precision missiles by at least a year. Bryen noted that heretofore Israel had engaged in attacks on weapons warehouses in Damascus and other locations in Syria for transshipment of complete missiles to Hezbollah. Instead Iran adopted a covert program to establish manufacturing facilities in both Syria and Lebanon, making it harder for Israel to target such facilities. The Beirut attack on the rocket propellant factory, using the Chinese quadracopter drones, he speculated, was possibly launched from small boats positioned in Beirut harbor, providing plausible deniability to Israel. He noted that China has one company that manufactures 70 percent of the world supply of these small quadracopter drones that have supplied resurgent ISIS and other jihadi groups in the Middle East. The attack on the so-called “IRGC killer drones” in Syria that same weekend took place at a resort golf course south of Damascus was facilitated by Israeli intelligence. Among the five casualties were a senior Quds Force commander of its drone arm and two Hezbollah ‘pilots’. Bryen said that was illustrative of the comments of former Israeli Military Intelligence chief, Maj. Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin, who said in response to these Israeli raids “that he would want to be an Iranian commander”. The attack that weekend in Iraq may have been the carried out by Israel’s F-35 Adir squadron using so-called SPICE weapons- essentially guided bombs that provided a stand-off capability of 62 miles. Bryen noted that no Iraqi aircraft were launched, possibly indicative that Israel used its F-35s in the raid. He said that Israel will not tolerate Iran positioning ballistic missiles in Iraqi warehouses controlled by its proxy Shi’ite Popular Mobilization Forces capable of hitting the Jewish nation. The spectacular failure of Hezbollah retaliatory featuring launch from Lebanon of Russian-made Kornet anti-tank missiles against IDF targets in Israel’s north the final weekend of August was apparently anticipated by IDF Northern Command and did not incur casualties. It was the use of Kornet anti-tank missiles during the second Lebanon War in 2006 that spurred Israel’s development of the Trophy anti-tank defense system for tanks and armored vehicles that sparked US army interest in procurement. We discussed recent Israeli announcement of its intent to purchase a squadron of US VS-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft for use in special ops missions. The aircraft are flying long stage distances in its plane mode capable of landing 20 commandos in its rotary mode. Israel was denied purchase of the versatile special ops aircraft in 2012 by the Pentagon for fear that they might be used for attacks on Iran’s nuclear facilities. The Ospreys have high maintenance requirements because of their tilt-rotor capabilities. One of Israel’s versatile anti-tank missiles is the SPIKE which is undergoing test by the US Army for its fleet of AH-6 Apache attack helicopters. Its versatility stems from its ability to change targets in mid- flight and its longer range compared to the US Hellfire missile. According to Bryen it is popular with many western NATO militaries. Bryen had recently written about the race to develop Hypersonic missiles by the US, Russia and China. He discussed the recent explosion in Russia’s arctic region of an unshielded nuclear reactor powered hypersonic cruise missile launched from a barge. The disaster had caused the deaths of five Rosatom scientists and release of radioactive materials necessitating iodine tablet treatment for population in the impacted area. Bryen noted Russia’s previous atomic program disasters in the 1950’s, the 1980’s at Chernobyl and this recent episode. The nuclear reactor as a power unit for hypersonic missiles would raise heat to 3,000 degrees and allegedly the highly radioactive exhaust gases released might be capable of hypersonic speeds in the atmosphere greater than 5 x of the speed of sound. The US Bryen said had successfully ground tested a nuclear-powered ramjet version in the 1960’s. He noted that the Russian Navy announced its intent to deploy non-nuclear hypersonic missiles with a range of 600 miles. Bryen contended that US has no defense against hypersonic missiles, whether the Ground-based Mid-Course Interceptors or the THAAD system.

 

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