Created: 11/17/1967

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible

The Threat of the Guided-Missile Patrol Boat

Special Report




7 SC


The first operational use of surface-to-surface antiship missiles took place on7 when Egyptian guided-raissile patrol boats sank thedestroyer Ellat off Port Said. Launched from osa- and Rooar-class patrol boats,iSBilaeig punch at low unit cost to fledgling navies charged with defendinq coastal areas.

These boats are used by the Soviet ond Eastnavies for close-in defense against attacking naval forces. They have been delivered to four non-Communist countries as well as to Cuba, Conmunist China, and North Korea. There is no evidence that North Vietnam has received any.

Attack on the Eilat

At the time it was attacked, the Eilat was patrolling off the Egyptian coast to prevent maritime infiltration of the Sinai. ships have regularly patrolled within range ofweapons since the war in June, and the Eilat previously had passed through the area of attack several tiaes. When it was struck, the Ellat probably was either Just inside or Just outsidemile territorial limit claimed by Egypt.

The Israelis were on alertissile attack, and the crew of the Eilat knew it was being watched by land-basedradars. The Eilat's crew

did not see any missile patrol boats, however, and did not realize their ship was underuntil the first of three or more missiles fired by thewas sightedange of about six mllea. Attempts to shoot down the missile before it struck were unsuccessful.

The Israeli destroyera second missile hit within minutes. Disabled and without power, the Eilat floated dead in the water for nearly two hours while the crew fought to save it.econd attack, in which the Eilat was struck by at least one other missile, the ship sank.

The Eilat probably wasby two Konar-class aissile



rs (S)

each of which fired

arget has beenand identified,data can be computedmatter of seconds and theboat turned to an

There is no evidence that Soviet advisers in Egyptin the attack.

Theissile System

issile is effectiveruiserange ofiles andestroyer atange greater than that of the guns on ships of the US Navy. In practice, the system normally is usedange of only aboutiles against etarget.

ystem (Soviets designed to provide mobile defense against attacking naval forces. In the Soviet concept ofaircraft or other ship* are used to locate tho target and to direct tho attacking patrol boats until thuy can pick up the target on their own radars; the detection range of the radar carried on the osa and Komar boats is United by the height of tho radar antenna to aboutiluti.

The radar aboard the boats is used to locate the target, provide firing data to thend assess damage after an attack. The effective range of the system probably could be ex tended--and the element of surprise enhanced--through the useoastal radar totarget detection anddata. For maximum effect, however, the missile must ba aimed and fired on tho basis of data provided either by the ship-borne radar or by ansystem carried on the patrol boats.


Yrs IS)

After the necessaryhas been fed into theguidanceocket booster lifts it from ito launcher and carries it to cruise altitude and speed. The missile fliesthe targetpeed ofnd an altitudeeet. Because of tho low altitude and high speed, defending forces have onlyinute to react.

The Komar-clasapatrol boat is smaller than the Osa and carries only two odification oforpedo boat, ithorter cruising rangepeed ofnots.

The small sizes and low profiles of the Oeas and Komars provide difficult targets for enemy radars. The boats rely on their speed and maneuverability to evade attacks by enemy surface forces. They carry antiaircraft weapons but are vulnerable toattack.


The Patrol Boats

The Ose-class guided-missile patrol boat was designedto launch the Each Osa carries fourin covered launchers. oot draft and speed ofnots gives the boat greatin operating fromcoves, from which it can attack ships an far awayiles. The Osa boats, withons, probably are capable of launching their missiles in fairly heavy seas and in winds up tonots.

The success of the attack against the well-trained crew of the Eilet demonstrates theof the Osas and Komars tourprise strike with the. The best defense against the system is to attack tho patrol boats before they fire their missiles. Tho missile's speed, low flight altitude, small radar cross-section, and built-in defense against electronic countcmeasures make it difficult to counter.

The system, nevertheless, has limitations. Targets closer than five miles cannot be engaged because theoming and arming mechanisms are not activated

Guided Missile Patrol Boats



China )







8 (on order)



crated KOMARs on deck of Soviet cargo ship.


until the missile has flown that far. Moreover, if two targets are detected, the homing radar cannot be relied upon to seek out the preferred one. The homing radar also may beto some types of electronic countermeasures.

likely to be delivered. Osas and Komars also have been furnishedumber of Communist countries Including China. Osa boats give the East German and Polish navies considerable firepower in the Baltic.

apparently cannot be made if the air temperature falls belowF or rises aboveF. inal shortcoming of the system is that targets within four miles of shore cannot befrom their seaward side, because "clutter" reflected by the terrain prevents the homing radar from operating properly. In such cases, the attacking patrol boat has to maneuver to fire parallel to or away from the beach.


Both boatsledglingig punchow unit cost. The first deliveries of Komars outside Eastern Europe and the Communist Far East were made to Cuba and Egypt Komars subsequently have been delivered to Algeria, Syria, and Indonesia. Eight are on order for Iraq. Osas have been delivered toand Egypt. Four that had been ordered by Sukarno before the abortive Communist coup in Indonesia in5 are not

There is no evidence that either type of boat or theissile has been delivered to North Vietnam. Chinese Osa boats have been seen in the South China Sea and could be deployed to naval bases on Hainan Island or in the Tonkin Gulf area. If either the Soviets or the Chinese were tothese units to the North Vietnamese, US ships operating off the North Vietnamese coast would be vulnerable to sneak The boats could boamong the many islands and waterways marking tho Vietnamese coastline and would be difficult to detect if thoy moved within groups of junks and other small craft. At anchor or tied up in harbors, the Osas and Komars would be susceptible to detection and destruction by US aircraft, however.

With minor modificationmissile can be firedon land. Theare not known tothis missile in Sites.

Original document.

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic: