back to article Anti-missile missile misses again, US military mum on meaning of mess

Demonstrating again that anti-missile missiles work best under carefully controlled circumstances, a test of such a weapon fired from Hawaii has missed its target. The US$30 million test was fired from the Kauai Aegis Ashore site in Hawaii. It was supposed to see a SM-3 Block IIA anti-missile missile intercept a target …

Anonymous Coward

I give it about a week

And it will show up on Ebay.

"Drone, lightly used. Buyer must collect."

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Re: I give it about a week

As an avid viewer of crappy old cars on eBay, I can also put money on the fact it would have it's reg plate hidden or blanked out so you can't check the MOT history of it.

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Pirate

Re: AC

"1 Previous owner"

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Coat

Re: I give it about a week

Wait, so with a number plate, you can then look up MOT history? Can anyone do that or do you need some special access somewhere?

>>>> Mines the one with a list of advisories a mile long hanging out of the pocket

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Re: I give it about a week

You do need internet access...

https://www.gov.uk/check-mot-history

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Re: I give it about a week

"Wait, so with a number plate, you can then look up MOT history? Can anyone do that or do you need some special access somewhere?

>>>> Mines the one with a list of advisories a mile long hanging out of the pocket"

You just need the registration. You used to need the make and model but they've simplified it.

I would only worry about it if you have someone who knows about cars come round and look at your car. Otherwise, if you didn't know about it, chances are the buyer doesn't know either.

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Re: I give it about a week

""Drone, lightly used. Buyer must collect."

Ordered drone, got used, water damaged rocket instead. 1 star. Won't buy from this seller again.

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Re: I give it about a week

Bought from Amazon, have successfully used this "drone" as first stage in ISS re-supply mission, YMMV.

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Re: I give it about a week

Thanks for that, you learn something new every day.

Fortunately there's no chance of me ever selling my car, given that it's now worth the quantity of fuel in the tank.

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Marco

" The MDA had better luck in May 2017, trumpeting a successful testagainst an ICBM-class target – but the target made it easier by sending back tracking data."

The seeker kept shouting "Marco" and the target could not resist. #DoesNotCount

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Re: Marco

#DoesNotCount

Concur. It is pretty clear that in this area USA is about a decade behind Israel (despite Israel literally giving Raytheon cheat sheets) and probably around 5 years behind Russia.

If memory serves me right the Russian's last years tests of the new A-135 were successful. Not that their system is usable - it is a case of "cure worse than the disease" as it uses 10kt nuke warhead. That was OK when the first generation was designed in the late 60-es. It is definitely not OK in a world full of electronics (*).

In either case - both the Aegis and the A135 are white elephants. What would be really interesting to see is what is the real capabilities for the most recent crop of "normal" AA for ICBM interception (f.e. S400 or its closest NATO equivalents). That can be deployed in quantity, something which you simply cannot afford with the MDA and it is not allowed by treaties for the A135.

(*)They apparently intend to switch to conventional warheads on that within the next 2-3 years.

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Re: Marco

Concur. It is pretty clear that in this area USA is about a decade behind Israel

What are the success rates of Israeli anti-missile tests, and how do the test targets differ from US testing?

The US had some rough starts with THAAD in the 1990s (4 of 11 tests were successes), but in the 2000s-2010s it was successful in 13 of 17 tests (and the other 4 were aborts or cancelled, not operational failures.) The latest test gave the THAAD crew no schedule for the target launch and, as far as I've read, the target wasn't helping THAAD with telemetry.

The SM-3 has also hit 16 of 19 targets in the 2002-2010 period, and 26 successful tests by 2013. While some of the tests are simplified, others successfully engaged targets with separating warheads, and the Russians were grumping in 2016 that the SM-3 could intercept IRBMs (admittedly: not ICBMs) before warhead separation.

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Re: Marco

The SM-3 has also hit 16 of 19 targets in the 2002-2010 period

From the Unreliable Source's page on anti-satellite weapons:

February 21, 2008, the U.S. Navy destroyed the malfunctioning U.S. spy satellite USA-193 using a ship-fired RIM-161 Standard Missile 3.

Was that included in the 16?

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Re: Marco

Voland's Right Hand,

This is a normal deployable AA missile. This was a test of the SM3, as deployed by the US and Japan on their Aegis equipped destroyers and (US) cruisers. The test in Hawaii was on a shore-based version of it, instead of ship-based, but it's basically the same system.

I don't know the details of the test, but the Aegis is tasked to do 2 different jobs. Japan and the US deploy them off the coast of North Korea in order to intercept missiles in their take-off phase. That should be relatively easy, as they're bigger targets, going slower. But obviously that means opening fire on a missile launch that might only be a test.

