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Exoatmospheric Kill Vechicle Test Successful 164

Posted by Hemos
from the KA-blam dept.
angio wrote to us with the report about the test of an interceptor missle, in the Marshall Islands, was a success. The system shot down a modified Minuteman missle - for more coverage, check out the original article on the Exoatmospheric Kill Vechicle.
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Exoatmospheric Kill Vechicle Test Successful

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  • there's no indication that the missile killer would be as successful in wartime conditions. The people operating the missile killer knew when and where the missile would be - hardly realisti. I'd like to se this thing tested with only a few minutes' warning. Then we'll see how good it _really_ is.
  • the only problem i see is if someone shot a nuke, blowing it up here or wherever is not a good idea, unless we could knock it off before it got about 10 miles away!

    ive heard about the satellites, ive heard about the ones mounted on 747's, its all good. when will they be able to have the offensive ones...
  • Could happen...


    Aaron "PooF" Matthews
    E-mail: aaron@fish.pathcom.com
    To mail me remove "fish."
    ICQ: 11391152
    Quote: "Success is the greatest revenge"
  • This does not detonate the weapon, it smashes it to its before it can detonate. it would scatter a couple kilos of Plutonium to the winds, but better than losing a city.
    ^. .^
    ( @ )
    ^. .^
  • the russians have a point in this article:

    Mutual Assured Destruction has kept the world safe for the past 50 years. with anti-missile technology, one side COULD win. since we have it, i desperately hope no one is stupid enough on our side to destroy the world...

    the really useful part of this is the fact that attacks from these smaller states like India, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq could be well detered. this assures that only the big guys: Russia, China, U.S (uk, france, north korea, etc.) could destroy the world. hmmm

    "If I had only known, I would have been a locksmith."

    -- Albert Einstein

    sigh, he was right...

  • the only problem i see is if someone shot a nuke, blowing it up here or wherever is not a good idea, unless we could knock it off before it got about 10 miles away! The whole point is to demolish the warhead, making it unable to detonate. Plus, this is an _exoatmospheric_ vehicle - meaning it is supposed to hit the weapon in outer space. Even if the warhead did detonate - which is unlikely at best - all the people underneath would get would be a big EMP. Still not great news, but better than instant vaporization, no?
  • This is cool, but what does it really mean for US missile deterrence? One missile took down another, which is a far better kill ratio than we had originally been thinking about, but does it mean we'd now be able to take out a volley of nukes, or would it still be too difficult to take out large numbers? If much of the calculations are done by the rocket itself, that's good, obviously, but is it still too difficult to intercept massive numbers? And wouldn't we be able to see missiles coming at us (we have a rather good radar system, I believe)?
    Inazuma
  • It's great to have a way to protect ourselves, but is this going to cause us to do stupid things, secure in the knowledge that we are invulnerable?
  • I dont see how a device that deactives a weapon of mass destruction could be called a weapon. Given that it doesnt even have any explosives in it. I think we should mass produce this device and sell it to every country in the world.
    --
  • I can't believe that this is the only use for this technology. Can this hit planes, too? Why not? And if not, why can't missles just get similar technology as planes (chaff, evasive maneuvers (sp?), etc) to avoid them?

    I gotta say this is pretty cool technology, but I'm not sure that it is really going to be that effective. Remember it only takes one nuclear weapon to ruin your whole day, so if 30 are coming your way, they better be pretty effective.

    -- Moondog
  • They aren't supposed to be for shooting down nukes. If you shoot down a nuke, and it explodes, you will still get the radioactive fallout. I think the best deterrance for nuclear weapons will always be diplomacy.
    These anti-missiles however are more aimed at countries such as North Korea or Iraq who are developing long range ICBM's (but who we do not believe to have nuclear capabilities). It is believed that within five years North Korea will have the ability to shoot missiles that can reach Hawaii and Alaska, possibly even California.
    I don't think there is much you can do if a nuke is hurling your way, but I suppose blowing it up and just getting radioactive fallout is better than letting it destroy a major city and getting radioactive fallout...
  • NO. It cant hit planes. This thing is an EXO-atmospheric kinetic kill vehicle. EKKV's operate outside the atmosphere and attempts to reenter will burn them up. Besides, guidance at Mach25+ reentry speeds is pretty difficult. EKKV's are only useful for destroying satellites and warheads (decoys or actual warheads). Note that patriot antimissile defense systems in the gulf which were supposed to hit the scud warheads hardly ever did. They mainly hit the falling expended outer casings of the scuds after the scuds broke apart in the atmosphere (crap iraqi engineering) due to the fact the scud body shells were larger than the explosive warhead components...if the same thjing happens in a nuclear war, MAD is guaranteed.
  • by MattXVI (82494) on Sunday October 03, 1999 @09:13AM (#1641978) Homepage
    Several posts here have missed the point of this device. It is not intended to intercept a volley of ICBMs. Rather, it could protect a region from (militarily)small countries and rogue states, like China, Iraq and North Korea, that can only afford or hide a few missles. This has nothing at all to do with Russia. They are not a direct threat to the US (right now).

    Since so few people read the original article, note also that North Korea has missle technology that can hit Chicago (as well as the entire West Coast).

    Also note that this successful test was against a fairly sophisticated Minuteman II ICBM with several decoys around it. The combined velocity at impact was 15,000 mph, or about 6 or 7 kilometers per second.

    For a transcript of a military briefing on friday that covered this click here. [drudgereport.com]

  • The policy of Mutually Assured Destruction worked for so long because the countries involved were both stable, rational countries. The problem that these anti-missle weapons fix is that of the rouge state headed by a fanatic or of a large scale terrorist organization. From what the articles say this isn't capable of or designed to prevent large scale attacks from a determined, well armed country.
  • Exactly. I'm hoping that by now, big countries are smart enough to realize that nuking people isn't a good idea.
    I'm much more afraid of terrorists or a wacko leader than any large country.
  • Cool! I knew all those Atari Missile Command game roms would come in handy!

    System is halted
  • Now the schumcks in charge will think that they can make America invisible and they will override the MAD (Mutually assured destruction) failsafe. Remember that this interceptor only has to miss once for a city to be turned into a crispy piece of toast.

    If I wanted to take out America now, I would first have soldiers infiltrate the US mainland and take out as many US radar installations as possible just about a half minute after launch. The US, thinking that it can simply blast the threat out of the sky, might not immediately launch retaliatory missiles. When their radar is knocked out, it will be too late to launch. Whee.

    Finally, the worst thing about the damn interceptor is that we will keep wasting money on worthless military toys instead of something useful like laying new fiber to increase internet bandwidth.

  • No, the device does indeed work against an ICBM with a nuclear warhead. If you destroy the missle this way, at a 140 mile altitude, it will not "explode". The warhead would be completely destroyed. Not to mention that a nuclear warhead exploding in the upper atmosphere would be relatively harmless esp. compared to one in your kitchen.
  • Well, if the objective is to deter wackos or accidental launches, then we won't NEED to deter a volley of missiles.

    I'm thinking that the probability of that happening is a lot greater than the probability of some large country deploying a whole bunch of nukes.
  • by mattdm (1931) on Sunday October 03, 1999 @09:18AM (#1641988) Homepage
    I'd like to see technology like this developed and turned over to the United Nations with a set policy that any nuclear missle originating in any country going to any country will automatically be blocked.

    --

  • Given that it doesn't even have any explosives in it.

    Yeah.. And I have some bullets here that aren't weapons either...
  • So basically it would disintegrate before an atomic reaction could take place? Neat. :)
  • I can't believe that this is the only use for this technology

    Depends on what you mean by "this technology".
    This whole project basically takes current atmospheric anit-aircraft missile technology and adapts it to exoatmospheric anti-missile use. So the basic technology already is being used for offensive purposes, and the new tech being added has no anti-aircraft use. Compare the Patriot -- an anti-aircraft missile hastily adapted to try to kill ballistic missiles.

    The system itself might theoretically be used against aircraft, except that it would be more effective and efficient to use explosive warhead SAMs designed to kill airplanes instead of kinetic-kill devices engineered to kill warheads.

    In short, what this is doing is similar to engineering a rifle variant to shoot tranquilizer darts. While you can still use a tranquilizer gun to kill people, you'd be better off using one of the unconverted rifles (SAMs) you already have.

    BTW -- if we still want MAD, we *want* the system to be only somewhat effective and fairly easy to saturate. That way we can be immune to "rouge" strikes of a handful of missiles, but we can't risk massive strikes.
  • The ICBM and warhead would be atomized, and those small particles would burn up on re-entry into the atmosphere from the altitude of 140 miles.
  • Well, if the objective is to deter wackos or accidental launches, then we won't NEED to deter a volley of missiles.

    Wackos most likely will use something other than ICBM to deliver a nuke, but even if they will, most likely missile will launch large number of fake targets simply because all missiles will have them.

  • I think we should mass produce this device and sell it to every country in the world.

    I was thinking along the same lines, but, really, why bother selling? Just give it away. Install a network of the things all over the world such that any missile launched from anywhere gets knocked out.

    Practical problems aside, of course...

