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US Missile Defense Test Fails 317

Posted by kdawson
from the bullet-with-a-bullet dept.
KingRobot sends news that a recent test of a US missile defense system has failed. The test of the Groundbased Midcourse Defense interceptor apparently had a problem with the sea-based X-band radar. Both the target missile, launched from the Pacific, and the interceptor, launched from California, performed as expected. "Yesterday's test was intended to quell doubters of the entire missile-defense approach, with the target missile deploying countermeasures. Critics of the GMD programme say that tests thus far, which have not included such spoilers, have been too kind to the intercept tech. The [military] isn't disclosing whether the intercepting kill vehicle had simply failed to reach the 'threat cluster' of warhead(s) and decoys, or whether it had reached the cluster but hit a countermeasure rather than the actual target."
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US Missile Defense Test Fails

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Fire Zee Mizzilez!!!!

  • "fails" (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Gothmolly (148874) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @08:14AM (#30994034)

    "Now Commander, that torpedo did NOT self-destruct. You heard it hit the hull, and I was never here."

    Sure it failed.

    • by Shakrai (717556)

      "Now Commander, that torpedo did NOT self-destruct. You heard it hit the hull, and I was never here."

      Another example of the movie sucking ass compared to the book.....

      • by jgtg32a (1173373)

        ...
        Wow, I really need to read the book then

  • by dkleinsc (563838)

    There is exactly one instance of missile defense working that I'm aware of, namely combating Iraqi Scud missiles back around 1993.

    But the important thing to realize about this version of missile defense (and its predecessor, Star Wars) is that they don't need to work to accomplish their real purpose, which is funneling large sums of taxpayer cash to defense contractors.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Havokmon (89874)
      We should also just get rid of guns because not all bullets are effective. ;) And to echo a troll above(Right, because taking out missiles before they reach us isnt important. While visiting a giant rock in space is beneficial.), the science that comes out of these contracts is far more beneficial than the actual product.
      • We should also just get rid of guns because not all bullets are effective.

        I've often thought that the common citizenry like ourselves should be bludgeoning in the heads of people who manufacture and sell weapons with rocks when we see them at the mall or out walking their dog. Is that what you mean?
        • by Havokmon (89874)

          We should also just get rid of guns because not all bullets are effective.
          I've often thought that the common citizenry like ourselves should be bludgeoning in the heads of people who manufacture and sell weapons with rocks when we see them at the mall or out walking their dog. Is that what you mean?

          No, but that's exactly why I have no problem with open carry laws. :)

      • We should also just get rid of guns[...]

        Sounds great!

      • by dkleinsc (563838)

        Actually, taking out missiles before they reach us isn't all that important, because anyone with missiles that can reach the United States (a fairly short list: China, Russia, Britain, France, Canada, maybe Mexico and Cuba) knows about Mutually Assured Destruction, and isn't completely suicidal.

    • by linuxgurugamer (917289) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @08:40AM (#30994278) Homepage

      Actually, you're wrong.

      In the first place, the Patriot missiles were only partially successful. Since they weren't intended for the purpose of defending large areas, that is acceptable, and they've been improved since them. But the Patriot missiles are a short range defense.

      There have been previous successful tests. A simple google search turned up the following:

      Reuters [reuters.com]
      Military Defense Agency [mda.mil]
      Heritage Foundation [heritage.org]

      • If I remember correctly, they were designed for anti-aircraft. While they were good at hitting scuds, they weren't good at bringing them down effectively. Of course, that never stopped the corporate/media PR campaign for them.
      • This system has been failing since at least the late 90's (That's when I first started tracking it in the Marine Corps). The few successes it has had have been predefined configurations where they had a known flight path and pre-set intercept path. The entire thing is staged. And what's worse is that it fails even the majority of these staged intercepts.

        People balked when Obama talked about dropping the missile shield in eastern Europe but honestly, these missile defense systems are a joke. They would do sq

    • by Rogerborg (306625) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @08:40AM (#30994286) Homepage

      Funny you should mention that. The effectiveness of Patriots in Gulf War I is hotly [fas.org] contested [fas.org].