This test was against something incoming, and air launched. Obviously we don't know if it was simulating a missile still in space in its coast phase, or an incoming warhead. So we don't know what they failed to do.

Israel's system is designed to deal with smaller incoming missiles and mortars. It has a very limited area of defence, and mostly doesn't engage targets that are expected to fall outside residential areas. But it's not an ABM system - and is dealing with much slower targets at lower altitudes.

As I understand the US system they've got 3 components. Aegis ships at sea, to shoot at Nork missiles as they go up. Aegis on land stations designed to intercept warheads in space at the mid-course stage. Then THAAD (terminal high altitude area defence), which is the anti ICBM warhead system that's probably not all that wonderful, but has worked in some tests. It's designed to be the last line of defence against incoming warheads and I think is only deployed in Alaska, with some interceptors promised to South Korea. Nothing can stop a saturation attack, but North Korea don't hae that many warheads, and even fewer missiles.

So what they've done is to build a layered defence of imperfect technologies to deal with the lower threat of Iran and North Korea, who they felt less able to deter with mutually assured destruction - while also working on the diplomatic channel to try and get those countries to cease their nuclear programs.

While you can't say that's a perfect policy, it's broadly worked with Iran, and at least means they've got some hope of dealing with a few missiles if the North Koreans prove capable of producing any, and decide to use them.

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Re: Marco

Was that included in the 16?

No, I think my numbers were for controlled tests only and excluded the USA-193 shoot down.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Marco

Israel's success is from getting people in the target area into shelters before the rockets can land. The useful intercept rate is near zero - the rockets and mortars continue on the same path as they were on to begin with and land where they were going to land anyway. The Iron Dome interceptors could be eliminated without change in success rate.

Even their anti-RPG tech already has a defeat in place that fires a primary false target a few milliseconds ahead of the warhead round. Since the system cannot distinguish the dual launch from a single launch, it cannot ignore the first projectile and has to intercept that, allowing the actual warhead to come through.

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Anonymous Coward

Kim Jong-un

must be laughing his arse off right now.

Still I'm sure the OrangeOne will be sending an angry tweet out to him, telling him to stop being a naughty boy.

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Re: Kim Jong-un

These two are beginning to remind me of two grade school (not sure of the GB equivalent) lads shouting taunts and waving their willies at each other across the school playground. The scary part is that school kids don't normally have nukes, only rocks, mudballs and the like.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Kim Jong-un

I think it more of the bully has picked on the weedy kid in the block for a long time. However the kid has now become a mid grade martial arts student and is getting better every month.

The bully now threatens to beat the kid up one last time, but now saying it from a safe distance, behind a wall, as he is not 100% sure he won't get a kicking himself.

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Re: Kim Jong-un

I would say the absolute best defence the USA can have at the moment is getting rid of that antagonistic POTUS (POS) and put someone in place that has a level of intelligence and diplomacy.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Kim Jong-un

"I would say the absolute best defence the USA can have at the moment is getting rid of that antagonistic POTUS (POS) and put someone in place that has a level of intelligence and diplomacy."

Oh really? Like that has worked for the last 50 years? Which POTUS did that work for? Nobel Prize winners Jimmy Carter or Barak Obama? Or how about the venerated and reasonable Bill Clinton? NKorea didn't get these nukes and missiles in the last year. They got them while the U.S. had "antagonistic POTUS (POS) and put someone in place that has a level of intelligence and diplomacy" IN OFFICE.

So what you suggest hasn't worked for 50 years, but you push that FAILED narrative anyway, against a POTUS you don't like, though the POTUS's you DID like failed utterly. You have a bit of a logic gap. Diplomacy has and will fail unless applied by China and Russia. It has nothing whatsoever to do with Trump.

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Re: Kim Jong-un

>So what you suggest hasn't worked for 50 years, but you push that FAILED narrative anyway, against a POTUS you don't like, though the POTUS's you DID like failed utterly. You have a bit of a logic gap. Diplomacy has and will fail unless applied by China and Russia. It has nothing whatsoever to do with Trump.<

Well the US hasn't really tried diplomacy with NK have they? Just increasing levels of sanctions & threatening behaviour toward them, even with the 'peaceful' presidents. It's perfectly understandable that they've wanted to develop a deterrent against being attacked.

Now that you have Trump, though, the threatening language is becoming very stupid indeed. It certainly can't help, can it?

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Mushroom

Re: Kim Jong-un

"I would say the absolute best defence the USA can have at the moment is getting rid of that antagonistic POTUS (POS) and put someone in place that has a level of intelligence and diplomacy."

