Monday, July 24, 2006

No More Mister Nice Guy

The Foreign Office has been the architect of every Brit appeasement – from Munich to the surrender of Northern Ireland to the IRA, so are now shilling for Hezbollah. I hope the Israelis get the message that whatever they do, the whiners will attack them, so they should stop being Mister Nice Guy.

…Kim Howells, a Foreign Office minister, speaking in Beirut, accused Israel of using disproportionate force and destroying Lebanon. He returned to the theme yesterday after visiting Haifa.

"I am very disturbed the more I hear about the extent of this campaign," he said. "At some stages there are 60 jets out there over the Mediterranean waiting to hit targets."

The 60 loitering planes actually prove the Israelis are being careful, not “disproportionate”.

Hezbollah is firing rockets from villages in Southern Lebanon. As you’d expect, they keep the launcher hidden and at the last minute run it out and fire off a volley. Here’s what they look like:

Katyusha launcher in the crosshairs of an air force jet moments before its destruction.
Photo: IDF

This one was destroyed before launch, but before that could happen, it had to be detected, and Israelis planes have two ways of doing that.

The first is pre-launch, using space and plane based optical, IR and radar scanners that feed pattern recognition systems looking for launchers. These are advanced versions of the cameras that read your number plate on Brit roads. The Israelis will have set their system to minimize false positives - for example mistakenly flagging a drilling rig, as happened a few days back. But low false positives means high false negatives – real launchers being flagged as non-threats. Those lucky terrorists get to launch.

That’s where the next technology comes in – launch detection. This is easy, since Katyusha rockets burn brightly and have characteristic light spectra, called signatures.

On a real battlefield – say a Polish invasion of Germany (kidding!) - a launch signature immediately triggers the destruction of the launcher. But Hezbollah is smart and launches from civilian areas – next to schools, mosques and the middle of villages. So, once they’ve detected a launch, the Israelis have to assess likely collateral damage from a counter strike. That means people sitting at screens back at HQ assessing the population in the launch area. I’m guessing this takes several minutes, giving the terrorists time to move the launcher.

That’s why 60 planes are loitering over the Med and why rockets are getting through to kill Israelis. If the Israelis really wanted to take down the Lebanese, they would have finished the job already, flying directly to their targets and shooting weapons on detecting launch signature. No loitering planes.

Of course the Brit FO knows all this, but once an appeaser, always an appeaser.

My advice to the Israelis is to fire on launch signature – the Brit FO proves they’ll never placate their enemies by being nice guys, and saving Israeli lives is their absolute priority.