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New Russian Weapon Hides In Shipping Container 618

Posted by kdawson
from the now-you-see-it dept.
shmG writes "A Russian company is marketing a devastating new cruise missile system that can be hidden inside a shipping container, giving any merchant vessel the capability to wipe out an aircraft carrier. Potential customers for the formidable 'Club-K' system include Kremlin allies Iran and Venezuela, say defense experts. They worry that countries could pass on the satellite-guided missiles, which are very hard to detect, to terrorist groups. This is a scary new development in the global arms race that allows for the proliferation of cruise missiles to anyone who will pay for them — even terrorists. This could be the next big thing in strategic weapons, as they can appear anywhere there is a container ship. The company even made a commercial and posted it onto the Internet." The article notes that a Russian defense expert said that "as far as he understood, the Club-K was still at the concept stage."
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New Russian Weapon Hides In Shipping Container

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  • Containment (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @05:24AM (#31996466)

    This threat must be contained

    • Yeah, you can try to stop one Russian company from selling these weapons, but this is nothing new. The French government sell weapons like this to anyone, try stopping them. :S

      Oh, and thank you for a funny FP. :)

      • Re:Containment (Score:4, Informative)

        by Eunuchswear (210685) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @10:16AM (#31999090) Journal

        The French government sell weapons like this to anyone, try stopping them.

        Citation needed maybe?

        Worlds largest arms exporters (in 2007, Source [wikipedia.org]):

        1. USA ....... 7.454 G$
        2. Russia .... 4.588 G$
        3. Germany ... 3.395 G$
        4. France .... 2.690 G$
        5. Ukraine ... 1.395 G$
        6. Netherlands.1.355 G$
        7. UK ........ 1.151 G$

        (Damn but the UK is fucked, they used to be a contender).

        (why is it so fucking hard to do a table in slashcode?).

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Z00L00K (682162)

      I would say that it would be sufficient to ship the warhead in a container and then detonate it when it arrives at the right port.

      A decent sized hydrogen bomb in a container would be able to cause some mess.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      I am so going to get a empty shipping container, paint some Russian letters on it and put it in my backyard ... and then make sure my neighbors see that article. Your move, Mr. Jones.
  • by Carewolf (581105) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @05:28AM (#31996486) Homepage

    I really hope a single cruise missile can't take out an aircraft carrier, if they can, then you have far bigger problems that missiles in merchant ships. They or their escorts should have the defenses to evade or destroy most missile types.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Thanshin (1188877)

      Exactly my first thought.

      I can't believe it's possible to get anything bigger than a football close enough to a cruiser, bypassing all anti-missile systems.

      • by sentientbeing (688713) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @05:52AM (#31996614)
        We once ordered a bulk shipment of used ISA abnd SCSI cards on ebay from Russia for a recycling project.

        Due to a mix up at customs I received a mislabeled container destined for a well-known middle east state. Imagine my surprise when we opened it and found four fully-armed intercontinental nuclear cruise missiles. How we laughed. Needless to say we left negative feedback and returned the item. The sales manager was not happy AT ALL.
      • by delta98 (619010) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @05:58AM (#31996656)
        Hate to float a turd but... there has been a cruse missile with these capabilities for sometime now. The military won't generally acknowledge this fact because doing so would kill the budget for big carriers. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS-N-22 [wikipedia.org] this is a link to an older type so feel free to correct me(as if /. needs an invite)-;.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by MoonBuggy (611105)

          Interesting. I couldn't find details anywhere of how big a warhead the Club-K can carry, but apparently it can hit Mach 3, which is also one of the things that makes the SS-N-22 so dangerous. Also found a £10,000,000 per container price tag [telegraph.co.uk], which doesn't seem to be mentioned elsewhere.

          More importantly, though, what self respecting nation doesn't want to buy missiles that are advertised with the Pirates of the Carribean theme [youtube.com]!

        • by Lord Pillage (815466) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @07:08AM (#31997102)
          Yeah, but there are counter-measures available. Just for example, the Ramses Missile Jammer [janes.com]. Which is capable of deterring missiles, even when traveling at supersonic speeds. It's primary goal is to jam sea surface skimming missiles such as the ss-n-22 sunburn, among many others. I'm sure the Navy has even better stuff then this.
        • by dotancohen (1015143) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @08:30AM (#31997754) Homepage

          Hate to float a turd but...

