Re: more national missile defense

From: Spike Jones (
Date: Sat Jul 01 2000 - 15:07:04 MDT

> Spike Jones <> wrote: If on the other hand the intercept
> >succeeds, this same organization will mumble a few lines buried
> >deep within,
> John Clark wrote: I predict that if the government claims a success then intelligent
> people will be
> highly skeptical since in the past every claim of a successful test, without
> exception, has turned out to be rigged.

Beg to differ. The news media loves to *claim* the successful tests
were rigged, but in fact such claims reveal a failure to understand the
nature of tests. One famous example is the ERIS test, in which the
target contained a homing beacon. That test was a test of the concept
of end game guidance using cruciform nozzles. It hit the target, so
the intercept attempt was a success. ERIS was a proof-of-concept
that later led to the THAAD system. The customer was fully aware
of the configuration of the target, and cheerfully paid to have it run.

That test was not a test of target discrimination, for that technology
was not ready at that time. There were no decoys to discriminate.
That test was not a test of multispectrum seekers, for that technology
was not ready then. The ERIS did not even *contain* a seeker,
it was a test of end-game guidance only. No conspiracy. Those
technologies *are* ready now, and will be tested now, and in
the coming years.

The news media, stinging under the notion that Ronald Reagan's star-
wars fantasy could have basis in actual fact (after they had repeatedly
and vehemently ridiculed the idea), cooked up a story, which
most of the gullible public bought, that the target team had cheated
and helped the missile team. These same news media continue to
cook up one-sided stories to this day on the same subject and
the results are similar now to what they were 20 yrs ago. Over the
years, the news media have flushed an enoooormous amount of
credibility capital, insisting that national missile defense is hopeless,
now and forever.

> Not one test has been realistic.

Was the Wright brother's flight at Kitty Hawk a realistic test?

> Missile defense is economics, so if they were smart they'd conduct a study
> to see if there is any way their proposed defensive system can be made cheaper
> than an enemy's offensive system, because if it's not then it's pointless.

They already are. A THAAD missile is far cheaper than the cost of
the plutonium for a nuke alone. Once the design is qualified, the
missiles themselves can be spun out by the jillions. Its then only
a series of manufacturing problems, which are easily solved.
Mechanically THAAD is fairly simple. The real magic in that
system is in the software. How expensive is software to copy,
once you have it written and debugged?

> And if they wanted to be scientific then the team designing
> the attacking test vehicle should be completely different from the team designing
> the defense.

They are in this case. The blue team builds the targets, the red
team builds the interceptor, the white team watches both to make
sure nobody cheats. I can assure you the blue team is doing
everything it can do to fool the target discrimination red team.

> The attack should not be carefully tuned to the strength of the defense
> so it's easy to shoot down, they should probe for weakness, they should do what a
> real attacker would do, they should put some very smart people on the job to see if
> they can come up with simple cheap ways to confuse the ABM.

Agreed. Intercepting is a tougher problem than spoofing, currently.
But remember, all the discrimination satellites are not in service. Yet...

> For example, The Union Of Concerned Scientists has recommended that the
> warhead be put inside a Mylar RADAR reflecting balloon so it would look like all the
> other decoys until the last few seconds of its flight when it entered the atmosphere.

OK, but of course the Union of Concerned Scientist's credibility is
not exactly stellar in this particular field. For instance, can you imagine
a technology (such as a multispectrum laser reflector/detector of some
sort) in which a mylar balloon with something inside it would look vastly
different from an empty mylar balloon? A mylar balloon is highly reflective
in the limited spectral band our eyes recognize, however in some other
spectral bands an aluminized mylar balloon is as transparent as a condom.

Also, a warhead can be fired upon after it hits the upper atmosphere
and before it develops a plasma sheath, using the Patriot Advanced
Capability or PAC3.

Since you mentioned the U of CS, there is one possible show-stopper
for national missile defense, which has never been mentioned in any of
these debates, a really formidable one. Ive never seen it mentioned in
any of the media presentations either. If you wish, I will share from an
insiders view, what is the biggest obstacle to a successful missile shield.
Any guesses?

> I think the reason is that if you can't even pass
> a rigged test then it's really pitiful, and with 50,000 or more warheads if your defense
> isn't virtually perfect then it's not worth building.

Granted it isnt virtually perfect today. But if we can limp by on
diplomacy alone for another 10 years, the system will be formidable.
If we can do it for 30 years, it may be virtually perfect. The argument
is that if we cannot go directly from no-defense to a perfect defense
then we should stay indefinitely with no-defense? There are, there
*must be* a few intermediate steps! This is one of them. Lets sit
back and enjoy the show, shall we? spike

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