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back to article Pentagon claims missile-defence success

The Pentagon's Missile Defence Agency (MDA) has announced a successful test of its ICBM-nobbling space interceptor system. In a release (pdf) on Friday, the military missile-busters said "indications are that the rocket motor system and kill vehicle performed as designed". In the trial last week, a "threat representative …

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Silver badge

But isnt it only good if:

Isnt it only good if someone on N Korea is silly enough to broadcast the launch site, target and time of launch, right?

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RE: Chad

Not at all. There are so many sensor platforms in and around N. Korea, that USFK (United States Forces Korea) forces would detect and immediately track a missle the second it was launched. Within minutes of launch, I guarantee we'd have projected flight paths and vectors; and the MDA would be alerted as well.

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Anonymous Coward

But isnt it only good if:

Obviously the Koreans have to play by the rules.

In order to do this we propose that we first teach them to play cricket, then when they have learned to play like gentlemen they will see the benefits of have a properly scheduled war - with breaks for tea and bad light.

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But...

It's no defense at all against those shifty Canadians.

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Beyond understanding

We have a successful ground based laser system able to take out high speed tank shells, yet we still insist on throwing rocks at missiles. Only in the US...

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Great shot kid, that was one in a million

The thing is, the missle shield has to be lucky every time - an attacking nation only has to be lucky once.

Carry out this test 1000 times in bad weather without giving the intercept systems more than a few minutes and get a 100% hit score and I'll start to feel a little safer.

p.s. Note the phrase 'indications are' - this means they haven't shown conclusively that the thing worked yet.

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Anonymous Coward

Scattering

Lets say, for instance, that one wants to blanket the US with some toxic chemical or biological agent, or even nuclear fallout (it doesn't have to kill, just scare).

1: Take your normal ICBM.

2: Where the warhead normally lives, fill it with above agent.

3: Launch.

4: Point and laugh when it gets shot down.

5: Bail me out of Gitmo. I hear black helicopters.

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Mini-me, stop humping the Laser!

Lasers don't work through clouds. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/30/world/middleeast/30laser.html

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Tests

Oh, I'm sure their "tests" were successful". You should see the movie The Pentagon Wars, if you havent already, or read the book with the same name. That's how they do tests in the Pentagon...

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Anonymous Coward

Personally I will take it

Trusting Iran and N Korea to be deterred given their actions and statements so far doesnt make me want this system any less. While Kim Jong is lobbing missiles towards Japan and California or while Iran is saying they are going to 'somehow' wipe entire countries off the map. I will take my chances with a fly swatter versus having nothing at all. It is at least one item my taxes are paying for that might someday prove useful to me or my children! It will be ironic if the very people opposed to this in the liberal state of California are someday protected by a missile happy madman.

Not that it will matter, they will still find someway even 20 years from now to blame Bush for it!

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how to plan...

Re: warning: The maximum warning of an ICBM attack is about 20 minutes, assuming instantaneous detection of launch and a minimum energy trajectory. Enemies with experience in booster design can probably reduce the maximum warning to about 5 minutes. The defense system has to acquire the target, compute its trajectory, and launch the anti-ballistic missile within that window. For mid-course interception, cut those times at least in half. But the BMD guys know that. It's not a secret.

Re: getting lucky: The enemy can't just assume they will get lucky, just as the defenders can't assume they will be lucky every time. If the US deploys a BMD, putative bad guys like Russia and China have to spend big money to overwhelm the defense, or pretty much give up on being the nuclear aggressor. For less capable enemies, like N.Korea, if they can only build a couple warheads, they might as well not bother.

Re: reality: Of course, the Russkies could hold western europe hostage, and the North Koreans could threaten Japan. Or they could inexpensively build a fleet of ICBMs that look like truck trailers full of Mexican produce, or shipping containers. Yeah, a ground-burst in San Diego harbor would be less devastating that an air burst at 22,000 feet, but it will still ruin your whole day pretty much anywhere in the city. The truck-mounted A-bomb also has the advantage that it doesn't advertise its point of origin like an ICBM does. That lets you take the credit if you want to, or lie low until you guage the reaction.

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Anonymous Coward

No mappable trajectories

Don’t forget that Russia announced about a year ago that they had a new missile guidance system that made it so a missile didn’t follow a mappable trajectory. Since their DOD said that they doubted they would ever be able to hit one of them how long before the little guys add some smarts to their guidance systems so that their missiles dance through the skies to their targets. This is something I’d wager Iran is working on so that Israel’s missile defense system would be worthless. Who needs nukes if you can bomb your enemy to bits with conventional weapons?

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The Irony of it all

The irony of it all , is the weapon is a total waste of money , and a pointless exercise in futility !

Go ask W.O.P.R. !

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Anonymous Coward

@Personally I will take it

"While Kim Jong is lobbing missiles towards Japan and California"

Yes, hit his non existent missile with your non existent airborne ray gun. Instead of attacking real threats with stuff that works. It's the American way!