          Another related turd is that merchant ships have been used to transfer weapons in recent memory. Israel detained the Karine A [wikipedia.org] in 2002 and at least one other ship recently.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by warGod3 (198094)

        Remember back a few years ago, an IED did some damage to the USS Cole (Arleigh Class Destroyer).

        As for taking out a capital ship, such as a carrier, would require some planning, some skill and a damn good bit of coordination... good luck with that.

      • by CarpetShark (865376) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @06:18AM (#31996748)

        I can't believe it's possible to get anything bigger than a football close enough to a cruiser,

        The trick is to pretend to be a rock band, and have Erika Eleniak in tow.

      • by vtcodger (957785) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @08:15AM (#31997614)

        ***I can't believe it's possible to get anything bigger than a football close enough to a cruiser, bypassing all anti-missile systems.***

        Believe it. You may be correct about the open ocean under wartime conditions against an unsophisticated opponent. But major vessels have been taken out by clever opponents in training exercises. Here's a quote from the Guardian's story on Operation Millenium Challenge -- a major war game conducted in 2002.

        ***In the first few days of the exercise, using surprise and unorthodox tactics, the wily 64-year-old Vietnam veteran sank most of the US expeditionary fleet in the Persian Gulf, bringing the US assault to a halt.***

        And here's a link to the Guardian story. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2002/sep/06/usa.iraq [guardian.co.uk]

        And, of course, islamic fundamentalists did put a pretty big hole in the USS Cole in 2000 using half their navy (one small boat -- their other boat sank when they overloaded it with explosives). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Cole_bombing [wikipedia.org]

        And NPR told me the other day the US Navy is lugging some Somali pirates back to the US for trial after the pirates attempted to board and loot not one, but two, US destroyers. These may not be the smartest pirates in the Red Sea. But they did apparently manage to get into close proximity to the ships.

    • This has the potential to disrupt trade worldwide. If you can't trust any random container ship anymore (and there are many of those)... then trade will slowly grind to a halt. Remember that a very significant part of all trade is by container.

      That's a much bigger problem to the world than the possibility that one boat owned by the USA is sunk.

      This means that you can even have a weapon on a ship that is owned by a company from a friendly country (if they aren't careful and don't know the contents of the con

      • by Thanshin (1188877)

        I will invest in container scanners immediately...

        I'll be investing on automated container reception and delivery wharves.

      • by auric_dude (610172) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @06:14AM (#31996730)
        The department of Home Land Security is already on top of this one via the Container Security Initiative Ports http://www.dhs.gov/files/programs/gc_1165872287564.shtm [dhs.gov] monitoring.
      • by h00manist (800926) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @06:40AM (#31996908) Journal
        Seriously, the arms race combined with galloping technology progress is just the same as a death wish for everyone. There is no chance in hell of controlling it. Increasing miniaturization, lowering costs, easier manufacturing, simpler distribution. Soon, smaller and smaller fiefs of power with more and more intrigues among them, in addition to nations. Corporations, traffickers, pirates, guerrillas, terrorists, private security companies, crazies, military and politicians, anyone hungry for muscle power. I forgot to mention increasing power and capabilities, escalating the complexity of logistics and possibilities for smaller, easier to plan, quicker and deadlier attacks. The advancement of knowledge and progress required communication, trade, and trust. A high tech arms race, such as is now starting, will kill it. China, Japan, Europe, South America, everyone is building up weapons. If we want to continue evolving, and living, we better start talking negotiations. Contrary to wacky political manipulating statements, stockpiling weapons won't work forever, because history evolves, nothing stays the way it is, the future is not predictable, especially today.
      • by krou (1027572)

        Agreed. As if we need to give military forces any more reason to target civilian infrastructure, shipping, railways, trains, trucks etc. Madness. Certain countries have long justified attacks on civilians and villages by claiming that that's where terrorists are located and are firing their weapons from; how is using this weapon any different to the condemned strategies of these terrorists? This is just another nail in the coffin of the Geneva Conventions.