  • by Anonymous Coward
    It doesn't really matter if it works under wartime conditions. Nukes are primarily political (or if you prefer, terror) weapons, not military weapons. The whole point of such a system is to reduce the utility of a marginal nuclear ICBM capability as a negotiation tactic. North Korea has periodically extorted a fair amount of aid from the US by threatening to develop various aspects of their nuclear capability. Remember the huge underground "nuclear" facility they were building? The US agreed to provide aid in order to get a peek, but found only empty tunnels. Recently they test launched an ICBM over Japan, no doubt with the intent of further extortion. With the exoatmospheric kill vehicle, the US has decided it would rather provide aid to its own weapon designers than North Korea.

    If North Korea really wanted to use a nuke, they wouldn't bother with expensive missles. They'd slap four wheels on it and a label which translates to "Maximum Leader Revolutionary Utility Vehicle" or some such and hide in the next ship full of Hyundais destined for the Bay Area.

  • I was at a party [earthdance.org] yesterday night and the test appeared to be visible in the northern sky right at sunset.

    A long fat contrail (do minutemen use H2-02?) streaked through the sky brilliantly illuminated by the then setting sun. After about two minutes or so (I wasn't timing...) the contrail spread as if the second stage had separated and the first state was slowing down. (At least so I though at the time.)

    After about another minute or so the contrail stoped and the projectile (missle/mirv/ufo) which was very slightly visible winked out of the twilight sky.

    Sidenote: At first I thought it was a plane, but I have never seen a plane contrail that large. Then when the contrail fattened out, it looked as if the missle/projectile had turned and was aimed at me/party.

    Request: If anyone happened to take any good pictures of that, it might be interesting to see them. I didn't have a camera with me so I can only post my observations...(sorry)



    Don Armstrong -".naidnE elttiL etah I"

  • I was surprised to see so many posts about how we should not proceed with missile defense, because then we will do stupid things because we will feel invulnerable.

    This makes no sense. I'll just make a few brief arguments:

    1) Mutually assured destruction is a doctrine that only applies in a situation where
    (sub-point a) there are a small number of superpowers with nuclear weapons
    and (sub-point b) the two superpowers are rational enough not to want MAD

    Now, this no longer applies. There are too many "superpowers" (if you insist on counting places like Russia). Worse, there are superpowers that are simply not rational. Take China for instance. Mao was once quoted as saying that he was not afraid of nuclear war. Why? Because China had so many people, nuclear war would only destroy the capitalist superstructure and ensure the victory of the proletariat. Not good.

    2) The real threat is not from other "superpowers" but from rogue states and terrorists.

    Think about it. Some fundamentalist jihad warrior out there decides that he wants to destroy NYC. Sure, we could threaten to retaliate against his home country or something like that, but in many cases terrorists are increasingly alienated from their westernizing homes. So, this nut case wants to take down NYC, and we are basically powerless to stop him. Think about what the destruction of NYC would mean to the US. Now, since there is simply no way to deterr this kind of behaviour, wouldn't you like at least some way to defend ourselves?

    Last point, 3) you don't leave your house unlocked just because you have an alarm system. Further (call it 3a if you want), you don't go around antagonizing gang members just because you have police in your community.
  • No. Since my tax money went to build this, I vote emphatically, absolutely, positively not. The technology transfer issues alone would make the 128-bit encryption debate seem like a drop of water next to a tsunami.

    Secondly, this is being pawned off as a defensive shield, which is nice, and non-threatening and all that -- a nice little security blanket. Well consider the fact that satellites are missiles, which merely don't have a re-entry window. Therefore this nice little shield is more than capable of taking down the entire GPS network and a major chunk of our telecommunications systems (both military and civilian).

    This thing won't stop cruise missiles or stealth so it's not a perfect shield anyway. What it will do is prevent another cold war with China, Iran, or N. Korea because right now they don't have the technology to do Stealth or Cruise. Turning these puppies over to the UN would certainly put them on the fast track though.

    I am, however, very secure that people far more paranoid than I will never allow this suggestion to become a reality :-)
  • Cnn.com [cnn.com] also has covered this story. [cnn.com] Nice picture of a vapour cloud! If that had been a nuke, wouldn't that include weapons-grade uranium, plutonium and whatever they use for h-bombs (deuterium and tritium perhaps?). These are highly toxic... would they burn in the atmosphere? I don't think I want to find out.

    Obviously this test was canned, with the Pentagon even preparing for failure. It had one decoy balloon - what about all the other types of defenses, including simple chaff? Defense mechanisms are easy and cheap, and will quickly proliferate to cancel the effectiveness of this weapon.

