National Missile Defense System. . . . . Good or bad?

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by stevo, Jul 22, 2002.

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  1. JediStryker Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 5, 2000
    star 4
    I have on reliable source that Iraq will have ICBMs within two years. He already has nukes that he can launch within 350KM of Iraq.
  2. Red-Seven Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Oct 21, 1999
    star 5
    Although I have consistently tried to seperate the 'should we do it' arguement from the 'CAN we do it', I felt this was news-worthy.

    Anti-NMD Physicist at MIT alleges academic fraud in support of NMD
    The issue in question goes to the heart of missile defence technology, an article of faith among right-wing Republicans and a key plank in Mr Bush?s 2000 presidential manifesto. The United States unilaterally withdrew last year from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with Russia in order to pursue the controversial proposed system, which is designed to intercept enemy warheads in flight, a feat likened to hitting a bullet with a bullet.

    Dr Postol and fellow critics say the ability of an interceptor missile to distinguish between an incoming warhead and the decoys likely to accompany it is deeply suspect. Any such doubts would cripple the credibility of the system.

    Such questions date back to mid-1997 when the military contractor TWR Inc was accused by one of its employees, Nira Schwartz, of faking test results on a prototype anti-missile sensor meant to tell hostile warheads from decoys.

    The company and its system was given the all-clear by the Lincoln Laboratory, a federally funded research centre at MIT. But subsequently the General Accounting Office, an investigative arm of Congress, accused TWR of exaggerating the sensors? performance, saying its conclusions had been ?highly misleading?.

    Dr Postol has written to 20 members of Congress saying that MIT?s reluctance to investigate the role of its own research centre ?may indicate an attempt to conceal evidence of criminal violations?.

    Critics say that MIT?s independence is compromised by its interest in maintaining hundreds of millions of dollars in annual government contracts.

    The missile defence system, the first steps of which Mr Bush announced in December with the aim of having ten missile interceptors in Alaska by 2004, is being built by Raytheon, which beat TWR to the contract. But Dr Postol said the TWR test, which offers a rare glimpse into the highly secretive world of missile testing and is based on the same infra-red technology used by Raytheon, suggests some flaws that challenge the overall feasibility of the entire project.

    Dr Postol, a persistent missile defence critic who is accusing MIT of a ?serious case of scientific fraud?, cannot be lightly dismissed. After the Gulf War he challenged the Pentagon?s claims for the success of its defensive Patriot missiles, saying they had intercepted few if any Iraqi Scuds. Despite initial ridicule, his assertion is now accepted.

    Since 1999 three of the eight tests of ?hit to kill? interceptors have failed. Critics say that wrapping a nuclear warhead in radar-absorbing rubber foam or releasing thousands of small pieces of metal would be enough to fool an interceptor.
  3. JediSmuggler Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 5, 1999
    star 5
    From what I have understood, Postol has long been an opponent of missile defense.

    Some of the failures recently have been of items not related to the intercept vehicle, but instead have been related to other components on the rocket (failure to separate a stage).

    Also, the tests are not entirely realistic, but not as Postol is claiming. In a real situation with what would be n incoming ICBM from North Korea, we'd be shooting more than one interceptor per target. The climatic scene from Tom Clancy's The Bear and the Dragon is a more likely scenario. Ten missiles fired - the ninth scores a hit.

    Plus, there are other systems probably in progress, too.

    Finally, even a "leaky" missile defense system is betetr than none. Because a nation LAUNCHING the missiles will not know WHICH missiles will get through.
  4. Bubba_the_Genius Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 2002
    star 4
    My two cents on what seems to be the two biggest objections to NMD:

    "It wouldn't stop a suitcase bomb."

    That NMD would only protect us from missles and not suitcase bombs is an empty argument. The fire department can save a house from a fire, but they can do little against a hurricane, flood, tornado, or mudslide. But that DOESN'T make the fire department useless.

    "It wouldn't stop every missle."

    Likewise, the fire department can't save every house that's caught on fire: some fires burn more quickly than others and sometimes the system is overwhelmed with forest fires and other large-scale fires. But, again, that doesn't make the fire department useless.

    The most this second argument does is call into question a system's efficency. Certainly, a given missle defense system may be too unreliable to justify its cost, but that doesn't disqualify missle defense, per se.

