Re: more national missile defense

From: Spike Jones (
Date: Sun Jul 02 2000 - 22:10:09 MDT

John Clark wrote:

> And when success was first triumphantly announced was there anything said
> about a beacon, or a heater that was used on another test until years later?

No. This was not a test of a seeker or target discrimination, it had
to do with endgame control, a daring design of a kill vehicle with
cruciform nozzles and no explosive, i.e. body to body contact kill.

> Did the military say this had nothing to do with a practical weapon?

It *did* have something to do with a practical weapon. You need
to demonstrate hit to kill before any of the rest of it makes sense
to pursue.

> Their credibility is zero, if they wish to regain people's trust there is only one thing
> to do, declassify EVERYTHING.

hmmm, I dont think we want them to declassify *everything* do
we? Would not that make any defensive system less useful, to
point out to the enemy where the weak points are? Remember,
the defensive system has done its job if an enemy wisely decides
not to attack it, knowing it is unsure of the outcome.

> No "test" has told us a thing about
> how a nuclear enemy could be defeated.

THAAD demonstrated hit to kill. Last week the military
ordered a bunch of these missiles. The target discrimination
aspects are classified. Will anyone bet their nation that
THAAD can be fooled?

> >ERIS was a proof-of-concept that later led to the THAAD system.
> Proof of what concept, that under the right condition a missile can shoot down
> another missile?


> That didn't need proving everybody already knew it was true,

We did? There was still a lot of debate whether hit-to-kill
could *ever* be made to work. I would not have bet on it
until I saw it done.

> I want to know if a practical ABM system can ever be made to work.

I do too. We all want to know that. Thats what tests are for.

> The customer was the taxpayer, and I know of at least one who wasn't very
> cheerful about the sham.

Hmmmm, you do bring up an interesting point. The whole process
is filled with irony. The persons developing the defenses are not
cleared to know the threats. The persons developing targets to
simulate the threats are not cleared to know the capability of the
defenses. The persons in charge of choosing the defense systems
are cleared to know both, and those actually paying the bills, the
taxpayers, are not cleared for nothing.

Good point, dont know the answer, dont think declassifying
everything is a good idea.

> > A THAAD missile is far cheaper than the cost of the plutonium for a nuke alone.
> Baloney! There is a worldwide glut of plutonium...As I said before only a few pounds can make
> a bomb.

And those few pounds are hard to get. THAAD missiles are not
all that complicated as hardware systems go. The real magic is
in the software, which can be replicated free.

> As for the vehicle itself, a defensive missile need to be super accurate, it's error radius
> must be measured in inches. If an offensive missile's error radius is a hundred miles
> that's fine.

100 miles? I *hope* Im a hundred miles away. John you have
seen films of the H bomb tests at Bikini, have you not? Re-
estimate that destruction radius. It isnt 100 miles.

> A defensive missile absolutely positively must work perfectly every single time,
> hardware like that doesn't come cheap. If 9 out of 10 offensive ICBMs fail on
> launch it doesn't matter, with so much overkill the vast majority of H bombs would
> do nothing but bounce charred bones and rubble anyway.

Yes, IF it is Russia doing the attacking, yes they have a jillion
nukes. A terrorist wont have that many.

> You can make offensive decoys that cost almost nothing

True, but the cost of actually firing one at a nuclear capable
target would be high indeed, would it not?

> One ICBM can have dozens of warheads and thousands of decoys.

Sure, but this is a capability far beyond the present capability
of the U.S. I dont expect a terrorist to come up with such
a sophisticated device.

> >The blue team builds the targets, the red team builds the interceptor,
> >the white team watches both to make sure nobody cheats.
> Are you seriously trying to tell me that they're building targets for this thing
> as cleverly as they know how to do? Ridiculous.

They have constraints. The white team (the customer, who knows
the level of threats thru various means not available to us) decides
what level of technology, what budget it will allow the blue team
to have.

Ideally every test should have a 50-50 chance of success from
the white team's point of view. Of course, the blue team and the
red team will each be reporting models suggesting a higher than
50% chance of success. If the white team thinks one side has
a way better chance than the other, they will likely postpone the
test so as not to waste expensive targets on a test that is either
too hard or too easy. In fact that is exactly what happened to the
third and final THAAD test. The white team decided the THAAD
missile had a very high likelihood of intercept, so they postponed
the test to give the target team a chance to get some new tricks.

> If the blue team does too good
> a job I have no doubt their chances of promotion would be zero. In the history of
> the world has this "white team" of yours ever objected to anything?

