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United States Technology

US Missle Interceptor Tests a Success 391

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the pull! dept.
An anonymous reader writes to mention that the U.S. Missile Defense Agency and Lockheed Martin recently reported success in the test flight of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system. "THAAD is designed to defend U.S. troops, allied forces, population centers and critical infrastructure against short- to intermediate range ballistic missiles. THAAD comprises a fire control and communications system, interceptors, launchers and a radar. The THAAD interceptor uses hit-to-kill technology to destroy targets, and is the only weapon system that engages threat ballistic missiles at both endo- and exo-atmospheric altitudes."
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US Missle Interceptor Tests a Success

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  • by cashman73 (855518) on Monday January 29, 2007 @05:29PM (#17805072) Journal
    • Somehow the idea of Bush telling North Korea to Bring 'em on [cnn.com] is rather unsettling.
  • by User 956 (568564) on Monday January 29, 2007 @05:30PM (#17805092) Homepage
    The THAAD interceptor uses hit-to-kill technology to destroy targets

    This is far superior to the "miss-to-kill" technology they were employing in previous models.
    • Translation (Score:5, Informative)

      by everphilski (877346) on Monday January 29, 2007 @05:37PM (#17805198) Journal
      It uses kinetic energy to destroy a target (1/2 * m * v**2), no explosives onboard.
    • But that's as opposed to proximity detonation.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      This is far superior to the "miss-to-kill" technology they were employing in previous models.

      Which in turn beat the crap out of the "hit-to-annoy" technology used before that.
    • by nsayer (86181) *
      Ha ha, but "hit-to-kill" is in contrast, for example, to the current generation of TOW missiles, which try to fly just over a tank and explode directly above it. That is, they intentionally try to "miss" the target so that they can deploy blast energy at a more vulnerable location of the target.
  • IT'S SPELT MISSILE (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    download Firefox and you'll see the big fucking red line /spelling nazi
  • Whoa, Dude! (Score:3, Funny)

    by DittoBox (978894) on Monday January 29, 2007 @05:32PM (#17805118) Homepage
    THAAD is RAADical!!

    Sorry, very poor taste in pun choices there.
  • New arms race? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by caitriona81 (1032126) <sdaugherty@TWAINgmail.com minus author> on Monday January 29, 2007 @05:33PM (#17805144) Journal
    Now the question is whether this will just be a defense against missile threats from rogue states, or the start of another arms race. How long before we start to see missiles with the kind of sophisticated countermeasures against interception that military aircraft have against missile threats?
    • Re:New arms race? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Dunbal (464142) on Monday January 29, 2007 @05:42PM (#17805260)
      Now the question is whether this will just be a defense against missile threats from rogue states

            The system works on short and intermediate range missiles - the kind presumably launched from submarines.

            The arms race isn't new - it's an ongoing thing if you have an army. The only option is to do away with it to get out of the race. But if you're a large nation with many useful resources - stuff other people might want - you're stuck in the race.

            Still the danger here is if you (temporarily) have a way to avoid taking damage from an enemy, that makes it MORE likely that you will strike with less hesitation. Frankly I look forward to the day that this technology can be defeated. A little fear and hesitation is good for foreign policy once in a while. It begets respect.
      • Re:New arms race? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jfengel (409917) on Monday January 29, 2007 @06:16PM (#17805682) Homepage Journal
        That may have been true with respect to Mutually Assured Destruction, but I think that this is aimed more at modern asymmetrical warfare. These days the US doesn't really fear massive barrages from the Soviet Union or China as much as it fears a single missile from North Korea or Iran with a nuclear warhead. Something which can inflict tens of thousands of casualties.

        Response to such an event would be difficult. To prevent it from happening again we'd have to inflict massive, disproportionate damage on the enemy, thus incurring truly epic international hatred. We wouldn't even be 100% certain of being able to identify the enemy.

