Angelo Codevilla: Russia’s S-300 sale exposes America’s lag in missile defense
In my view, the S-300 has significance far beyond Ukraine and political maneuvering. In short, it should remind us of something that the US government has officially pushed to the very back of our national consciousness, namely:
Ballistic missiles are the queens of the modern battlefield, and missile defense is the key to dealing with them. Missile defense is the hallmark of modern military seriousness.The Soviet Union/Russia have taken the lead in providing the best available missile defense for themselves and for those who stand with them.
We do not know which version the S-300 will go to Iran. But the Iranians know why they want the system: they are in the process of building the capacity to strike or threaten with missiles, and expect to be targeted with missiles. Hence they are likely to want the version that offers them missile defense. They may get aircraft- optimized versions AND missile -optimized versions. How good even the best s-300 is for anti missile purposes depends on how remote the external radar cue-ing is, and how well the link functions. In Russia, an excellent perimeter radar network makes the latest S-300 a very potent weapon. What it will be in Iran is yet to be determined. What is beyond doubt, however, is Iran’s seriousness about missile warfare. They are doing what they can do to rise to military seriousness. The S-300’s later versions, even without external cue-ing, will be very good against anything coming from the Sunni world. Israel relies on aircraft.
What is also beyond doubt is the US government’s lack of seriousness about missile warfare. Our missile defense problems are set by the fact hat the US, being remote from sources of attack, can be hit only by the fastest warheads. But that is another subject.