    Need we remember Patriot missiles? These things cost an incredible amount of money to develop, and have yet to be proven. No, they did not shoot down any Scud missiles in 1991. Those missiles broke up anyway - Isreal was saved more by the incompetents of Iraq.

    Each Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle costs $120 million. Factor in development costs. Factor in how successful it will be. Factor in how quickly it will be out of date (as defensive mechanisms are developed to counter it). I recommend taking the money and spending it on diplomacy and education to counter such threats. Stop the missiles evening being deployed!
  • "I'd like to see technology like this developed and turned over to the United Nations with a set policy that any nuclear missle originating in any country going to any country will automatically be blocked."


    Unless it's really needed, of course. I mean, if the threat of nuclear war could be eliminated, then who wouldn't support using one or two nukes to stop Saddam from taking babies out of incubators, or to stop Slobodan from torturing helpless old women? I'm sure the UN would be happy to turn off their defense system when it is deemed "necessary".

    So in other words, you're giving the UN control over the world's nuclear weapons. I'm sure Slashdot readers can carry this train of thought the rest of the way...
  • Ok, so they can't launch missiles. So what? That option isn't garruanteed anyway: a state like N. Korea can't produce reliable enough missiles.

    Other solution... smuggle a nuclear/chemical/biological weapons in to the US in suitcases and hand pick the target. Better still, bribe people and build weapons in the US - that wouldn't be anymore difficult. More reliable, cheaper and easy to carry out than a missile strike.
  • It carries a computer that enables it to determine its location by the position of certain stars and then select the target and attack it.

    Please correct me if I'm wrong, but this sounds very hard to do. Astronavigation requires at least two astronomical bodies (OK, they've got that), reasonably accurate timing (that's easy) and a horizon.

    I just think that determining the location of the horizon from this vehicle would be very hard to do. Oh, you've got to know your altitude pretty accurately, too.

    I'm not saying they didn't target it using astronav. It's just that GPS would be far easier, cheaper, and more accurate.

    What's more likely is that it has star charts on board and looks for 'stars' that shouldn't be there. Then it attacks them. That could be a neat strategy.

    It's going to have to be a lor more accurate than Patriot if it's going to be any use, anyway. Cool toy though.
  • And then every country/terrorist with a nuke will simply revert to time-tested, cheaper, endoatmospheric delivery vehicles--bombers, cruise missles, big guns, ships, Ryder rent-a-trucks...

    Good. We can do something about those. Presently, we don't have anything fielded that can stop an ICBM, which is what makes them attractive right now. Looks like a net gain for us.
  • I don't think the UN would damn an entire country, or even an entire city to wipe out one man. You're forgetting that their troops are often not allowed to fire upon others, even when they're being fired upon. I won't even get into the environmental damage that this would do, which they would never go for.
  • I'd be happier with a boost phase intercept solution. It seems like this technology would work as a last line of defense -- indeed if it is ever deployed in a comprehensive manner. With the Clinton Administration's demonstrated willingness to place restrictions on US missile defense in order to save START II (strategic arms reduction treaty: an agreement to reduce the number of deployed strategic nuclear warheads in the United States and Russia to no more than 3,500 each) with the Russians there's no telling... However from what I hear, boost phase solutions have been limited to laser sub stratospheric commercial type jets with large lasers. Not exactly ideal as they can't fly over Russian/PRC airspace. I'd love to see us return to satellite based ABM systems in geo-sync orbit over known enemy launch sites.

    As far as cold war nuclear theories such as NUT (nuclear utilization theory) and MAD (mutually assured destruction), they are no longer operable in today's climate of nuclear capable Rogue nations (e.g. Iran and North Korea). Hard to use reason with fundamentalist regimes...

    From an economic standpoint a useful byproduct of a working national missile defense system would be the alleviation of our need to pay extortion to new and old nuclear powers. Specifically, the billions of dollars we send to Russia each year, and nuclear reactors & food to North Korea... Extorting money from the U.S. has become quite a cottage industry these days, all it takes is a breeder reactor and cheap North Korean Nodong missile parts.

  • Deuterium and Tritium are as toxic as, well, Hydrogen. Uranium and Plutonium are about as toxic as lead, and far less toxic than caffeine.

    Maybe you meant radioactive, but that's an insignificant concern. You'd stand a better chance of getting hit in the head by a chunk of wreckage than getting anywhere near to a measurable dose.

    Yeah, let's remember Patriot missiles. They were ANTI-AIRCRAFT MISSILES. They were _not_ designed to take out incoming Scuds, but they had the performance to intercept them, so they were used as such because it's better than nothing.