        This throws the balances of MAD out of whack. I can actually believe North Korea would try such a thing and believe they could get away with it. It knows that the first thing China would do is insist that the US take no retaliation, and back it up with real MAD. Shooting down that one missile (or at least making North Korea believe we could) dramatically reduces the risk.

        (Note: I'm not an expert in international relations. There are plenty of people who would say that the US is busily making the world a more dangerous place, and has been since before our latest Iraq debacle. I'm just trying to explain the actions in terms of our own perceptions. "Truth", if there is such a thing, may well differ.)
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Dunbal (464142)
          I'm not an expert in international relations.

                That was cute: Don't worry, looking back at history I'd say there is *no such thing* as an "expert in international relations" ;)
      • Re:New arms race? (Score:4, Informative)

        by Martin Blank (154261) on Monday January 29, 2007 @06:23PM (#17805796) Journal
        Submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) are not intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBMs) from a technical sense, and usually not from a practical sense, either. Trident missiles used by the US and UK have a range of 12,000km, more than double the maximum range used by the State Department when describing IRBMs. Russia has used SLBMs with ranges of 7000km or more (up to about 8000km) since the early 1960s). Only the French and Chinese field SLBMs with ranges that fall within the State Dept's definition of an IRBM (3000km-5500km).

        THAAD is intended for use against tactical weapons, such as those that might be deployed over a theater. Mixing eras, it would be used against weapons with V-1 and V-2 missile ranges. It's also far less expensive (and apparently far more effective within its given role) than the more well-known ABM system, and will be complementary to the eventual deployment of the ABL, which itself sort of straddles the divide, being dependent more on the curvature of the earth than anything else for its range.
    • Re:New arms race? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by megaditto (982598) on Monday January 29, 2007 @05:46PM (#17805320)
      No, this is convincingly aimed at the rogue states (with 1-2 missiles), and not at, say Russia or China.

      That's because the system is nearly impossible to scale up or upgrade effectively, and it is very vulnerable to countermeasures.

      Therefore, there's simply no reason for the arms race.
    • Re:New arms race? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Jack9 (11421) on Monday January 29, 2007 @06:07PM (#17805560)
      There is no question as the technology is perhaps the worst kind. A lucrative defense contract that produced a system that doesnt work in real world scenarios. Are you so misled by a defense contractor's press release to ask a followup question or are you being sarcastic?

      http://www.davidsuzuki.org/about_us/Dr_David_Suzuk i/Article_Archives/weekly07250301.asp [davidsuzuki.org] to give you a high school primer on the physics of distance vs speed, which is noticeably independent of the targetting concerns. We wont hear about this until the system " unfortunately fails to counter" a simple rocket launched from a truck somewhere near Washington D.C.

      "If you build a missile defense that is so fragile almost anything an adversary does will cause it to collapse, then you invite a weak adversary to (attack)" - Theodore A. Postol
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tsotha (720379)

        Okay, first of all your link doesn't support your argument at all. Suzuki is talking about boost phase interception, which is a whole different kettle of fish. You can't really use missiles for boost phase interception unless they're stationed in orbit. And why do you say this technology is "the worst kind"? Technology isn't good or bad, it just is. Pretty much every first-world country plus China and India is doing ballistic missile defense research - we would be foolish not to.

        THAAD isn't designed t

    • by Cyberax (705495)
      How about NOW?

      New Russian rockets can maneuver in three dimensions and deploy decoys. And I'm not even speaking about multiple warheads on each rocket.
    • by dbIII (701233)

      Now the question is whether this will just be a defense against missile threats from rogue states, or the start of another arms race.