    • by bertok (226922) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @06:00AM (#31996674)

      I really hope a single cruise missile can't take out an aircraft carrier, if they can, then you have far bigger problems that missiles in merchant ships. They or their escorts should have the defenses to evade or destroy most missile types.

      Precisely.

      First of all, carriers are escored by... carrier battle groups [wikipedia.org]!

      The container ship would have to have a really good excuse for being anywhere near the group in the first place, and would then have to evade battleships on the way to the centre of the fleet where the carrier is, under the fire the whole way, and then the missile it launches will have to make it past the batteries of anti-missile systems like the Phalanx [wikipedia.org].

      Err... no, this won't be taking down aircraft carriers any time soon.

      What it could do however is allow the equivalent of guerrilla warfare on the high seas. Container ships could target cruise liners, merchant vessels, etc... and if nobody was around to see the attack, they might even make it away and claim innocence later. Even the survivors wouldn't see much, because it's fairly simple to attack "over the horizon".

      • by AlecC (512609) <aleccawley@gmail.com> on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @06:20AM (#31996764)

        While I agree that the defensive armament of a carrier battle group is intended to defend against precisely this sort of attack, the container ship would not have to be near: this sort of cruise missile typically has ranges of the order of 200 miles. You cannot enforce a 200 mile radius exclusion circle round your battle group. The missile will fly most of this distance at the height of a hundred or sofeet, so it is vulnerable only as it approaches the screening ships - which is why they are there.

        • by Barny (103770) <bakadamage-slashdot@yahoo.com> on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @06:37AM (#31996888) Homepage Journal

          Something further to point out, if enough dollars were thrown at this, how many such 4 missile containers could you fit in a single height on a typical container ship?

          Lets see, the biggest ships, emma maersk, can have (if they load a little light) 506 40' containers with open top, these suckers look like the longer 80' type tho, and would likely need some extra room for the hinge system on the end.... lets say 126 launch containers with 4 cruise missiles each. I want to see the carrier battle group that can stop that many incoming missiles :)

          • by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @09:16AM (#31998256)

            And I want to see a terrorist group that can afford 126 of these systems (not to mention the ship and trained personnel to actually operate the system), or a government that would go to that much effort just to take down a ship when conventional aircraft strikes would be much more efficient and effective.

            Seriously, this is much ado about nothing. There are a multitude of powerful weapons that are way more portable than this (like Stringer missiles) that terrorists could potentially use but never have (unless you count the time we GAVE them Stingers [historycommons.org]). Even Iran isn't stupid enough to give these yahoos their top-grade stuff.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Chris Burke (6130)

              Even Iran isn't stupid enough to give these yahoos their top-grade stuff.

              Um, yes, but the entire context here is Russia potentially selling these weapons to Iran. I don't quite get the "ally" comment in the summary, but Russia is willing to trade with Iran.

              An Iranian-type asymmetric navy was exactly the kind simulated in the Millennium Challenge where most of a carrier group, carrier included, were sunk. Weapons like this feed directly into the kind of tactics used in that scenario.

      • by Zironic (1112127)

        It's a cruise missile not a crossbow. It doesn't have to be anywhere near the battle group when it's fired.

      • by GreatBunzinni (642500) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @07:30AM (#31997252)

        Err... no, this won't be taking down aircraft carriers any time soon.

        Indeed. You know what else will never happen any time soon? Taking down a brand new 1.1 Billion dollar guided missile destroyer with a mere rubber dinghy [wikipedia.org]. That is a preposterous idea, isn't it? Perfectly impossible. If it's impossible for a diesel sub to make on your major carrier group [dailymail.co.uk] then what are the odds for that to happen? Impossible, I say.

        So, as you see, it's pretty reasonable to assume that a major threat that is capable of rendering one of your main branch of your armed forces completely useless is simply not a thread. Just dig your head into the sand and let's keep mindlessly hammering on the "we are invulnerable" mantra. That does wonders, all right.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by sznupi (719324)

          Non-nuclear subs are the quiter ones BTW, just the range and submerged speed limitations don't make them used that often in open ocean.

          Though...yeah, and that's not the only example. US essentially borrowed a Norwegian, afai remember, sub some time ago for testing. And a heavily modified Kilo from my place "sunk" two US nuclear subs during one NATO training maneuvers.