If North Korea had oil the US would have destroyed them decades ago for unrelated reasons.

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Re: Kim Jong-un

Well the US hasn't really tried diplomacy with NK have they?

Incorrect. There was a deal done for food and oil aid in return for a moratorium on nuclear development done in the 90s, by Clinton. The US and South Korea provide the aid, and the North comprehensively broke the terms of the deal on nuclear.

Bush (Dubya version) had a go at putting this agreement back together. There were long 6 party talks to try and resume the same deal, but with a few more safeguards, given North Korea had broken the last deal. These eventually broke down and the DPRK continued with their nuclear program.

Late era Bush and Obama decided to tell the Norks what they wanted, but not to accept offers of talks, as what usually happened was the Norks would demand something, then escalate by sinking a ship, having a nuclear/missile test or attacking the South with artillery when they didn't get it. So they went for the increased sanctions approach instead.

The DPRK are again making peacful overtures, such as the joint Winter Olympics team. It may be that China finally deciding to apply serious pressure might be working. Or not.

But to say the US hasn't tried diplomacy is bollocks. Trump hasn't been diplomatic of course, but the US policy has been relatively consistent under both parties. They tried aid for concessions and got screwed, then they tried to re-negotiate that in hopes of a better result, then tried sanctions. Trump has added making an arse of himself on Twitter to the mix, but broadly US policy hasn't changed much in the last decade.

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Anonymous Coward

increasing levels of sanctions & threatening behaviour

And a lot of humanitarian aid, I believe. My perception is more carrot than stick so far - until recently.

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Re: Kim Jong-un

As I reply it appears 6 American republicans have shown their dislike for the obvious.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Kim Jong-un

"Oh really? Like that has worked for the last 50 years? "

Well, how many nuclear wars have we had with the Norks in the last 50 years?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Kim Jong-un

I suggest that the writer didn't like any of Trump's predecessors' diplomatic stance toward NK, and regard the US policy toward NK as antagonist since, oh, say, 1950. So, nukes. Regard Trump as a crescendo.

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Whatever happened

To space lasers which could fire down on missiles?

(Sharks optional).

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Re: Whatever happened

If they miss, say goodbye to whatever was under the missile. Japan? Hawaii? Small places relatively, but Murphy's Law will triumph.

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Re: Whatever happened

What happened? The same thing that is happening with these anti missile missiles. A bunch of companies get paid a lot of money to try and develop products that don't actually work. But they need not worry, they have donated enough money to politicians to ensure military spending doesn't get cut.

The US military budget is mostly a very inefficient make work project. It could easily be cut 80% with no real impact on national security. In fact I expect it would improve things over time as they couldn't afford to be meddling in places where they have no business meddling in the first place.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Whatever happened

They can barely get one to work on the ground let alone in space. Look at the one they are attaching to some US warships to tackle small inbound craft.....it has to be pointed at the same place for a few minutes to generate enough heat on the target to ignite it.

There are "stronger" lasers but these require huge amount of power and that is the problem here. We can't generate enough power to make it a useful weapon at the moment without making the laser the size of a house. You then have to make the power source powerful enough to be useful and small enough to fit into a satellite. We are probably 50 years away from space lasers at this rate.

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Re: Whatever happened

"To space lasers which could fire down on missiles?"

I'm guessing that you're thinking of the 'space' lasers in Reagan's SDI (Star Wars) scheme - these were one-shot X-ray lasers and were to be powered by nuclear explosions.

The initial plan was for them to be satellite based i.e. pre-launched and already in orbit, prior to the advent of any conflict. However, the US was one of the State Parties to the Outer Space Treaty, which forbade the deployment of nuclear weapons in space. A later variant of the scheme saw the X-ray laser devices (a package combining the nuclear device and the metal X-ray aiming and focusing rods) launched on a pop-up basis when it was realised that devices in orbit were too vulnerable.

Apparently, a proving test, via an underground nuclear shot, only provided questionable and "marginal" positive results.

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Re: Whatever happened

To space lasers which could fire down on missiles?

We (the human race, let alone the Americans) don't have the technology to do it properly. To do lasers, you need plentiful power and whatever the laser runs off (as well as cooling).

Putting all that in a re-usable satellite, getting it to orbit *and* servicing at appropriate service intervals? Not happening at the moment.

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Re: Whatever happened

It could easily be cut 80% with no real impact on national security

But then the generals and admirals wouldn't have their shiny toys to play with! And noting to show off at war games and all the other boys[1] would have nicer toys!

Not fair!

[1] Can you think of any women in command of anything resembling front-line? I can't..

