Plastic and wooden debris – Russian Lancet may have hit fake IRIS-T

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On August 1, Russia asserted that its Armed Forces had successfully neutralized the IRIS-T SLM air defense system near Kherson. A video accompanied this claim, showcasing the Lancet-3 kamikaze drone annihilating an object resembling the IRIS-T SLM. However, the claim quickly drew skepticism from Western media, with numerous military bloggers suggesting that the destroyed object was merely a decoy. 

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In response to these doubts, Russia unveiled a series of high-definition images that military correspondents presented as evidence to refute the allegations of fakery. Following the release of these images, some analysts proposed that the object in question was an unloaded replica of the IRIS-T system. According to this perspective, the replica was indeed damaged during the attack, but the warhead remained unexploded. 

Currently, it remains unfeasible to independently confirm whether Russia did indeed succeed in destroying a real IRIS-T air defense system. Some foreign experts are inclined to label the episode as staged, basing their assumptions on the fact that the resulting blast wave seemingly propelled numerous plastic or wooden items into the air, which suggests the possibility of a replica being targeted.

There should be no wood and plastic

Claims by some analysts that the low shock wave and the wood and plastic debris may indeed be strong and valid evidence that the Russian drone most likely hit a false target. Plastic is not a common material in the IRIS-T frame. The wooden debris too.

Photo credit: Telegram

One of the most commonly used materials in the construction of the IRIS-T air defense system is aluminum. This lightweight and durable metal is used in the construction of the missile body, fins, and other components.

Another commonly used material in the construction of the IRIS-T air defense system is titanium. This strong and lightweight metal is used in the construction of critical components such as the rocket motor and the warhead.

The launcher of the IRIS-T air defense system is typically made of steel or aluminum. These materials are chosen for their strength and durability, as well as their ability to withstand the high stresses and temperatures generated during launch.

In addition to these materials, the IRIS-T air defense system also incorporates advanced composites and other high-tech materials to ensure its effectiveness and reliability in a wide range of operational environments.

What is IRIS-T?

Photo credit: Kongsberg

The German IRIS-T (InfraRed Imaging System Tail/Thrust Vector-Controlled) is a short-range air defense system designed to intercept and destroy airborne threats such as aircraft, helicopters, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). It is a highly maneuverable missile that can operate in all weather conditions and can engage targets at close range as well as at longer ranges of up to 25 km. IRIS-T is a fire-and-forget missile, meaning that once it is launched, it does not require any further guidance from the operator.

This missile is equipped with an imaging infrared seeker that allows it to detect and track targets based on their heat signature. The IRIS-T missile’s thrust vector control system enables it to perform high-G maneuvers, making it difficult for the target to evade. The missile is also equipped with a proximity fuse that detonates the warhead when it comes close enough to the target, increasing the probability of a successful kill.

This air defense system is designed to be integrated into a larger air defense network, such as the German Air Force’s Integrated Air Defense System (IADS). The system can be deployed on a variety of platforms, including ground-based launchers, naval vessels, and aircraft. The IRIS-T missile is also compatible with a range of launchers, including the Patriot launcher, making it a versatile and flexible air defense system.

IRIS-T numbers

Photo credit: Wikipedia

The technical characteristics of the IRIS-T missile include a length of 3.2 meters, a diameter of 0.16 meters, and a weight of 87 kg. IRIS-T has a range of up to 25 km and can reach speeds of up to Mach 3. The missile’s warhead is a high-explosive fragmentation type, with a weight of 11 kg. The missile’s guidance system is based on an imaging infrared seeker, and it has a proximity fuse for detonation. The IRIS-T’s thrust vector control system enables it to perform high-G maneuvers, making it highly maneuverable and difficult to evade.

The Art of Deception

Decoys, whether they are crafted from wood or inflated from plastic, are a fascinating and time-honored tool of military strategy. Consider the case of a Czech company nestled in the city of Decin. The Czech Republic has been a steadfast provider of military aid to Ukraine, and Decin hosts a factory specializing in the manufacture of inflatable decoys. A recent local television report uncovers fascinating insights into the production process and also sheds light on the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. The Decin-based company is renowned for producing rubber decoys of the HIMARS rocket system. 

Video Screenshot

As per Mr. Vojtech Fresser, who offered his insights during an interview, the company he is associated with can churn out up to 35 inflatable HIMARS every month. However, he remained tight-lipped about the proportion of these decoys that are shipped off to Ukraine, citing it as a military secret. 

Nevertheless, Mr. Fresser added, “We can make an educated guess from publicly available sources. They claim, for instance, that the Russians have destroyed 140% more HIMARS systems than were dispatched to Ukraine. It’s not a stretch to infer that the excess 40% were likely decoys. And if these decoys were effective enough to be destroyed, it’s reasonable to assume that they originated from Decin. From our factory,” he concluded.


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