Yup. See above.

> > I can assure you the blue team is doing everything it can do to fool the target
> >discrimination red team.
> Then they're not very smart and we're unlikely to encounter an enemy that dumb.

Can you be sure? How?

> And they won't be in service when their needed because I'll destroy them
> before I attack.

Oh? And you do realize of course that attacking orbiting assets
is an act of war, and that a well-known nuclear capable nation has the
means of determining exactly where this anti-sat attack originated.

> Unlike missiles, satellites are in orbit, I know exactly where
> they are at all times. Satellites work great in peacetime but you can't rely
> on them in war.

I see. So then the logic behind Milstar is....

> > of course the Union of Concerned Scientist's credibility is
> > not exactly stellar in this particular field.
> I've not heard anything bad about them but it doesn't matter...

It doesnt? They are speculating about matters for which they
are not cleared. Do scientists do such things? Should they not
call themselves the Union of Concerned Politicians?

> the idea of putting
> the warhead in a aluminized balloon is a good one...

Unless we have some means of defeating it. Do you know
that mylar balloons were once used as a visible band and
high frequency decoy for fighter planes? I saw them fail to
spoof an AIM9R, and that was 16 yrs ago. Has mylar
improved that much? Would you bet your life on it?

>the government is not going to do it on Friday's test, they're afraid to.

I suppose thats one explanation, however if such a simple
countermeasure is thought to be effective, they would be
afraid to *not* use them. Remember, intercept test outcomes
are not classified because they cannot be: anyone with a
telescope can watch and will either see a huge flash or no.
But target discrimination tests are classified as all hell. I
dont know what can and cannot be done. But it is informative
that those who choose the weapons to buy are going ahead.

> I can imagine anything that doesn't violate the laws of physics, but I don't
> want something from the imagination, I want a practical system.

As do we all. How do we get there, other than build it, a
piece at a time?

> > however in some other spectral bands an aluminized mylar
> >balloon is as transparent as a condom.
> OK, an X ray laser scanning system that can fit inside a very small rocket and
> can make the determination in a few nanoseconds.

Fit inside a small rocket? That LADAR must already be in orbit
to be of any use when called upon. Agreed you cant wait until
attacked to launch. I dont think anyone has suggested that.

> Spend a few hundred billion
> dollars and I'll bet you could come up with something that worked pretty well, in
> a lab. Congratulations, you have taken your first step in fighting your way inside
> a 79 cent plastic bag.

Ja, one which *might* contain a nuke. A few hundred billion
for that information is a good deal, is it not?

> Such a rocket would be of extremely short range so you'd need thousands.

Ja. So build em.

> perhaps millions to cover the entire continental USA

Ja. So build em. Whats a city worth?

> , but it wouldn't help anyway.

Why not? Do you suppose a nuke missile could run such
a gauntlet?

>I'll first send a warhead to detonate 50 or 60 miles above your city,

First? You mean, fire upon a nuclear capable power, who can
trace the launch from the second you fire the engine, and who
has submarines full of MIRV capable defenses cruising silently
somewhere in the sea, perhaps not so far from your launch site.
So now, think quickly for these MIRVs are on their way, and will
remove all traces of your existence in as little as 15 minutes, regardless
if your scheme was successful. You will never know.

> even in the unlikely event your electronics are not fried by the EMP the resulting huge
> cloud of plasma
> would be opaque to light, RADAR and infrared, I could send anything I wanted to
> through it and you'd never know until it was much too late.

So you are postulating that you are Russia, with a jillion missiles
which can be fired simultaneously? OK, right, this system can
be defeated by that. Nowthen, are you a terrorist, with one, two
or say... five missiles? Do you feel lucky? Are you willing to
pay the supreme price for a chance to hurt the great satan?

> > then we should stay indefinitely with no-defense?
> It's not something we choose, it's just the way things are.

Thats the way things are *now*.

> I wish defense had
> gained the upper hand over offense too, but wishing does not make it so.

I agree: wishing does not make it so. MAKING IT SO makes it so.

John, we are standing on the threshold of a dream, man. There
will come a day, if we have the courage to make it so, when the best
defense is a strong defense. We can do it! Nuke missiles are a
technology that has stood still long enough that we can defeat them!
But we need to work at it, and yes its expensive, and yes it is
limited and yes I understand that it implies eventually a totally
transparent society and yes yes yes, I do understand the frustrations
of concerned scientists who are intentionally frozen out of the game,
but they have chosen to not go into that field, get clearances, work
on these systems. Let us make it so, shall we? spike

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