      Both sides rely on subjective arguments about what constitutes a "successful intercept", neither have any hard data on how many (if any) Scuds were actually downed, and the folks that were having the Scuds aimed at them said that they were getting through pretty well, so I'd have to conclude that the preponderance of evidence is that Patriot was a propaganda weapon in Gulf War I.

      I should note that plenty of money has been thrown at defence contractors since then, and there's certainly no technical reason why AMBs can't work. It's just that nobody has shown that they do.

      • and there's certainly no technical reason why AMBs can't work

        Sure there is. A dumb missile is always going to be a couple orders of magnitude cheaper to build than an interceptor. All the enemy has to do is keep firing until we run out of interceptors, or fire a volley with enough targets that we can't accurately track them, or saturate the radar installations with attacks until one finally gets through (a >90% success rate would be pretty incredible, and it only takes one well aimed missile to take out a target).

        A missile defense system can only ever work again

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Idbar (1034346)
      And since they allegedly failed, they will of course need some extra cash for "improvements".
    • their real purpose, which is funneling large sums of taxpayer cash to defense contractors.

      That may be true, but this is the best kind of corruption the military-industrial-congressional complex can have: defense R&D. I would much prefer seeing my money spent on scientists and engineers in the states than on offensive, unnecessary overseas wars.

      We don't need a large standing army. Having a small group with the best technology at their disposal is the better way to go.

  • Oh no!

    The government has a glitch with an insanely complex missile system.
    Good to know, but *Yawn* "Film at 11" me and wake me when it's fixed.

  • by noidentity (188756) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @08:29AM (#30994168)

    Did the test fail, or the missle? The difference is that a failed test means you don't get any useful information about the device under test, whereas a successful test means that you found out whatever you wanted to know about the device under test.

    Example: a test to determine whether a cellphone fails when immersed in water. If you find that your water has been shut off, you have a failed test, because you can't even try immersing the phone in water. If your water works and you immerse the phone and it stops working, the test is successful and your result is that the phone failed. If it still works, then you have a successful test and a phone that didn't fail.

    </pedant>

    • by toleraen (831634) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @08:40AM (#30994284)
      Even my minimal 3 years as a test engineer knows that your pedant tag doesn't apply. If a test fails that doesn't mean you didn't get any information at all, it means you have pass/fail criteria set for a specific test and if you didn't meet the pass criteria (e.g., you didn't intercept the threat cluster) your test fails.
    • by Golddess (1361003)

      a recent test of a US missile defense system has failed.

      Both the target missile [...] and the interceptor [...] performed as expected.

      Reading those two lines, I think the missiles failed to fail?

  • by nacturation (646836) * <nacturation AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @08:37AM (#30994252) Journal

    Few people know the real story behind this, which is quickly being covered up. The sea-based X-band radar failed because it stopped mid-test to install a Windows update. As all available bandwidth was consumed by the critical IE6 patch, the message "Please wait while Windows installs your updates. You will be able to resume your hostilities at the conclusion of this operation."

    • I know you were being funny, but it's kinda sad how close your comment is to reality. Much military hardware, including the entire ships' systems that carry SM3s, are run on Windows. Win 2000 I believe. I can't imagine it being a good idea, but they've done it.
      • by steelfood (895457)

        I know you were being funny, but it's kinda sad how close your comment is to reality.

        They actually had to reboot their machines before they were able to continue.

  • by yellekc (819322) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @08:45AM (#30994328)
    This system will still force our adversaries to build more complex rockets and delivery systems. Rocket science is tough even for the Russians, Chinese, and North Koreans. So maybe in their attempt to upgrade their rockets to bypass our barely working defense systems, they will make even more mistakes than we did, and their rockets will fail all on their own. Based on resent missile test from Russia and North Korea it might just work.
    • by cptdondo (59460)

      Hehe... One reason the Iraqi Scuds were so hard to bring down is that they broke up and tumbled on the descent, throwing out all sorts of debris and also making their descent hard to predict.