    (The original Patriot PAC-3 missile used a proximity fuse and fragmentation warhead, since close is good enough to stop an aircraft. Newer versions are hit-to-kill.)

    Side note: "Rouge" attacks are when people menace you with cosmetics. C'mon, folks, it's spelled _Rogue_.
  • Unless it's really needed, of course. I mean, if the threat of nuclear war could be eliminated, then who wouldn't support using one or two nukes to stop Saddam from taking babies out of incubators, or to stop Slobodan from torturing helpless old women?

    This is exactly why this technology should not be implemented by any nation!! It just ups the ante and drives countries to develop even more lethal, disgusting, deadly weaponry. Why use puny nuclear weapons when a biological weapon will do 10x the damage? Of course, this is great news for the defense industry, who, ironically, is the biggest backer of this project.

    We need to return democracy to the US and get rid of the corrupt fat cats!

  • the article says that it is only good for intercepting one incoming rocket, and that is only used normally by rogue governments or terrorists. Yeah, the terrorists often do more damage than forgeign governments, but *I* am more scared of say China launching multiple rockets at us and us not being able to block em.
  • This is exactly why this technology should not be implemented by any nation!!
    Of course. Neither should nuclear weapons. Or conventional weapons, for that matter. But we have them anyway, because we have no way of ensuring that other nations will not have them. It's the old "prisoner's dilemma", which is why arms races exist in the first place.

    Folks just have to realize that anti-nuke devices are just as powerful a weapon, if not more so, than ICBMs.
  • not a counter-argument.

    After all, we might get hit by a huge tidal wave generated by godzilla playing in the ocean.

    While it is true that it may be easier to smuggle chemical weapons into the US than to launch a missile, that is no excuse for having no defense against a missile attack.
  • I really don't care too much about missle interception systems or the like, if someone wants to kill me I'm as good as dead no matter what hardware is floating around above our heads.

    But this particular article really caught my eye. Why? Because anything with the name Exoatmospheric Kill Vechicle must kick ass!

  • Plutonium dust "burned up in the atmosphere" is still plutonium and will still give you cancer, but it is much better than it exploding in a city.
  • do minutemen use H2-02?

    No. They use solid propellants. Think about how long it takes to fuel up a space shuttle before a launch, and why that would be bad for an ICBM. Not to mention what it would take to distribute and store the cryogenic H2 and O2.
  • Taking out an ICBM under controlled circumstances, doesn't mean that we're unconditionally safe by any means.

    In order to get around such a system more sophisticated decoys could be used.

    Can an anti-missile missile be defeated by an anti-anti-missile missle? This doesn't impress me. What will impress me is rail gun technology. Ground mounted or in space rail guns are the ticket.

    LK
  • I remember hearing about plans of such intercept missiles in the 80's. So they finally did it.

    However the problems are still the same. The launched rocket needs only a few minutes to its target (from Russia that would be 8 minutes I think), so the launch has to be detected early enough. The anti-missile also takes its time to reach the incoming rocket. And for each incoming nuke you need an anti-missile.

    The real problems are multi warhead missiles which launch into space and then release up to 10 nukes with individual targets. You would have to hit the missile before it releases its nukes otherwise you would have to destroy ten targets, and as said above it may be hard to reach the missile before it separates its nukes.

    So this is not very feasible against big nuclear weapon powers like Russia, it only might prove effective against attacks from the smaller nations which only have few, single warhead missiles.
  • Actually, MAD doesn't work. And it's not what has kept us kept us from getting vaporized for the last 50 years. I'm going out on a bit of a limb here, but try my logic:

    The idea of MAD is that no country will ever nuke another country when there is a potential for nuclear retaliation, because since country A has no way to prevent that retaliation, so they may as well be nuking themselves. In order for this to work, country A has to be guaranteed that country B will in fact retaliate if attacked. It's not clear that they would, and in fact it's pretty unlikely.

    Think about it. Let's say Russia launches a volley of ICBMs at us... er, the USA... right now. In a few minutes (hopefully), Bill Clinton will be asked to launch a counter-attack. He can't prevent the USA from being wiped out, no matter what he does. He can decide to take Eurasia down with us, certainly killing hundreds of millions of people, quite possibly wiping out the entire human race. (You know, nuclear winter and all.) Or he can do nothing.

    I'm reasonably sure that Clinton doesn't want to destroy the world. I'm also sure that, propaganda notwithstanding, Boris Yeltsin, Saddam Hussein, Slobodan Milosovic, or any other "world leader" wouldn't want that responsibility either. I'd even be pretty surprised if Hitler would be that evil, and he was a pretty rotten guy. Therefore, the threat of retaliation is not sufficient to prevent nuclear war.