    In fact, I know of no argument that disqualifies missle defense per se. We can discuss costs and effectiveness, but I do think that NMD is simply a good idea.
  5. SaberGiiett7 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 2, 2002
    star 6
    I'm going to make this short and sweet. With the number of enemy's growing rapidly because of the war (many of them with Nuclear capibilities) it would be impratical not to. *Shrugs* Whats there to argue?
  6. Grand Admiral Thran Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Jul 22, 1999
    star 4
    *chuckles*

    STARWARS!

    Ah, Bush, good ol' bush. My favorite recycled president. If he ever gets an original thought to boost his popularity I think the four horsemen might come...

    But anyways, from a purely technological stand point this project is defunct from the start. From an economic standpoint, it is far too costly for the payoff. And from a political point for foreign relations, it is another example of the republican party's greed, ignorance, and exploitation of the american people because most of America is the 'good ol' white ignorant' type.

    To start with, we do not have the technology yet to make it anywhere -near- efficent. It might hit 1 out of 10000 missiles right now. Let me explain HOW it works.

    You have 20 minutes (assuming a missile is launched from Korea, all the way over the pacific ocean, which is one of the LONGEST possible paths - most are LESS in time) from when the missile is launched till the missile hits its target. Anything under 45 seconds will give a high chance of damage against the ground target. That leaves you with a maximum of about 18-19 minutes to remove the threat to only incur minimal casualities.

    Any ICBM/nuke/whatever travels in a parabolic curve from start to finish. It goes from the surface, to space, back to Earth. Each missile has three stages of its lifespan (well 4, but it blows up on 4 ;) ).

    (3-5 minutes) First, is launch. Each missile is equipped with a lot of thrust to get it off the ground and into space. This is why missiles are so large, during this stage the missile is the most vulnerable, for it is travelling the slowest with a huge payload of explosives (fuel) under it.

    (around 15 minutes) Second, when it reaches space, it releases its bottom shell which falls to earth (boy, wouldn't want to be under that) and enter's Earth's orbit. From there, going extremely fast it will travel in a small arc for a short amount of time till it nears its target. Its in 'free fall' or unguided at this point, coasting on a set path.

    (1 minute or less) Third, the warhead has small boosters on its hull that ignite and turn it just enough to allow Earth's gravity to pull it back to Earth in a curve to its target. This is why most missiles aren't that accuracate until as of late, a lot of calculation and self-automated electronics goes into launching one. The missile, at this point, is travelling at its fastest velocity.

    Our methods:

    Boost phase: "laser" defense. Focusing kenetic energy on the missile using a plane or a series of satalite based 'lasers' that burn through the hull and set off the fuel, effectively destroying the missile. Hard to hit a missile with a missile at this stage, since its still changing courses. Much easier to strike it with a -very- powerful laser. Problem is: How do you focus a beam of energy on a moving target that travels faster vertically than any plane we own, and we haven't the technology to make a laser powerful enough to rip through Earth's atmosphere to focus on said ICBM. Not much research is being put into this development, either. Was deemed impossible after Reagan, and largely a waste of $$.

    Mid course: Launching a sea or ground based smaller missile to hit the missile in space before it comes back into the terminal phase.
    Most logical and possible form of missile interception. Only problem is, most ICBM's carry 'dummies' with it in the course flight to confuse such defense systems. On top of it, they can change course to avoid some oncoming objects/heat generators with the late 70's onwards models. Hitting a bullet with a bullet is what it boils down to, even with early detection and several launches, the chances are not too large.

    Terminal phase: THAAD -Basically hitting a missile with a missile at pointblank range. Not quite effective, but would lessen casualities. Its also not even close to being completed or made accurate.

    Our methods of detection:

    STSS: Space tracking and Surveillance System (STSS). From space it tracks the missile. Keep in mind, its a big globe ;).

    Russian-American Missile Det
  7. darthmalt16 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 25, 2000
    star 4
    The basic technology exists we just have to refine it and make it better. People who point to the patriot missiles as being failures are forgetting that it did exactly as it was supposed to. It was made to protect airfields and small bases. If you defend an airfield and knock a missile of course by even a mile it probably won't hurt anything. But in a city it's just going to hit somewhere else. Also they kept Israel out of the war. If they had entered into the conflict our islamic allies would have refused to cooperate.