      Good point - Israel needs something to stop twenty year old surplus Iranian missiles hitting them becuase their home grown space laser mentioned here just before the recent war doesn't really work.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by twiddlingbits (707452)
      That technology already exists and has for decades. Dummy warheads, faked heat signatures, electronic countermeasures and others exist as defenses to the ABMs. THAAD has counter-counter-measures built into the terminal phase package. Countermeasures and how to defeat them are some of the most sensitive aspects of any missile program. THAAD has been around for about 15 yrs now, and is just getting to the testing stage.At one time, back in the mid-90's I worked on this program for about 6 months designed sim
  • by common middle name (657525) on Monday January 29, 2007 @05:35PM (#17805170)
    ...how many tracking devices was the "target" running so that the projectile could find it and hit it? I really don't think enemy missiles will do the equivalent of waving a banner and screaming "Hey defense system! I'm right here!"
    • by peragrin (659227)
      They have worked out most of the bugs now, so it only has one device that goes Ping I'm over here every second. Unlike the earlier test which had a GPS receiver in the target transmitting position data to the anti-missile missile.
  • Let me guess (Score:2, Insightful)

    by nightsweat (604367)
    They strapped a thirty ton magnet to the missile with bright flashing light and had it fly 40 mph? Naaaah. I'm sure the test wasn't rigged. The military would NEVER do that.
    • The first time anything worked, the test had to be a bit rigged. Now it's a test to see if another 60 billion can get us to hit a missile without the flashing light
    • by GroeFaZ (850443)
      First of all, you can't tell this time (not from TFA at least).
      Second, yes they have done that before. But who would expect such a complex system to work on the first attempt? Who in his sane mind would even _try_ to get it all right on the first attempt?

      If you have ever written a fairly complex program, i.e. one that provides work for several code monkeys, one that has an actually recognizable and useful architecture, one that does what it's supposed to do, then you know this is the way to go. You test
  • It used to be Theater High Altitude Area Defense.
  • THAAD? (Score:5, Funny)

    by brouski (827510) on Monday January 29, 2007 @05:37PM (#17805196)
    Is that better than THAC0?
  • Whew... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lord_Slepnir (585350) on Monday January 29, 2007 @05:39PM (#17805214) Journal
    At first, I was thinking "Great, now all we can defend ourselves against all of those ICBMs that Al-Queda has laying around". But then I realized that there are countries that don't have the luxury of having a few thousand miles of ocean between them and their enemies. I think this technology would be great if deployed to South Korea, Japan, Tiawan, or Isreal. Nothing says "Screw you, Kim" like a system to completely nullify the technology that he's spent years and an equivalent of about his entire country's GDP to develop. Or a note from the IDF to hezbollah: "Can you please stop shooting missiles at us? I'm getting tired of re-loading the launcher".
    • Re:Whew... (Score:4, Funny)

      by kfg (145172) on Monday January 29, 2007 @06:02PM (#17805490)
      I realized that there are countries that don't have the luxury of having a few thousand miles of ocean between them and their enemies.

      Tell me about it. I can damn near see Canada from here.

    • by bwy (726112)
      Both THAAD and Aegis BMD systems are designed to be forward deployed to the parts of the world that you mention.
    • by GroeFaZ (850443)
      "Can you please stop shooting missiles at us? I'm getting tired of re-loading the launcher".

      Except that shooting smart defensive rockets probably costs anywhere between 1 and 3 orders of magnitude more money than shooting those dumb, yet quite accurate, nearly home-made Hezbollah missiles, not to mention that the defender has to slack off only once to let one slip.
    • The problem is, of course, that a terroist organization would never deliver a nuclear weapon via missile. They would slip it ashore via boat, truck, or maybe in a small aircraft. Al Qeada would love to pop off a nuke in the port of Los Angeles, only to have us nuke Pakistan or N. Korea in retaliation.

      During the cold war, the Soviets had a number of man-portable nukes designed to be smuggled into the lands of the "Primary Adversary" (USA) and detonated as a first strike. I recall a film in which the Directo

    • Missle interceptors have a shaky history though. It is very, very hard. Even Ronald Regan acknowledged that it would be very difficult and possibly take several decades to get right. So far, it's been a boondoggle.