    • by professionalfurryele (877225) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @06:14AM (#31996726)

      Never mind the offensive capability, this system has to be one of the stupidest ideas I've ever heard. You never, ever, ever camouflage your military systems to look like civilian infrastructure. If you do, you leave your opponent with no choice but to blow up your privately owned merchant marine, your trucks and every cargo container it can see. Part of the reason Germany started using unrestricted submarine warfare was the my countries use of Q-ships. Part of the reason civilian casualties in Gaza are so high is 'police stations' and 'schools' that are anything but.
      Is the idea here to sell this product to countries looking to get their civilians killed for propaganda purposes?

      • by MoonBuggy (611105)

        So paint a big red target on the side of the container.

        It seems like a reasonably sensible idea to be able to rapidly turn a civilian ship/train/truck into a missile launch system, for a country that can't afford to have that much military infrastructure sitting unused. There's no real reason that they have to look like any other old container. The tactical choice to be made is, of course, whether the risk is greater from potentially having your enemies target civilians, or from having your cruise missile s

      • by OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @07:12AM (#31997122) Homepage

        You never, ever, ever camouflage your military systems to look like civilian infrastructure.

        What, pray tell, was the main tactic employed by Iran against Israel in 2006 ? It wouldn't by any chance be ... camouflaging weapons as civilian housing blocks ?

        We're talking here about people who use kindergartens to camouflage launch sites. Is there really any serious doubt that they'll use container ships ? Especially knowing that western media have for dozens of years always blamed the people taking out the missile launch site, and not the bastards using human shields ?

        Get real.

      • by indiechild (541156) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @08:51AM (#31997958)

        Umm, weren't Q-ships used precisely because of Germany's unrestricted submarine warfare? Chicken or the egg?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Yvanhoe (564877)
      This is, however, the sad truth. Aircraft carriers nowadays are very vulnerable beasts. I read that it is acknowledged that in the case of a conflict against Iran, all the US navy in the Persian Gulf would be sunk within hours. One may joke about Russian tech, but they are good at one thing : building missiles that bypass American protections.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        One may joke about Russian tech, but they are good at one thing : building missiles that bypass American protections.

        Really? You have personal knowledge of tests on this capability? Or perhaps you have visited an alternate world where this actual combat has happened?

        You may joke about joking about Russian tech, but you are good at one thing: building posts that bypass mods with no knowledge.

    • by Chrisq (894406)

      I really hope a single cruise missile can't take out an aircraft carrier, if they can, then you have far bigger problems that missiles in merchant ships. They or their escorts should have the defenses to evade or destroy most missile types.

      I put this down to marketing hype. It probably means that it would stand a chance of killing some older small carriers on a good day. I doubt if a fully updated Nimitz-class carrier would have much to worry about, at most they will be on a slightly higher state of alert when coming close to unrecognised container ships.

    • Yeah, that's about as reasonable as classifying every inhabitant of a country that disguises soldiers as civilians as legitimate military targets.

      Way to go, Rambo! Keep shooting those goodwill bullets!

      Oh, and by the way, if you're an American ... even your own generals now realize that half of winning the war is in winning the trust of people, not shooting them.

      • by Hognoxious (631665) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @07:31AM (#31997260) Homepage Journal

        Have you read the Geneva Conventions? You'll find something about combatants being required to wear distinctive badges, signs or uniforms. At first it might appear that those are there to protect soldiers from being shot by "franc tireurs". Nothing could be further from the truth.

        As to gaining the trust of the population, you've got to be joking. They don't even trust the people from the next valley. The whole "me and my brother against my cousin" kind of thing.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Luckyo (1726890)

      I really hope a single cruise missile can't take out an aircraft carrier, if they can, then you have far bigger problems that missiles in merchant ships. They or their escorts should have the defenses to evade or destroy most missile types.

      Actually, exact opposite. Both NATO and Russian sides have pretty near perfect countermeasures for opponent's strengths. The much, MUCH nastier anti-ship missile which is installed on Russian missile cruisers and attack submarines that routinely tail US aircraft carrier task forces is this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P-700_Granit [wikipedia.org]
      NATO gave it a very appropriate name: Shipwreck. Because that's what it does. I recall one of the military buff forums state that folks at NATO estimated the normal 4-missile swar

  • by Joce640k (829181) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @05:29AM (#31996492) Homepage

    Is this a response to yesterday's story about the USA's dick-waving about building new missiles that can reach anywhere on Earth...?