    Now for the Reagon defense shield. It was never even supposed to work. It had 2 missions. Inspire confidence in the American people and hurt the Soviet Union. It succeeded. the soviet union spent time money and effort trying to discover how the American system worked and to invent thier own. Instead of using those resources for other things.


    I believe the missile shield will work but it will just take time and money.
  8. JediSmuggler Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 5, 1999
    star 5
    darthmalt16:

    Believe it or not the missile defense technologies of today (the Airborne Laser, the hit-to-kill system being built in Alaska and the sea-based and land-based systems) ALL came from SDI.

    So did the Israeli Arrow missile defense system. It was intended to work - and even the projects that have not reached fruition were doable as well, including the X-ray laser.
  9. DarthKarde Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2002
    star 5
    I'm interested to know if any of those who think that this is a good idea can refute the points made by GAT with something more concrete than we need to keep working on it and eventually it will work.
  10. JediSmuggler Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 5, 1999
    star 5
    DarthKarde:

    The fact is, as I have explained earlier - even a "leaky" system will have an effect.

    How will a foreign power know, prior to launching an attack with ballistic missiles, WHICH missile warheads will be taken out by the missile defense system?

    I am NOT asking how many, but instead asking WHICH.
  11. DarthKarde Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2002
    star 5
    From most of the information that I have seen it would seem that very few missiles are likely to be intercepted if any. 'Leaky' describes the situation in a positive position compared to reality. I don't have a problem with the US trying to develope a missile shield but I find it laughable that you intend to spend billions on testing and deploying such an ineffective defensive system. As GAT said, serious R&D and a lot of patience is required before missile defense on such a large scale becomes reality.
  12. JediSmuggler Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 5, 1999
    star 5
    DarthKarde:

    Not quite.

    If anything, as I have explained before, the tests are not entirely reflective of reality. We would NOT be sticking with a strict "one shot per ICBM" policy. More likely, it would be two or three per missile at a minimum.

    Second, even on these "one shot per missile" tests, we have had success in three of five tests. And the two failures were NOT related to missile defense, but low-tech mistakes NOT RELATED to the kinetic-kill vehicle that was being boosted.

    This is from National Review in March:
    http://www.nationalreview.com/daily/nr031502.shtml

    That article was prior to a major missile defense test that succeeded - and the test that succeeded involved three balloon decoys:
    http://www.nationalreview.com/miller/miller031802.asp

    Also, you ducked my earlier question. I didn't ask HOW MANY missiles would be hit, I asked WHICH missiles would be hit. Will the ones that take out our counter-attack be hit? Or will it be the ones that are intended to decapitate the National Command Authority?

    How can you tell? Yeah, you can run simulations, you can make a guess, but can you be sure? That's a lot of uncertainty into the mix.
  13. DarthKarde Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2002
    star 5
    Firstly I don't consider the tests remotely reflective of reality. Secondly no one knows which missiles would be hit, as you say there is a lot of uncertainty. All I can say is that most of what I have read on the subject indicates to me that the present level of technology is insufficent for a reasonably reliable system. But it's your Tax $s not mine thats paying for it so go ahead.
  14. Grand Admiral Thran Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Jul 22, 1999
    star 4
    The fact is, as I have explained earlier - even a "leaky" system will have an effect.

    Yes, like a screen door on a submarine. The only way this system works is if we have early detection (before the missile is launched preferrably) and it doesnt' carry dummies with it.


    How will a foreign power know, prior to launching an attack with ballistic missiles, WHICH missile warheads will be taken out by the missile defense system?


    How will we know? we're shooting at big metal things in the sky, miles up. Each dummy gives off the same radio and heat frequencies to throw off intercepting missiles. We're guessing as much as they are. Praying as well.


    I am NOT asking how many, but instead asking WHICH.


    Doesn't matter how many, its if we hit the right missile. Which we won't know till it goes 'boom'.

    Its not that it will -never- work, it just needs tons and tons of R&D on the theoretical level than it being implimented on a physical level. We're close to the technology if we pump funds and divert attention to it, and we can have a fairy accurate one if we launch a few dedicated satalies, and install new bases and ships at sea. Just...we need to do that first, then worry about practicing it. But as I said..

    People need to see immediate results from their dollars to keep you in office. This is why the tests were done now, during the first part of Bush's term. Its called pol-lo-tic-king!

    -GAT
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