      The initial euphoria over the Patriot missle system wasn't backed up by anything that showed it to be worthwhile, most analyses showed it to not have much benefit, I think many showed it caused more problems than it solved because the fragments of the SCUD + Patriot was worse than the damage th
  • Missle ??? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Salsaman (141471) on Monday January 29, 2007 @05:39PM (#17805216) Homepage
    Is that the American word for "missile" or something ?
  • Next up.... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Lord_Slepnir (585350) on Monday January 29, 2007 @05:41PM (#17805244) Journal
    Hezbollah has announced they have developed an anti-anti-missile missile. "Take that, you zionist pigs!" said one spokesman. Currently Lockheed Martin is developing an anti-anti-anti-missile-missile missile to counter this new threat.
    • Crap. "anti-anti-missile missile" should be "anti-anti-missile-missile missile", and "anti-anti-anti-missile-missile missile" should be "anti-anti-anti-missile-missile-missile missile". Preview next time, slep. Preview.
    • by istartedi (132515)

      If I win an anti-anti-anti-missile-missile missile in a contest, what are the taxes on it? [slashdot.org]

  • by RyanFenton (230700) on Monday January 29, 2007 @05:42PM (#17805250)
    From TFA:

    'Lockheed Martin's program manager and vice president for the THAAD program... "On the expansive range at PMRF, the THAAD missile can fly greater distances, increasing our testing options and creating a realistic tactical environment"'

    The article seems to indicate that this testing is not to allow for use, but to allow for further testing. This wasn't the "prove it works" test, but rather the "we could possibly get it to work" test.

    I'm personally against the political use of such systems - it defeats the progress we've made in terms of MAD over the REAL threats to humanity in terms of nuclear weapons - politicians are already eager enough to justify use of weapons when in "this new terrorist era" or whatnot. But if it DOES work, and it does save lives, then it's development is still a net good - I'd just still be against deployment until we have direct evidence it would be necessary to save humanity. I'd much rather put 10000 times the effort into not needing such a tool, rather than spend all our efforts on a new arms race.

    Ryan Fenton
    • by kaiser423 (828989) on Monday January 29, 2007 @06:00PM (#17805472)
      No, it actually means that out on white Sands they could only shoot short-range targets. They hit those regularly. Out in the ocean by Hawaii they can shoot much longer range missiles since it's not flying over land, so they're testing the mid-range capabilities and those are working also.

      White Sands proved that they could shoot down short range missiles, and the PMRF testing is ensuring that they can hit medium range missiles. It's just another step. Now they'll try more complex geometries. But the test was nearly 100% valid as a real-world training exercise. The system works now; they're not saying "we could make it work." They're saying that it just did.
    • by Ironsides (739422) on Monday January 29, 2007 @06:08PM (#17805578) Homepage Journal
      it defeats the progress we've made in terms of MAD over the REAL threats to humanity in terms of nuclear weapons

      MAD became obsolete the moment an opponent showed up that didn't care whether they lived or died so long as you didn't survive. It was useful against the USSR and China, but not against anyone that we would not qualify as 'sane'.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by RyanFenton (230700)
        ...and not everyone would consider terrorists to be any more of a threat today than they have ever been, over the history of humanity. Terrorists are the same as any crazy person in any nation, just with a new label. Any crazy person could get ahold of a nuclear weapon - that's always a threat. Should we start another arms race on the thought that a random crazy person (terrorist) could get ahold of one? I say that we should make it a priority to STOP such escalation, rather than pile ever-larger parano
      • by frogstar_robot (926792) <frogstar_robot@yahoo.com> on Monday January 29, 2007 @06:44PM (#17806062)

        MAD became obsolete the moment an opponent showed up that didn't care whether they lived or died so long as you didn't survive. It was useful against the USSR and China, but not against anyone that we would not qualify as 'sane'.