  • by wvmarle (1070040) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @05:29AM (#31996494)

    Actually when I read this earlier in today's news paper I thought it makes total sense from a military/strategic point of view. And I was actually wondering why no-one else had thought of this before. Or maybe they are just not advertising it openly.

    When it comes to transportation and handling of the equipment, a shipping container is great as it is standardised and fits easily on vessels, trains, trucks, and can be handled with standard lifting equipment.

    The down side of course is the disappearance of the civil/military divide, which of course has already happened in many conflicts.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by AndGodSed (968378)

      Well if you take into account that part of winning a war is limiting your adversaries access to resources this makes perfect sense. If you go to war with the US you are pretty sure that they will try and dominate the skies, and with their numerical advantage in most conflicts this will soon be the case.

      Now you are limited to shipping, and if you can arm your merchants you have a way of potentially protecting your lifelines. In WWII this was what kept Britain alive, being able to protect their merchants agai

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by vikingpower (768921)
        Exactly. Churchill, after the war, once admitted that the only thing that could have had the Germans winning the war would have been more investments in submarines, thus destroying more of the allied fleets. He ( Churchill ) said that is was the only possibility that had kept him out of his sleep during the war.
  • Nice panic attack (Score:5, Interesting)

    by houghi (78078) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @05:32AM (#31996504)

    Mentioning terrorists, Iran and Venezuela. Dude, they missed mentioning children that could buy it over the Internet.

    From a pure technical geek point of view, this is a great idea. I am sure that many US weapon makers now will start doing the same thing. Perhaps with a different marketing where they say it is a weapon that can be easily transported to any area where it is needed without the need of specialized transport vehicles, thus reducing the price.

    • by daem0n1x (748565)

      Mentioning terrorists, Iran and Venezuela. Dude, they missed mentioning children that could buy it over the Internet.

      People have to be afraid of some baddies, even fictitious ones, to forget about the economy. It has worked since the dawn of times, why change now? When the US considers a small and poor country like Cuba to be such a huge threat, what would you expect?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by alanw (1822)

      I am sure that many US weapon makers now will start doing the same thing.

      Coincidentally, this comes on the same day that it is reported that the US Army is cancelling its mini cruise missile in a box [wikipedia.org] project:

      http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/04/27/nlos_ls_chopped/ [theregister.co.uk]

  • Simple resolution (Score:4, Insightful)

    by allcoolnameswheretak (1102727) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @05:35AM (#31996526)

    There is a simple resolution to this new weapon: countries known to be in the market for it will have their civilian merchant fleet classified as legitimate military targets.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jerrei (1515395)
      Blowing up innocent people, that'll teach those damn terrorists!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by YeeHaW_Jelte (451855)

      Yeah, that's about as reasonable as classifying every inhabitant of a country that disguises soldiers as civilians as legitimate military targets.

      Way to go, Rambo! Keep shooting those goodwill bullets!

      Oh, and by the way, if you're an American ... even your own generals now realize that half of winning the war is in winning the trust of people, not shooting them...

  • viral? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mrthoughtful (466814) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @05:37AM (#31996540) Journal

    How sure is anyone that this isn't some viral for a computer game?
    The graphics are all cg - even the local russians say it's just a concept.
    The company doesn't even have press liaison.

    • I hope they got permission from Walt Disney to use the Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack in their advertisement.

      Saying that, though, if the tech is real I don't think Walt Disney will complain much.
  • by Bearhouse (1034238) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @05:41AM (#31996558)

    Unsophisticated missiles are not THAT hard to get a hold of already, ranging from Palestinian homebrews to enhanced Scuds.
    But they don't have a great success rate, especially against military targets, and notably naval ones.
    Exocets, on the other hand, do have a good success rate, and can be launched from improvised platforms, as proven by the Argentines during the Falklands conflict.
    Whilst a major asset such as carrier is normally well-protected by a screen of other ships, it could be very vulnerable when in confined areas, such as the Straits of Hormuz...
    Would the Russian Government be happy to hand-out weapons that could just as easily be used against them? Maybe not.
    It's perhaps more likely that the Iranians will develop increasingly sophisticated weapons themselves. They're already quite well advanced...

