The Sunburn - Iran's Russian Missile Could Destroy US Navy in Gulf
Iranian Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani visited Moscow in October 2001 he requested a test firing of the Sunburn, which the Russians were only too happy to arrange. So impressed was Ali Shamkhani that he placed an order for an undisclosed number of the missiles.
Many years ago, Soviet planners gave up trying to match the US Navy ship for ship, gun for gun, and dollar for dollar. They shrewdly adopted an alternative approach based on strategic defense - developing several supersonic anti-ship missiles, one of which, the SS-N-22 Sunburn, has been called "the most lethal missile in the world today." Today, Russian missiles are a growth industry generating much-needed cash for Russia, with many billions in combined sales to India, China, Viet Nam, Cuba, and also Iran. In the near future this dissemination of advanced technology is likely to present serious challenges to the US. Some have even warned that the US Navy's largest ships, the massive carriers, have now become floating death traps, and should for this reason be mothballed.
The Sunburn missile has never seen use in combat, to my knowledge, which probably explains why its fearsome capabilities are not more widely recognized. Other cruise missiles have been used, of course, on several occasions, and with devastating results.
During the Falklands War, French-made Exocet missiles, fired from Argentine fighters, sunk the HMS Sheffield and another ship. And, in 1987, during the Iran-Iraq war, the USS Stark was nearly cut in half by a pair of Exocets while on patrol in the Persian Gulf. Not only is the Sunburn much larger and faster, it has far greater range and a superior guidance system.
The Sunburn can deliver a 200-kiloton nuclear payload, or: a 750-pound conventional warhead, within a range of 100 miles, more than twice the range of the Exocet. The Sunburn combines a Mach 2.1 speed (two times the speed of sound) with a flight pattern that hugs the deck and includes "violent end maneuvers" to elude enemy defenses. The missile was specifically designed to defeat the US Aegis radar defense system. A single one of these missiles can sink a large warship, yet costs considerably less than a fighter jet.
The US Navy has never faced anything in combat as formidable as the Sunburn missile. Try and imagine it if you can: barrage after barrage of Exocet-class missiles, which the Iranians are known to possess in the hundreds, as well as the unstoppable Sunburn and Yakhonts missiles. The questions that our purblind government leaders should be asking themselves, today, if they value what historians will one day write about them, are two: how many of the Russian anti-ship missiles has Putin already supplied to Iran? And: How many more are currently in the pipeline?
The US Navy will come under fire even if the US does not participate in the first so-called surgical raids on Iran's nuclear sites, that is, even if Israel goes it alone. Armed with their Russian-supplied cruise missiles, the Iranians will close the lake's only outlet, the strategic Strait of Hormuz, cutting off the trapped and dying Americans from help and rescue. The US fleet massing in the Indian Ocean will stand by helplessly, unable to enter the Gulf to assist the survivors or bring logistical support to the other US forces on duty in Iraq.
With enough anti-ship missiles, the Iranians can halt tanker traffic through Hormuz for weeks, even months. With the flow of oil from the Gulf curtailed, the price of a barrel of crude will skyrocket on the world market. Within days the global economy will begin to grind to a halt.