      It's damn hard to bring down a missile in flight (do the math on the approach velocities and the accuracy required). It's easy to spew out debris and confuse the defense. High tech can't really take on low tech in some things.

    • by Yvanhoe (564877)
      I know of a probable failure of a North Korean launch, but what do you mean about Russia. The last time I checked, they were #1 when it comes to build missiles. Theirs have long range, counter-measures and even include anti-laser protection. What is the failure you are refering to ?
  • Who still uses X band? Ka band and Laser are used more.

    • by ArcherB (796902)

      Who still uses X band? Ka band and Laser are used more.

      The "X" makes it sound cool.

  • mainly because iran employs a diabolical tactic that no american interceptor can defeat: if a missile of their's is shot down, they merely photoshop some more:

    http://www.boingboing.net/2008/07/10/iran-you-suck-at-pho.html [boingboing.net]

    however, i would encourage american military planners to adopt iran's own dark tactics against it, and photoshop lots of missile interceptors. that should do the trick

    and if the combined powers of fark photoshop and 4chan were militarized, we could bury iranian internet warriors in sheer vo

  • If you haven't seen the West Wing, this is what it says about missile defense. [youtube.com]

    Good Grief!
  • by mathimus1863 (1120437) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @09:17AM (#30994680)
    I know everyone is freaking out about how missile defense is defective by design and this proves their greatest concerns. However, go look up Aegis BMD/SM3, which is one of the other missile defense programs. It's the most successful program so far, having something like 12/15 successful flight tests. And not all the tests are hand-holding exercises, including the satellite shoot-down, which was remarkable since SM3 was not designed for that. I believe THAAD has also had some recent, successful flight tests too. In fact, I'm pretty sure GMD is the one missile defense program that hasn't had any successful tests. I don't know why we still give Boeing money.
  • So if the missile defense system doesn't 100% work on the first try with a realistic test, then the entire program was a waste of money and we should give up immediately? By that logic we should have canceled the Apollo project after Apollo 1...

    • by edremy (36408)
      No, it's a question of allocation of resources. If we had infinite resources, sure, build a missile defense shield.

      But we don't. Those dollars could go to something that actually might make us safer, like better detection of people trying to ship a nuke (or bio warhead) into a US port on a container ship. Or to better fighting the Taliban in Afganistan. Or to better satellite surveillance of hostile nations. Or improved HUMINT in countries where we have very few assets.

      Or perhaps just to reducing o

  • Shrug (Score:4, Insightful)

    by argStyopa (232550) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @09:32AM (#30994888) Journal

    I dunno, isn't it more credible if some tests DO fail?

    It's a government contract - of COURSE it's rife with collusion, padding, selective data, etc. Doesn't mean we shouldn't try to develop the tech.

  • This is the equivalent of shooting a bullet out of the air, with another bullet.

    And that's just not possible.

    This whole idea should never ever have passed the first smell test. The only question people should ask now is "Who is benefitting from this?"

    Any project with a budget as large as ... well, the amount that's been wasted on this, needs to be able show proof of concept, set targets, meet them, and have a fixed deadline. Otherwise, you're just pissing away good money after bad.

  • I remember following our "missile defense" tests in the news about 6-7 years ago. The tests kept failing until the military stuck a GPS unit or some such in the target and scored a hit. They then proudly proclaimed success. I though, "how stupid do they think we are?" Then, I watched the misinformation campaign unfold where that little detail of the doctored test was omitted and only the "Missile test hits target" continued to propagate through the media. We crossed the line into complete Corporatism a
  • by tjstork (137384) <todd@bandrowsky.gmail@com> on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @12:56PM (#30998468) Homepage Journal

    The NMD was probably sabotaged by leftists in league with the Obama administration. They want the USA to be a giant and defenseless nuclear target so all the third world people can take their revenge upon the evil Americans. There would be nothing that would make the leftists happier than a bunch of white cities in ruins.

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