  • I seem to recall at least one proposal for the 'arsenal ships' aka ships with lots of missiles towed off the coast, to have been made from converting container ships, after someone looked at the costs and decided purpose built ships were too expensive, before the idea was killed. The idea became to be able to use commercial ships for relatively little cost.

    A few reasons it was killed (at least as any kind of surface ship):
    Put a WHOLE bunch of really expensive munitions on a slow target. With minimal defense

  • Janes is slipping (Score:5, Informative)

    by SlayerofGods (682938) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @05:47AM (#31996594)
    "The idea that you can hide a missile system in a box and drive it around without anyone knowing is pretty new," said Hewson, who is editor of Jane's Air-Launched Weapons.

    "Nobody's ever done that before."
    Most [wikipedia.org] missiles [wikipedia.org] on [wikipedia.org] ships [wikipedia.org] are [wikipedia.org].
    Sure there are some that aren't [wikipedia.org] but most of those are land based where conditions are a little more friendly.
    Sure making it look like a shiping conatiner maybe new, but missiles in boxes is hardly cutting edge stuff.
  • Looks like pretty cool tech. Guessing from the promo video they will make a killing in Second Life. TFA doesn't say how much in Linden Dollars though?
  • by MichaelCrawford (610140) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @05:53AM (#31996618) Homepage Journal
    If you're not too specific about the target, say you just want to hit somewhere in the middle of a large city, it's not too hard to deliver a thousand pounds of high explosives a distance of a few hundred miles.

    It was done with 1940s technology: the V-1 Buzz Bomb.

    Do you know how the V-1 knew it was time to dive down at its target? It had a small propeller at the front, that would spin from the onrushing air. After a certain number of rotations, the engine would be cut off, and it would plummet to the ground to explode.

  • by MichaelCrawford (610140) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @06:00AM (#31996678) Homepage Journal
    Syria has ballistic missiles that can reach anywhere in Israel, that are armed with VX nerve gas. While the Syrians don't have nuclear bombs. a mist of VX at a moderate altitude over an Israeli city might as well be.

    I never, ever read about this in the press, nor do I hear anyone talk about it. But it's not any kind of secret - I found it on some US government disarmament website. My guess is that no one talks about it for fear of making things worse.

    While they (mostly) don't admit it, the Israelis are known to have a few hundred nuclear weapons. No doubt they have hydrogen bombs. While they don't openly test, there was what was thought to be a nuclear test in the ocean off of South Africa a while back. Even if they don't test, Israel has no shortage of smart people, or computers capable of accurate numerical modeling.

    Do you know the song Ninety Nine Red Balloons? The original German was Neun und Neunzig Luft Balon (SP?). I understand it was inspired by a wayward bundle of helium balloons that was mistaken by the Soviets as a missile launch.

    Some people say I'm paranoid. Such people just aren't paying attention.

    • by Nathrael (1251426)

      a mist of VX at a moderate altitude over an Israeli city might as well be.

      I'd say it'd be even worse than a nuclear bomb. Weaponized VX can, if the wind direction is right, can theoretically "cleanse" a small country of any advanced life forms without those pesky side effects such as irradiation preventing a later conquest. Sure, nukes are great bunker busters and their symbolic effect is not to be understated - but if you want to go for true mass destruction, nerve gas is much more effective.

  • by DerekLyons (302214) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [retawriaf]> on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @06:12AM (#31996716) Homepage

    ...is like a cellphone without a charger. It's pretty much useless by itself. You still need the sensors to locate the carrier, which isn't trivial. Especially since carriers don't tend to let just anybody linger in their vicinity. (And I bet 'satellite guided' means nothing more sinister than GPS. Useful for guidance, useless for targeting.)

    Even handwaving those into existence, you still need to deal with the carriers defenses. Even if you manage to get one or two through the defenses (a tall order), they aren't going to destroy the carrier short of carrying nuclear weapons. The best you can hope for is to send it back to the yards for a bit of surgery. Depending on where it hits, you might not even slow down flight operations.

