Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses

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AGM-45 Shrike to suppress enemy air defenses

Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses ( SEAD ; German suppression of enemy air defense ) is a certain type of military use. In this case, preferably at the beginning of a war or an operation, the opposing air defense is weakened to such an extent that it can no longer pose a threat to subsequent bombers . In addition to disrupting radars ("soft kill"), which is more likely to be used in reconnaissance flights, this is achieved primarily by bombing the air defense system ("hard kill").

Basically, a distinction must be made between attacks on radar stations and attacks on air defense positions . While the former mainly uses special anti-radar missiles, for example the American AGM-88 HARM , which directly approach and destroy a radar source, cluster bombs can be used effectively in the SAM positions, which are often distributed over a large area, as the individual rocket launchers are relatively weakly armored. Ultimately, however, any type of ammunition can be used for SEAD tasks if it is used against corresponding targets.

Within NATO , SEAD missions should primarily be carried out by tactical fighters such as the F-16 Fighting Falcon and the F-4 Phantom . Since the Vietnam War , the aircraft have been specially equipped for such tasks and received the nickname Wild Weasel . In the Soviet doctrine, modified MiG-25 or Tupolev Tu-22M heavy bombers were provided for SEAD .

SEAD aircraft

United States


SEAD guided missiles

United States


Soviet Union / Russia