        These people who blow up themselves up in markets and crash airplanes are mostly sexually frustrated, indoctrinated young hotheads. The older ones writing the checks and ranting and raving in these madrassas can damn well be threatened. Anyone who has enough loot to develop or buy nukes doesn't want to die either. Those who would sell nukes are also accessible to threats. I think we are being faked out by the militant muslim world to some extent. If they can get us thinking of them as maddog bomb throwing lunatics who could do anything then they've more than half won already. Look how much milage they got out of that stupid cartoon. Incidentally, Old Yeller tells us what the correct answer is when faced with a mad dog.

        All that said, I'm not some jingoistic idiot. We were incorrect to invade Iraq but we were correct to attack the Taliban. Notice the lengths Osama goes to stay alive or at least indeterminately dead? That hosebag doesn't want to die. I have no doubt that the Ayatollah of Iran has plenty of kamikazes just itching to man the planes but the leadership of that country doesn't want to die either.
      • I don't remember MAD arms race with China. The closest was a conventional war through intermediaries in Korea.

        But you make a good point there because a lot of the violence that gets noticed now is very much the kamikaze type.
  • old news...I watched it in action on "Future Weapons" on Discovery Channel last night....and that was a rerun (it aired last Monday night as a new episode).

  • So Ronald Reagan finally got his Star Wars technology eh? Queue the Star Wars music!

  • by Codename46 (889058) on Monday January 29, 2007 @05:44PM (#17805288)
    whether or not the system can defend against the recently developed random-trajectory missile [slashdot.org] developed by Russia.
    • whether or not the system can defend against the recently developed random-trajectory missile [slashdot.org] developed by Russia.

      And of course the article you linked to fails to mention whether or not the subject missile is real - or yet another Russian paper tiger.

      Since the fall of the USSR, Russia has steadily released a lot of power points with various grandiose weapons, space accomplishments, etc... etc... All of the having essentially a snowballs chance of ever seeing the light of day.

    • I am looking up articles on this missile, and I don't get it. Is it a ballistic missile or not? If it's a ballistic missile, then it has a more or less predictable path. If it could change direction significantly (start flying back up into the sky, or even go level), then that's more of a cruise missile and probably couldn't be countered with an anti ballistic missile battery. Instead, a regular air to air/surface to air missile would be used.

      If they haven't more info than "we have a missile that can't be c
    • The guidance package on THAAD is capable of homing on extremely agile targets, as it is a variant of the same intelligent imaging based homing software that is used in a myriad of other weapon systems e.g. the AIM-9X Sidewinder used for air-to-air combat. Unlike many other targets this family of guidance package has a close to perfect intercept probability on, a long-range ballistic missile is not particularly agile. If the rocket motor can deliver, the guidance package certainly can.

      A "random trajectory"
      • by Laur (673497)

        (not that we've made heat-seeking missiles in ages)
        AIM-9s and later versions are still in production and active use. I know that there are other infrared tracking missiles, but that was the first one that came to mind.
  • New Name.. (Score:3, Funny)

    by rjpear (1033976) on Monday January 29, 2007 @06:17PM (#17805694)
    Originally the System was "My name is Earl"..but NBC filed suit... Next was the "iThaad" but Apple had that... (And I think Cisco had that first...depending on what lawyer you talk to).. So now we are stuck with Thaad. They were going to paint it Brown and call it "Thune"... but the marketing folks at Lockheed thought a Brown "Thune" would be fiscal disaster even the pentagon wouldn't go for...
  • The flight test met all objectives, including demonstrating the integration of the radar, launcher, fire control and communications and interceptor operations; demonstrating radar and interceptor discrimination; and target acquisition and tracking by the interceptor's seeker.
    Somehow I can't find "we hit the target" among all the blurb. All it says is "we flew a missile and it performed as expected."
    You just have to set the right expectations.
  • Missle? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Artifex (18308) on Monday January 29, 2007 @07:36PM (#17806788) Journal
    Obviously, someone managed to shoot an i out with the thing.

I do not fear computers. I fear the lack of them. -- Isaac Asimov