    If you watch the video linked in the summary, you'll note they downplay the massive cloud of toxic exhaust that will be produced with each launch - something few merchies will be rigged to handle.

  • by anarche (1525323) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @06:14AM (#31996728)

    In 1941 a gunship "disguised" as a merchant ship sunk the HMAS Sydney http://www.naa.gov.au/about-us/publications/fact-sheets/fs111.aspx [naa.gov.au]

    Sure this one's a missile, but anyone who thought merchant ships weren't a threat needs to read history.

  • The US Army justcancelled a similar project [armytimes.com] although their version was rather smaller than a shipping container, because in testing it didn't meet some of the requirements (i believe it was the IR seeking mode that was problematic) and because it would have cost ~$200k per missile (it costs ~$500k at the moment).

    Apparently the technology was 90% ready ,though.

    Not sure I like the idea of this. There are too many crazies with access to the kind of money that makes this viable

  • More than that... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by OpenSourced (323149) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @06:32AM (#31996842) Journal

    Quite independently of whether that weapon is vaporware or not, the fact remains that advances in military hardware will end up percolating to the general public, if said public has enough money. What some years away were classified chips nowadays are available off-the-shelf. Guidance software, once leaked, is easy to copy. A disgruntled scientist is all that is needed to transfer loads of tech. Everybody keeps getting better at making things that fly. Look at the advance of the Chinese weaponry in the last years. They simply throw enough money at it, and they got mostly all the tech they needed. In some years, everybody and its dog will have enough firepower to down an aircraft carrier. I've seen posts saying that they should be able to block most missiles. Well, that's all right, except when you are faced with a hundred of them at the same time.

    In a similar note, I'm not altogether sure that the recent move to the "non-nuclear ICBM" is a smart one. People are scared of using nuclear weapons, which is a sound attitude. That leads to treaties of non proliferation and generic agreement on not allowing the aforesaid proliferation. But that doesn't apply to other explosives, even if you are equally dead by a bullet than by a H-bomb. So what is now a cutting-edge technology (nnICBMs), will in ten years perhaps be available to mostly anybody in the world, and there is no non-proliferation treaty to pursue anybody for it.

  • If you are an American and this scares you, then good. War can't be one-sided forever.

  • The music (Score:5, Funny)

    by psnyder (1326089) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @06:37AM (#31996882)
    The choice of music is hilarious!

    "Born Free" during the opening beach scene.
    "Pirates of the Caribbean" during the missile launch.
    And even "Command and Conquer"'s victory music at the very end of the clip.

    At least we know the RIAA/MPAA can send take down notices to get this "arms deal commercial" removed =P
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Opportunist (166417)

      (read with Russian accent)

      Thank you for taking down our video. In response, we will take down your business. Sincerely, your friendly local arms dealer.

      What? You fight with your weapons, we fight with ours.

  • Whose Arms Race ? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Mr Europe (657225) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @07:06AM (#31997076)

    When ever a new type of weapon is developed outside USA it's "a scary new development in the global arms race" but really WHO is the biggest weapon developer with a huge margin ?

    You've seen it in the news: when a US company is developing, let's say, a new material, the first possible solution is for military. Like there wasn't any other problems than security in our world.

    USA has a supremacy in military power. Today's security related threads USA is facing can not be solved with developing new weapons.

  • by Dails (1798748) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @08:44AM (#31997884)

    A few good points have been made (but need a few editions), and some dumb points have been made. Let's run through them:

    1. The SS-N-22 is a hush-hush subject because it basically reduces our carriers to floating targets
    Not the case. Details about the SS-N-22 (commonly called the Sunburn) are unclassified. Every ship in the US navy has tactics to defeat it, though obviously some classes of ships are better at it than others. Actually, the missile in the video behaves nothing like a Sunburn; it appears to have satellite guidance, Over the Horizon (OTH) targeting capability, and a terminal sprint vehicle. Thus, it's closer to an advanced Sizzler missile (SS-N-27) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS-N-27 [wikipedia.org] than a Sunburn.

    2. Somebody mentioned Exocet missiles and their relative effectiveness. Exocet missiles, to the US navy, are kids' stuff. My ship (an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer) is basically armed to the teeth and can shoot one own without so much as a second thought, but even ships built with self-defense as a third priority are in no real danger. Exocet was a threat when they made the movie Top Gun, but not today.