"or while Iran is saying they are going to 'somehow' wipe entire countries off the map."

With an eraser, even you point out they don't have the ability to really wipe countries off the map.

"I will take my chances with a fly swatter versus having nothing at all. It is at least one item my taxes are paying for that might someday prove useful to me or my children! It will be ironic if the very people opposed to this in the liberal state of California are someday protected by a missile happy madman."

I'm sure if a missile happy madman doesn't exist, you'll make one up, just to explain to your grandchildren how you left them $200k in your debts defending against stuff you just made up. They'll appreciate that when they can't afford food or housing or medical care I'm sure.

Hey, but Reagan had star wars, and he was popular, so Bush must have star wars to become popular. The star wars ray gun people can laugh all the way to the bank, and try again in 20 years when the next dipshit leader doesn't understand why ray guns can never do better than lightning in the atmosphere.

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Anonymous Coward

Engineering

Yep the these sort of counter measures are bloody useless. But the engineering and technical accomplishment of two objects hitting each other at those sort of relative speeds is not to be under sold.

I can imagine this sort of work could be useful in a number of real applications.

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Anonymous Coward

The world has changed!

Or so Bush keeps telling us. They've spent the last five years telling us how we face a "new kind of threat" to get us to shut up and behave. Now the vital part of the defence against this new threat is...

...a money-pit of a missile system that will protect against weapons that the new enemy doesn't possess and that the old enemy has dumped as obsolete.

It could only happen in government.

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Anonymous Coward

Star wars technology

"Hey, but Reagan had star wars, and he was popular, so Bush must have star wars to become popular."

The joke is that Reagan never spent a single dollar on star wars, it was just a bluff to get the soviet union to collapse. He knew this since it was the idea of his sci-fi writer friends. It worked. Now the problem is that the young Bush really belives that this will work and actually tries to build it.

"But the engineering and technical accomplishment of two objects hitting each other at those sort of relative speeds is not to be under sold."

Any old chinese miliary missile could do it and they even tested it with 100% accuracy. (with one hit from one try)

Anyway, who needs icbms to bomb the usa? You could ship a nuclear bomb in a cargo container or just put it in orbit and deorbit it when needed. Both russia and china can do it. The sojuz/shenzhou space ship is just a modified icbm that can reach orbit and control it's movements. The progress cargo version can even do it without human interaction and hit a relatively small target (the docking ring on a station). The russians could even bomb the moon with it. (the 4 stage version could reach the moon, altough it can't come back)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Star wars technology

So you've just said that the technology you were quite happy to spend your taxes on earlier is useless. If you're quite happy to live in a paranoid world where everyone wants to kill you, no doubt it will make you feel immensely safer when they start shooting Arabs on sight (which of course isn't a problem because they don't have rights as enemy combatants). In fact you've probably already happily forgotten, in a bid to make the Middle Eastern wars as justifiable as possible, the Basque terrorists, IRA and DDR groups which plagued the world in the 80s.

Of course, being a hypocrite is part of the job description to justify illegal wars, talking about missile-happy madmen, how about the innocent Iraqis who have died to American armaments? Let's not even start on the people who have died in Afghanistan, or, of course, the South Americans who have died from US funded terrorism in the last 60 years.

People like you, who believe everytime that Fox tells you Iran is going to attack, are the sort of people that make everyone else hate America, fearmongering about your own national security and calling whoever you want to a dictator, while allies like Israel pound Palestinian civillians with missiles, and American soldiers kill allied soldiers and civillians in countries in the Middle East, conveniently missing dictators in Africa. And all the time your commander in chief makes the people like you smug, as he calls anyone who exercises their First Amendment rights unpatriotic.

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AV

Anonymous Vulture, are you for real? You post, then comment on your own posts, then comment on those comments? Seriously, this must be easily one of the longest conversations between one person that I have seen in ages. I thought I was a little odd talking to mayself, but at least I don't answer myself back.

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Walk>Run

Gotta learn to walk before you can run. Gotta be able to hit a basic ICBM, sans whilstles and bells, before you can consider hitting swarms of them, or small groups with decoys. This is only a first, unsteady, step - Running can come later, once the ability to nail single targets is mastered.

Oh, and we're already seeing a defense-in-depth planned (and even deployable in in some aspects), so I wouldn't be too worried about the exo-atmostpheric intercepters being the only goal keeper.

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Silver badge

Defence?

Defence may be one of the reasons for son of star wars but I doubt it is the main reason just as Iraq and bin Laden are only secondary to the war on terror. what it is really all about is money, money for defence contractors. The worst thing ever to happen to a large chunk of US industry was the end of the cold war so new threats had to be recognised and if too small, hyped and spun into something to justify GW giving healthy research grants and contracts to his buddies. Son of star wars doesn't have to work, it just has to keep defence contractors in lucrative business and indications definately are good.

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