    There is a way around this, and as a matter of fact I strongly suspect that Russia, and perhaps even the USA, has implemented it. But I've got to run, so I don't have time to explain it... Would somebody else do me a favor and bring up "doomsday machines"?

    Oh, I don't mean to dispute Russia's point, though... Anti-nuke devices would obviously tip the balance. As I said in another thread, they're really just a new, more powerful weapon of mass destruction. But since we can't prevent the bad guys from getting them, we have to get our own.
  • "The total cost of the test was about $100 million..."


    It makes me want to cry when I read about a government spending such an astronomical amount of money on what is only a one-time tryout of a military toy of dubious need. And if the government does go ahead and build an entire defense system based on this technology, how many orders of magnitude will be the total cost?

    All this in a country where hundreds of thousands of homeless people are living in the street and more than 20% of children are growing up in poverty. What benefit is this spending to them? The extremely low probability that some unknown enemy nation may launch a suicidal (and it would be since they clearly realize that the US would of course likely retaliate in kind) nuclear attack means little when you may not even survive the coming winter due to lack of food and shelter.

    The cost / benefit ratio of this project is all out of whack. The people of the US do not need this technology to be protected from foreign missles.

    The real benefit of such a system is not purely defensive, but stategic, since it would allow the US to launch a first strike nuclear attack against another nuclear country and not have to worry about retaliation from the target country. As a nation, is this the kind of benefit that Americans find it worthwile to spend their tax dollars on? And ultimately, what value is this kind of international power when the country may ultimately succumb to its own internal deterioration?

  • Your facts are a little mixed here. China is in NO way militarily small. With a population in the Billions they have the largest army in the world. It dosen't matter what kind of technology you have, you will be overwhelmed by hundreds of millions of troops coming at you. As for their nulcear weapons, they have a rather large number. Granted not as large as we do, or did, but when it comes to nukes. You don't need a lot. From the information I've been able to read china could launch an attack of several dozen missiles that could hit anywhere in the US. Not to mention the number they could launch at Hawaii and Alaska. Or at our allies in the east.

    North Koreas is BELIEVED to be DEVELOPING a missle that could hit the continental US. Their only KNOWN and WORKING missile can just reach Japan.

    And yes yes a test was sucessful. So? Patriot missile tests were 'sucessful' as well. That dosen't give them a good hit percentage. 'Official' hit percentages are always higher than 'acutual' hit percentages. Our most advanced intercept missile in operation, the Patriot, has a hit percentage of something like 30 -- 40 percent (if I remmeber correctly).

    And I think we all know just about how much salt to take with military briefings. The military is worse than politicians when it comes to 'adjusting' facts. And it's easier for them, just Classify it and they can't really find out!
  • by Rolan (20257)
    Just a simple question, why? The United Nations is a powerless political body. They can pass 'resolutions' and anything else they want. But they can't enforce anything. The members of the UN enforce these 'resolutions' and 'policies'. The US being the major member of the UN (military wise) dose the brunt of the enforcing.

    Not to mention, giving this to the UN would give it to China, Russia, and several other countries that you really don't want to have the technology!

    Why would you want to do that?!
  • If you disperse U or Pu over a city, people just put on dust masks and walk around with brooms, sweeping it up. The stuff's not water-soluble (well, _everything_ is slightly water-soluble, but it's less so than _sand_).

    The radiation from Pu is in the form of Alpha particles, which have a range of a couple _inches_ in air. The stuff can't even get through your outer dead skin cells to hurt you.

    Beta particles can be stopped by heavy clothing or a sheet of tin foil.

    Gamma radiation's the hard one to stop, but nuclear materials in bombs aren't strong gamma emitters, anyways (until they explode, of course, but that's not the scenario here). Gamma radiation is also the _least_ damaging type.

    Folks, everything around you is radioactive to a greater or lesser extent; you're getting dosed right now from the chair you're sitting in; we won't even mention the rads you're picking up from space. Eat to many bananas, and you'll flunk a whole-body radiation dose test given to nuke plant workers, because of the radioactive Potassium-40 they contain.

    And no, it's not because of nuclear tests or reactors, either.

    Radiation is not some horrid bugaboo that will make you simultaneously burn, mutate, and implode if you get a shot of it. It's also not your friend; it _can_ hurt you, so respect it.

    The same goes for fire, or electricity.

  • It carries a computer that enables it to determine its location by the position of certain stars and then select the target and attack it.
    Please correct me if I'm wrong, but this sounds very hard to do. Astronavigation requires at least two astronomical bodies (OK, they've got that), reasonably accurate timing (that's easy) and a horizon.