    3. Someone mentioned targeting requirements. This is a good point. If a ship expects to use this in an anti-ship role, it will either have onboard radars for detection and missile control (US is the only navy that has a radar which does both), or receive targeting information from another ship/sub/satellite. In any of these cases, the targeted ship can detect the radar, and any missile control radar it detects is considered a hostile act under international law and triggers the captain's right of self defense (read: he can shoot at you if you point missile control radar at his ship). Also, any merchant ship leaving port with a bunch of innocent container boxes PLUS high-powered missile control radar is, to say the least, suspicious.

    4. Several people mentioned the Phalanx Close In Weapon System (CIWS, pronounced See-Whiz). This is the last resort for most classes of ships. It can only shoot out a few miles, but it's very effective when it does fire. If this system is firing, by the way, then the missile has somehow made it past your three to four other layers of defense, not even counting soft kill options like jamming whatever active radar or semi-active/passive sensor is guiding the missile.

    5. A few people mentioned the ethical issue of arming merchant ships. This is always considered in warplans, from low to very high scale. Bottom line is that it's a dumb idea that will get you one free shot and then cost you your whole merchant fleet.

    6. Ignoring all of that, no matter how effective any weapon system is, at least in a shipboard environment, you only get one free shot. After that free shot it becomes a hot war scenario and every ship captain will change from "ask first, ask again, check three times and only fire when fired upon" to "ask once and if you think he's hostile, shoot." It can even go further to "Check to see if your'e sure he's a friend, and if you can't tell, shoot." At that point the name of the game is ship detection, not missile technology.

    This weapon system doesn't revolutionize warfare at all. Business as usual.

  • by EriktheGreen (660160) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @12:29PM (#32001052) Journal

    I'm sure it's a nice conversation starter for the military types around here, but note that even this nearly information free news article is vague on the status of this "in the concept stage" weapon system. Sure, they're marketing it, but that's how corporations raise money and make themselves look worth investing in, or attract attention to their other products, or just try to stave off the bank closing them down.

    Essentially this article looks like some marketer dreamed up a cool-sounding product, convinced management to make a sales video, and used it to generate some interest in his/her company. Then a clueless reporter grabbed it, looked up potential effects of "cruise missiles", combined it with an out of context quote from someone at Jane's for expert effect, and spewed it out onto the net with a healthy dose of fear mongering about how it could be sold to terrorists.

    Let's review...There's no evidence that such a weapon exists other than marketing drivel. There's no evidence that the company claiming to produce it has the capability to do so. If they do produce it, odds are good it won't meet the "looks good on paper but hard to actually do" marketing goals and be a viable threat to anyone. Once it exists, the Russians are not likely to allow it to be sold any more than most other non US countries with Naval forces.

    So, this article should only generate interest if you A) Accept the premise that a relatively unknown company in Russia can suddenly produce an advanced weapon system like this B) Accept that once produced, the weapon will somehow be more of a threat than existing weapon systems, many of which are probably more advanced and C) Are ignorant enough to think that because the Russian government is not made of Americans that they'll sell weapons which could potentially threaten them to terrorist groups just so they can make the small amount of cash that would provide (a few million dollars... most terrorists aren't rich, although OBL is) and in exchange for which they earn the enmity and political consequences of supplying terrorists.

    It's specifically targeted at sloppy thinking westerners who have a stereotypical view of other world countries. How plausible would the article be if it talked about a smaller American company in eg. California producing the same product? You'd automatically think that terrorists wouldn't get it because the US Military would buy it, or the US Government would prevent export of it, or you'd choose not to believe the hype about it.. after all, with billions of dollars more in funding larger companies haven't produced a missile system superior to existing Exocet and Harpoon series weapons. Yet if the mythical company is placed in Russia, suddenly people swallow this completely... because everyone knows Russians are genius weapon designers who are all desperately poor and willing to sell their products to everyone regardless of who they threaten, with the support and assistance of the corrupt Russian government, right?

    This is NOT NEWS. It's barely even marketing material.

    But enjoy the testosterone pumped discussion of weapons and ships.

What this country needs is a good five dollar plasma weapon.

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