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and on my other favorite national defense topic....

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 31, 2006 2:45 pm    Post subject: and on my other favorite national defense topic.... Reply with quote

i missed this article when it was published (my bolds):
August 28, 2006
Rumsfeld Sees Some Progress in Missile Plan

FORT GREELY, Alaska, Aug. 27 — Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld said here Sunday that while the fledgling United States ballistic missile defense system was becoming more capable, he wanted to see a successful full-scale test before declaring it able to shoot down a ballistic missile.

“I have a lot of confidence in these folks, and I have a lot of confidence in the work that’s been done,” Mr. Rumsfeld said after touring one of the system’s two interceptor sites. But he added that he wanted to see a test “where we actually put all the pieces together; that just hasn’t happened.

Mr. Rumsfeld’s assessment was more cautious than that of the Missile Defense Agency director, Lt. Gen. Henry A. Obering III of the Air Force. General Obering said recently that he was confident the system could have shot down a ballistic missile test-fired July 4 by North Korea, if it had been a live attack aimed at the United States. The two-stage rocket broke up shortly after launching and fell into the Sea of Japan.

The Bush administration has taken the unusual step of deploying the system, which is designed to shoot down a limited number of missiles, before testing is completed and before all the radars and sensors necessary to track incoming missiles are in place. Mr. Rumsfeld repeated Sunday that the system was aimed at protecting against attacks from North Korea and Iran, which he called “rogue states that are intent on developing long-range ballistic missiles.”

The first flight test of the American system in more than a year, involving the firing of an interceptor at a target, is planned for this week, but it is not the sort of full-blown trial Mr. Rumsfeld meant.

The goal this week is to see if sensors in the so-called kill vehicle can recognize an incoming warhead, not to actually hit it
, General Obering said. A test in which the kill vehicle is supposed to hit the target warhead is planned for later this year, he said.

But General Obering said that this week’s test was “about as realistic as you can get” because it employed a target that in its size and speed was representative of missiles that might be fired at the United States.

In the last two flight tests, the system halted the firing sequence before the interceptor missile left its silo. General Obering said those setbacks were due to “minor glitches” in software and workmanship by contractors that had “nothing to do with the functionality of the system.”

Even so, after the second failed test in February 2005, the system was taken down until December.

On his tour of Fort Greely, a remote base 100 miles from Fairbanks, Mr. Rumsfeld climbed down a ladder into an underground silo containing one of the 10 54-foot-long interceptor missiles already deployed. Another of the three-stage missiles is scheduled to be put in the ground on Monday, officials said, and as many as 40 are supposed to be installed by next year. The other interceptor site is at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, where two interceptors are in silos.

Once the sensors detect an incoming missile and the interceptor is launched, it flies 18,635 miles an hour until the kill vehicle separates from its missile and, if it works correctly, flies into the incoming one, destroying it.

The Bush administration is also looking at locations for an interceptor site in Europe that would protect the United States and parts of Europe from missiles launched from the Middle East. The administration is seeking $126 million this year to build the site and the interceptors, which could be in place in four years if Congress provides the money, General Obering said.

Later in the day, Mr. Rumsfeld met in Fairbanks with Sergei Ivanov, the defense minister of Russia, which has long been wary of the American antimissile system, fearing it could be expanded into a more robust shield that would threaten the strategic balance between the United States and Russia.

Mr. Ivanov did not directly criticize the American system, but he called for “transparency” by the Bush administration, a term meant to convey Russia’s concern about any modifications to the system that could take its capabilities beyond stopping a small number of missiles.

this brought it to my attention:
August 31, 2006
Stars in Their Eyes

In a rare moment of candor this week, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld acknowledged that he’s not sure if the United States missile defense system is ready to work. When asked if the shield could protect the United States from a North Korean missile attack, Mr. Rumsfeld said he’d need to see a full test of the system “end to end” before he could answer.

Mr. Rumsfeld, we suspect, may have been trying to lower expectations as the Pentagon prepares for its first significant test of the troubled system in 18 months. But his comments should invite a serious discussion on Capitol Hill about what the country is getting for the nearly $9 billion it is spending this year to develop ballistic missile defenses and the $9 billion it is likely to spend next year.

The once highly public debate over missile defense has gone quiet since President Bush pulled out of the ABM treaty and — as missile defense hawks like to point out — the Russians did not counter with a new arms race.

But talk to Russian and Chinese officials about why they are so relaxed and they will tell you that they don’t believe the technology is anywhere close to working. (As it turns out, the Pentagon is right when it says each failed interception is a learning experience.)

Just in case, Russia’s defense minister, Sergei Ivanov, told Mr. Rumsfeld when they met this week that he’d like more “transparency” about the program, a fine idea for all.

Mr. Rumsfeld got his job in good part by raising alarms about the ballistic missile threat. The 1998 bipartisan commission he headed warned that Iran and North Korea could deploy missiles capable of hitting the United States within five years.

Eight years later, there is no question that both countries are eager to belatedly live up to that prediction. The issue is how fast they’re getting there and whether the Pentagon’s rush to put interceptors into the ground, rather than spend more time at the drawing board, makes sense. North Korea’s most recent test of a long-range missile was, thankfully, a total fizzle.

Stopping a ballistic missile in midflight is a very hard thing to do. So is switching technologies or killing off a bad system when you’ve already sunk billions into hardware. What’s needed here is an honest assessment of whether the current system has any chance of working and how much more will have to be spent before it does.

As the Pentagon prepared to launch a target missile from Alaska and an interceptor from California this week, defense contractors and Pentagon officials were insisting that the goal was not to shoot anything down, just to make sure the “kill vehicle” could find what it was looking for. No matter how that turns out, we’re hoping that Mr. Rumsfeld’s sudden candor about the program starts to catch on.

so, all that time, all that money, a perfectly good treaty unilaterally tossed out the window (and i _still_ want to know if it's legal for bush to do that) (add "no longer care about keeping our word" to the list of problems he's brought on this country) - anyway, all that - and they still don't know if the thing can _find_ an enemy missile - never mind actually destroy it?

and in the meantime, rather than try to talk north korea and iraq out of their programs, we've been alternately ignoring them and threatening them and in short, doing everything we can to convince them they need to push ahead faster.

oh yeah. we are _so_ much safer now.
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 31, 2006 2:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think I've ranted about this before, but it's easily condensed into "The SDI missile shield project does not work and never will."

It's amazing, really, considering that it's the single most expensive line in the Pentagon budget. At least those infamous toilet seats and hammers were perfectly operational toilet seats and hammers. You could use them to sit on, or to hammer nails and shit with. The shield program, though, is tantamount to useless defense-contractor welfare.
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 31, 2006 3:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

it is (in my ever-humble opinion) about the stupidest program ever conceived. its best chances of working have always been against missiles with a nice straight flight-path - i.e., those made by an experienced superpower, not those made by someone just learning how to make missiles. since there no longer is such a superpower, it is yet another outrageiously expensive defense system being maintained even though the enemy it was designed to combat no longer exists. it pisses off our allies (because it doesn't cover them), it doesn't frighten our enemies (because it doesn't work), and it costs an obscene amount of money.

and yeah - it doesn't work, and is unlikely ever to work.

and it undoubtedly will continue to suck up cash for at least another two years.
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 31, 2006 6:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And to think we gave up work on the Superconducting Supercollider because it was simply expensive, not that it wouldn't work and was expensive.
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