    It is non-trivial, but it is not hard (in the sense of the traveling-salesman problem being hard). But then, this is the technology that is being tested with this device.

    Navigation in space does not require two astronical bodies and a horizon. That's what you need for navigating a boat in the bay. In space, you don't have a horizon, and you don't need one. All you need are four stars. Three to define a plane, and the fourth, outside the plane, to define your positon on the plane. In practice, you'd want more, but ideally, four is enough. By quickly updating this information and using the accurate clock, you can determine your position, velocity and acceleration, even if you don't use any accelerometer data or inertial nav.

    Believe it or not, altitude is not at all important in the navigation, nor in guidance to rendezvous with your target, that is, meet in the same place at the same time.

    Altitude = |R| - R(earth)
    is a trivial calculation useful only for display to the men monitoring the operation of the missile.

    What's more likely is that it has star charts on board and looks for 'stars' that shouldn't be there. Then it attacks them. That could be a neat strategy.
    Of course it has star charts on board, to choose the stars to use to navigate by. Using your method, you'd still to figure out where it is in relation to all the stars in order to pick out which one didn't belong. Much easier to use a different sensor (say, radar or lidar) to track the target and calculate its trajectory. Oh yes, you can't just aim at where the target is, because when you get there, it'll be gone. You have to calculate its trajectory in order to hit it.
    Cool toy though.
    I'm sure that's what James Watt's contemporaries said about his steam engine when he first demonstrated it.
  • by mattdm (1931)
    It wouldn't necessarily have to be the UN. It could be any existing international body, or a whole new one. The point wouldn't be to give them the technology in case they feel like using it -- I doubt that any political organization could respond with the required speed. Rather, set up the system and have it live, with the set policy that any nuclear attack will be stopped.

    --

  • True.

    But it is a case of the blind leading the blind. Who is it that is knowledgeable of threat and proposing these anti-missile systems? The military. Not exactly a source of intelligence and innovation. They always use the most direct/obvious approach (sledgehammer to crack a nut?). I would propose that our tax-payers dollars are better and more productively spent on alternative means for stopping missiles, such as diplomacy.

    Why would anybody want to launch a nuclear attack against the US, who could in turn obliterate them? Spending money on investigating and solving this issue would seem wiser to me.
  • I can just imagine the song "I'm Afraid of Americans" recharting all over the world in the next few days.

    ------
  • "Deuterium and Tritium are as toxic as, well, Hydrogen. Uranium and Plutonium are about as toxic as lead, and far less toxic than caffeine.

    Maybe you meant radioactive"


    Don't split hairs - you knew what I meant.

    As another thought... what reasons do NASA use for not transporting nuclear waste into space for disposal (besides cost - which in reality is cheaper than maintaining a storage facility for over 100,000 years). Of course, it wouldn't have anything to do with the less than 100% record of space flight and thus the risk of the waste being distributed in the atmosphere.


    "They were ANTI-AIRCRAFT MISSILES. They were _not_ designed to take out incoming Scuds, but they had the performance to intercept them, so they were used as such because it's better than nothing. "

    They obviously didn't have the performance to intercept the Scuds. They were inneffective.

    They were billed as anti-missile missiles by politicians and the military, and consequently the media. This was just a political stunt to make the anti-Iraq allies look good, to quell the people opinion in Israel about their entry into the war, and to promote sales for the American defense industry. It would be naive to take anything from these people without a pinch of salt.

  • Who? Somebody who didn't care. Given that suicide bombers exist, obviously there are those that don't. The big question is how they get ahold of an ICBM.

    Either a rail car or a missile boat would do; both are mobile, and the rail cars *might* be vulnerable to ambush.
  • Great way to anger Russia. Their current (public) doctrine is that they do not renounce the first use of nuclear weapons. This largely compensates for the deterioration of their conventional forces...

    US policy also, methinks, *might* be to respond in kind to WMD. Thing is, we officially don't have any WMD of our own, except nukes.
  • All of the Anti-Missile projects I have seen actually are designed to hit the target extremely high in the atmosphere, over the ocean, or over the launching country. Part of the theory is that a country won't launch a nuke if we can shoot it down over their country and drop their own radiation back at them.
  • I guarantee that a few pounds of plutonium disintegrated upon reentry into the atmosphere will not give anybody, anywhere cancer.
  • Actually both altitude and horizon would be important for this particular application:

    Altitude, becase by exoatmospheric I assume they mean an altitude in excess of 200 miles, or outside of the Earth's atmosphere. At that height, g(antimissile) is 0.907g(surface_of_earth), which would make a huge impact on vector calculations.

