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Hardened aircraft shelter at RAF Bruggen, 1981

A hardened aircraft shelters (HAS) or protective aircraft shelter (PAS) is a reinforced hangar to house and protect military aircraft from enemy attack. Cost considerations and building practicalities limit their use to fighter size aircraft.

Background[edit]

HASs are a passive defence measure (i.e., they limit the effect of an attack, as opposed to active defences; e.g., surface-to-air missiles) which aim to prevent or at least degrade enemy attacks. The widespread adoption of hardened aircraft shelters can be traced back to lessons learned from Operation Focus; in the 1967 Arab-Israeli Six-Day War when the Israeli Air Force destroyed the unprotected Egyptian Air Force, at the time the largest and most advanced air force in the Arab world, at its airbases.

An F-16 being towed into a HAS at Volkel Air Base

As with many military items, whether structures, tanks or aircraft, its most prolific use was during the Cold War. NATO and Warsaw Pact countries built hundreds of HASs across Europe. In this context hardened aircraft shelters were built to protect aircraft from conventional attacks as well as nuclear, chemical and biological strikes. NATO shelters, built to standard designs across the continent, were designed to withstand a direct hit by a 500 lb (226 kg) bomb, or a near miss by a larger one (i.e., 1,000 lb+). In theory HASs were also built to protect aircraft in a nuclear strike; however, the effect of such an attack on airfield taxiways, runways, support facilities and personnel would have made any retaliatory mission extremely difficult and subsequent return and rearming almost impossible.

In the post-cold war era, the value of the HAS concept was further eroded by the introduction of precision-guided munitions. Iraq's HAS hangars were built to a standard somewhat higher than NATO or Warsaw Pact shelters, but nevertheless proved almost useless during the Gulf War. Early attempts to defeat them typically used a "one-two punch" using a TV-guided missile to blast open the doors, followed by bombs tossed in the front. US efforts soon turned to simply dropping a 2,000 lb laser guided bomb on the top, which would easily penetrate the roof and explode within. Although NATO hangars would remain useful against any conceivable attack on Europe in the short term (which would generally lack precision guidance systems), the value of HAS hangars against well-equipped first world air forces is effectively zero.[citation needed]

Advantages[edit]

Inside a PAS, showing a Weapons Storage and Security System vault in raised position holding a B61 nuclear bomb
  • Reduces vulnerability of aircraft to all but the most accurate precision weaponry
  • Combined with active airfield defences increases survivability of defender's aircraft and cost to enemy's forces.
  • An alternative option, dispersal of aircraft to many different bases, reduces the efficiency of aircraft at both squadron and air force level.
  • Nuclear weapons can be stored in the HAS near the aircraft, in a vault; e.g., the United States Air Force Weapons Storage and Security System (WS3).

Disadvantages[edit]

Two reinforced hangars showing the effects of Coalition bombing during Operation Desert Storm, 1991. These Kuwaiti shelters were built by the French and used by Iraqi forces during the conflict. Picture is of Ahmed Al Jaber Air Base - Kuwait.
  • They are in a fixed known position.
  • Hardened shelters are expensive.
  • Hardened shelters are usually too small to easily accommodate large aircraft such as strategic transport aircraft and large surveillance aircraft.
  • Time taken for construction requires forward planning regarding most likely combat zones. If a conflict flares up quickly aircraft may be afforded no protection; e.g., in both the Gulf War and 2003 Iraq War many coalition aircraft had only sun shelters, not hardened facilities.
  • When first developed, the likelihood of a direct hit was minimal. Today, with precision-guided munitions (PGMs) and adequate training, delivering a direct hit on a HAS is trivial. Coalition aircraft destroyed over half of Iraq's HASs during the Gulf War.
  • The German Air Force has conducted tests to establish the effect of humidity inside a shelter on its aircraft's avionics. Results suggested the higher relative humidity has a higher corrosive effect than outside its shelters. Supply of dry air to avionics compartments has decreased corrosion and increased serviceability.[citation needed]

Alternatives[edit]

Deployable shelters
Kevlar lined deployable shelters could protect aircraft from bomblets (a common anti-airfield weapon). However this would provide no protection from PGMs.
Dispersal at bases
Wider dispersal (distance between aircraft) at airfields would decrease the vulnerability of aircraft. This would also force an enemy to increase the number of attacking aircraft greatly, or spend more time over the target. Either way the effect of airfield defences would take a heavy toll on the aggressor. However like HAS, dispersal can be expensive, requiring massive construction of hardstanding. Defense against enemy special forces is also more difficult.
Dispersal between bases
Dispersing aircraft between many bases greatly increases the cost of attacking a given number of aircraft, as measured by the number of attack aircraft required. However, this option similarly increases the defenders' cost of operation and degrades their efficiency.
Dispersal to highway strips
Dispersal of aircraft to highway strips will present the attacker with a multitude of targets which cannot be simultaneously attacked. Survivability is enhanced if the defender also chooses to use mobile tactics, using each highway strip for a limited number of sorties before moving on to another. With penny packets of two to four aircraft at each location, such a tactic increases the difficulty of effective co-ordination, and command and control, it also increases vulnerability to attack from the ground. However with adequate planning these are not insurmountable problems; for example Sweden, one of the main subscribers to the highway strip doctrine, has a special forces unit, the Flygbasjägare, raised especially to counter the threat of attack by enemy special forces.
Underground hangars
Several air forces have used tunnels dug into a mountainside as underground hangars.