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Alien

Re: Whatever happened

If i remember correctly it's a breach of international law to have weapons in space.

I'm sure someone will expand on this or correct me though...

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Re: Whatever happened

"Can you think of any women in command of anything resembling front-line? I can't.."

Robin Fontes, Michelle Howard and Lori Robinson are the ones that come to mind but there are quite a few.

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Re: Whatever happened

Cooling in particular would be very hard in a satellite, as there is no surrounding medium to which heat can be lost through conduction and convection. Leaving only radiation, which isn't very efficient until your satellite begins to melt. Also being lit up like a Christmas tree as it sheds excess heat by radiation does make for a most inviting target.

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Re: Whatever happened

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

He said "international law"!

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

And does Father Christmas have a view of the matter too?

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Launched from Hawaii?

Considering they've had the crapping of their lives, I'm sure a missile launch is the last thing the residents needed.

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Anonymous Coward

but the target made it easier by sending back tracking data.

So really, all we need is for everyone to install transponders on their ICBMs.

It is just the considerate thing to do.

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Re: but the target made it easier by sending back tracking data.

>So really, all we need is for everyone to install transponders on their ICBMs.

It is just the considerate thing to do.<

Yep. Except that the missile they failed to intercept wasn't an ICBM - it was a much slower, lower-altitude aircraft-launched missile. An ICBM travels outside the atmosphere, at far higher speeds, and typically delivers several different warheads to different locations. It would be orders of magnitude harder to destroy one of those.

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Pint

Missile Defense = "Hitting a bullet with a bullet."

Instead of attempting to "hit a bullet with a bullet", they should sneak up from behind thus making the relative closing speed much closer to zero (as opposed to "Plaid" x 2). It would make the interception very nearly trivial, plus they could immediately try again if they missed the first time.

It's a much better concept.

The only immediately-obvious rebuttal that I can think of is that the enemy warhead is probably on the pointy end. So you'd want to do something energetic enough to disable that end, depending on where the interception is being made. If it's mid-Pacific and still boosting, then maybe it's enough to simply cause it to miss the continent.

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Re: Missile Defense = "Hitting a bullet with a bullet."

>Instead of attempting to "hit a bullet with a bullet", they should sneak up from behind thus making the relative closing speed much closer to zero (as opposed to "Plaid" x 2). It would make the interception very nearly trivial, plus they could immediately try again if they missed the first time.<

You'd never catch it. Think how much faster the interceptor would need to be to get close enough to finally match the speed - you wouldn't normally be launching at the same time & from the same location. And the location of your anti-missile defences would have to be a long way away from the target as well in order to catch up with it before it reaches its target...

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Mushroom

If you want to see the futility of Ballistic Missile Defense, play a round of Missile Command. Yeah, it's a video game but the reality's even worse.

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Bingo! So, NKorea builds 200 missiles for 5 warheads and launches. The U.S. needs 2x/4x/6x/?? that number of WORKING anti missile missiles to ensure that none get through because we don't know which missiles have nuke warheads. The numbers game quickly overcomes missile defense systems.

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Meh

Feeling big

I would claim North Korea uses the same logic as Israel, we are safe as we have nukes, not to mention the UK prepared to pay dearly for Trident, a useless deterrent but for feeling big. Better with a capable army.

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Re: Feeling big

Trident isn't exactly useless. It has very large negative utility.

Without nuclear weapons, the UK is a most unlikely target for other countries' nuclear weapons. Although Russia and the USA have far more than they need, I doubt if they would bestow them on us just for good measure.

On the other hand, since we do have nuclear weapons, if any major exchange develops we are absolutely certain to get it in the neck.

Incidentally, the UK has about 1/70 of Russia's area, and about 1/40 of China or the USA (or Canada, but nobody cares about Canada).

Guess which is going to come off (much) worse in a nuclear exchange?

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Anonymous Coward

The problem with nuclear deterrents

Is that invariably they don't work if someone is crazy enough to launch a first strike.

At that point the damage is already done and there's a lot to be said for NOT retaliating.

Its actually better to concentrate on stopping the incoming missile(s) with high altitude low yield bursts which ironically have a higher chance of working than some anti-missile system while minimizing EMP damage.

IIRC the minimum yield for something like this is in the low MT range (800kt) and that will stop an incoming missile quite effectively.

AC, because this was already worked out in the 1960s and resulted in "Tsar Bomba"...

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Coat

Re: The problem with nuclear deterrents

"Is that invariably they don't work if someone is crazy enough to launch a first strike.".

Then there is the question if not the risk of a mistake is or is not greater than that crazy person to exist.

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