2S9 image

The Nona is vulnerable to the Warthog, but it has gained this reputation in rural areas; in cities it can duck and dodge behind buildings and holds little fear of the Warthog, which dives at only 30° and typically cannot fire over the buildings on one side of a street to hit a vehicle driving on the opposite sidewalk. A fearsome weapon in the countryside, the Warthog is mostly useless over dense cities with many tall and tightly packed buildings.

The greatest fear of the Nona driver is the AC-130, which he cannot dodge as easily as the Warthog. However, the AC-130 is vulnerable to the SA-7; on 31 January 1991 an AC-130 was shot down with a single SA-7 missile in Iraq. The only reason that we have not lost more AC-130s in this way is because the SA-7 requires considerable skill to operate and we tend to fight peasants who do not have adequate training. But this is not what we will find in Iran, where we can expect every Nona to be accompanied by a well-trained SA-7 team.

There is also the Predator drone which, being propeller-driven, is mostly invisible to heat-seeking missiles such as the SA-7. But it is expensive, unreliable in inclement weather and only carries two Hellfire missiles, enough for assassination missions but not for sustained combat. While great for whacking the occasional terrorist that we manage to locate holding a meeting in a chicken coop, the weapon system is not really designed for besieging a modern industrial city.

Conclusion: None of the three airplanes considered are effective for sustained combat over dense cities with tall and tightly packed buildings and well-trained SA-7 teams. The U.S. Army would be better served by a modern self-propelled mortar such as the AMOS. The 60mm is inaccurate because the base plate bounces off the asphalt and the 120mm digs itself into asphalt allowing the mortar crew to get outflanked, so the solution must be a self-propelled mortar with at least enough armor to deflect sniper fire and shell fragments, which a dismounted mortar team is vulnerable to. Some people would point to the M125, but this is an antique that can be destroyed by every Russian vehicle in the field and even by sustained Kord machine gun fire. Also, cutting the roof off exposes the mortar crew to sniper fire from above; in a word, it is worthless. Note.

2S9 image

Imagine that perennial enemies Japan and China go at it. The Chinese put thousands of Nonas and Shilkas in the streets of Tokyo and the Japanese attempt to destroy them with U.S. supplied Warthogs overhead and Dragon missiles fired from the windows. Who would win?

Sniper Flash Cards Poll
In the fight over Tokyo, who would win?
The Japanese, using A-10 Warthogs and Dragon missiles.

The Chinese, using ZSU-23-4 Shilkas and 2S9 Nonas.


Note that this question refers only to the weapon systems described, not to larger political/strategic questions or to the possibility of retaliatory strikes inside China.

Iraqi self-propelled mortar

The Iraqis have a self-propelled mortar! But America, the self-described "most powerful army in the world," lacks this basic tool. An army without a self-propelled mortar is like a mathematician without a calculator.