See also[edit]



Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hardened_aircraft_shelter — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.
258 videos foundNext > 

Opening the doors of a Hardened Aircraft Shelter (HAS 25) at Wattisham

Part of the Wattisham Airfield Museum. Doors opening on the evening of 2 April 2014. Inside is a McDonnell Douglas Phantom, Hawker Hunter and a cockpit of an...

F-16s night time taxiing into shelter and post-flight inspections and maintenance | AiirSource

Airmen wearing MOPP gear receive F-16s. This video shows them manually taxiing the jets into hardened aircraft shelter and doing post-flight inspections and ...

Bunker Buster

US Bunker buster bomb hitting a aircraft shelter.

KT-1T in hardened aircraft shelter

A Turkish Air Force KT-1T trainer preparing to shut down its engine after arrival in a hardened aircraft shelter.

HAS - Hardened Aircraft Shelter 3D Model

Download HAS - Hardened Aircraft Shelter 3D Model at http://www.3dcb.com/20646.

Airmen receive F-16s, taxiing the jets into hardened aircraft shelter

Airmen manually taxiing the jets into hardened aircraft shelter

Airmen wearing MOPP gear receive F-16s. This B-roll shows them manually taxiing the jets into hardened aircraft shelter and doing post-flight inspections and...

USAF, Alconbury , HAS Test Demolition,

This was demolished in 2000 by a friend while they were testing to see how much explosive would be needed to demolish the HAS (Hard Aircraft Shelters) it has...

Aircraft Return

The Wattisham Station Heritage Museum aircraft are returned to their Hardened Aircraft Shelter. http://www.wattishamstationheritage.org.

Wattisham Station Heritage Museum

Inside the museum you can see an extensive photographic record, artefacts, uniforms, equipment and memorabilia up until the present day. http://wattishamstat...

258 videos foundNext > 

20 news items

IHS Jane's 360

IHS Jane's 360
Wed, 29 Oct 2014 13:15:16 -0700

A B61 bomb is shown here, next to an F-16 fighter, inside a US Air Force Europe hardened aircraft shelter. (USAF). The United States has begun work to upgrade the B61 gravity bomb family under a life extension programme for the ageing nuclear weapon.
 
ITV News
Wed, 29 Oct 2014 11:22:30 -0700

Typhoon aircraft were launched at super-sonic speed this afternoon to intercept a Latvian cargo plane, which was causing concern to air traffic control, the RAF said. The aircraft was escorted to Stansted Airport and has since been cleared to continue ...

World Tribune

World Tribune
Thu, 20 Nov 2014 10:45:00 -0800

Officers said the base would also contain hardened aircraft shelter to withstand an enemy attack. Israel has ordered 19 F-35As in a deal estimated at $2.7 million. The air force has sought to acquire another 31 fifth-generation fighter-jets from ...

IsraelDefense

IsraelDefense
Sat, 01 Mar 2014 07:45:00 -0800

The hardened aircraft shelter No.52 at Tel-Nof airbase houses a forty year-old F-15 fighter. It carries a rare insignia for the Israeli Air Force of 2014: five red circles, denoting five kills – five enemy aircraft shot down. "This aircraft shot down ...

Daily Mail

Daily Mail
Thu, 06 Jun 2013 13:28:35 -0700

Behind the scenes: A Typhoon FGR4 on display in a hardened aircraft shelter with its weapons. The plane has a top speed of 1,320mph. Enlarge. Cross-section: This detailed diagram shows the inner workings of the Typhoon aircraft - which is being ...
 
Business Insider
Tue, 26 Feb 2013 11:20:15 -0800

The Lockheed F-117A was not only the world's first operational stealth aircraft, but also one of the most secret planes ever developed. Conceived for secret night missions, the “Nighthawk” was restricted to fly only in darkness. In fact, in each ...
 
Gizmag
Wed, 03 Oct 2012 12:11:39 -0700

A 1,000 mph (Mach 1.4, 1,600 km/h) car came a step closer to reality today when the BLOODHOUND SSC team successfully test fired the vehicle's rocket motor system. Conducted in a hardened aircraft shelter originally designed to house Tornado fighters at ...
 
Wired (blog)
Wed, 12 Sep 2012 12:30:00 -0700

A Predator drone waits in a hardened aircraft shelter in Iraq between missions during the now-ended Iraq war. Photo: U.S. Air Force. The skies over Libya were clogged with U.S. Predator drones during last year's war. But just because the war officially ...
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