    Horizon, because they have to know what vector that 0.907g is coming from.

    Also, on the subject of navication by 4 stars, this would be useless for navigation on such a small scale, as that fourth star used for position on the plane would apear as stationary to the most sophisticated sensors available unless you're talking about a translation of nearly a million miles (and the surface of the sun is too inconstant to use it as a closer source).

    Also, GPS couldn't be used reliably for navigation because it could conceivably be jammed.

    -Kevin

    "All typos are my own fault. I'm not proud."
  • I thought it was Dr. Evil's "Laser" on a moon base I like to call a "Death Star."
  • Electronic stellar navigation systems have been in use for over 40 years (example: B-58 Hustler used a Bendix/Motorola system developed in the mid-'50s...IIRC it was a point-of-failure on the early '60s spy satellites).

    In other words, there was an analog/vacuum tube solution for a problem that had been solved in prior centuries by a bloke with a sextant and a timepiece.

    Besides, you can't "jam" the stars.

    k.
  • > With the Clinton Administration giving away our nuclear secrets wholesale, this is a bit of badly needed good news.

    Yeah buddy, the Clinton Administration giving away nuclear secrets with the aid of their amazing Tom Swift time machine. You know, the one that allowed Clinton, elected in 1992, to give away the secret of the W-88 ICBM warhead in 1985.

    No, if you bother to read the fine print in the newspaper articles, rather than the cartoons on the editorial pages, you'd be aware that the secret was out the door and down the road years before that loser Clinton ever set foot in the White House. It's a well-documented fact that the nuclear-secret leaks took place during the Reagan and Bush Administrations.

    While we're mentioning China and the Bush Administration, maybe you recall President Bush's weak, gutless acquiescence to the Tiananmen Square massacre? Democracy be damned, there are big multinational corporations, big campaign contributors, who stood to face a loss if he had cut off their access to all those cheap and industrious one-dollar-a-day Chinese laborers!

    Yours WDK - WKiernan@concentric.net

  • I knew what you meant, but _you_ didn't, and you fell back on the old 'Eek! Radioactive! We're all gonna die!' reaction. The concentration of U and Pu that would reach the ground after an out-of-atmosphere intercept would be so low as to be insignificant. Repeat after me -- The dose makes the poison.

    No kidding Patriots were ineffective...I told you as much, myself, and I told you _why_ (frag warheads combined with proximity fuses). That doesn't change the fact that, yes, nearly every Patriot fired DID successfully intercept a Scud when fired. It just didn't make much difference in the trajectory of the Scud's warhead. I also told you what was changed to make it more effective (hit-to-kill fusing).

    They were billed as anti-air missiles that could, in a pinch, also be used against Scuds, because it was _all we had to do the job_. The fact that the press and folks like you took that to mean "100% reliable, we can stop 'em every time", only to later excoriate the military for making promises that they never made doesn't change that.
  • You are right, China's military is not small...but it does not have the same level of mechanization that a NATO or Eastern European military does. Nor does China have a large ICBM or SLBM force.

    http://www.fas.org/nuke/guide/china/icbm/index.h tml puts China at having about 20 ICBMs. Wyoming has 5 times that many.

    Perhaps I am wrong, but won't this technology be used for the proposed missile defence system in Japan, South Korea and perhaps Taiwan?
  • Absolutely! Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Israel, and many others would flip turkeys over having such a defense. Thanks for the clarification about China, too.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    When someone wants to take out New York, its going to be Tim McVeigh Jr. Driving a van with a nuke in it. He'll park it in Manhattan, then either detonate it and himself right there, or set a timer and watch it from the plane.

    Its completely naive to think this anti-missile system buys you any defense. An incredible waste of billions. THe US will reap what it sows.

  • I'm an American and I am glad we are building this. I'm from the part of South Dakota that used to have Minuteman missile silos. In fact I was as close to Ground Zero as anyone in the United States. I'm also from an Indian Reservation in South Dakota (Chyenne River Indian Reservation) so I have seen all the proverty, homelessness and drug addiction you can shake a bottle of Boone's Farm at.

    As far as I am concerned this missile system will be a shield not a sword.

    Would a missile defence system be worth the money if a North Korean ICBM was heading towards the Bay Area was intercepted?
  • Briefly, I think you are the one with the confused facts. China does not have a population in the "billions", they do not have "hundreds of millions" of troops, and they do not have the means to be "coming at you", if you mean the US or Europe. Or anywhere that's reached by boat.

    China has just over one billion people, and their military budget is estimated somewhere around 20 or 30 billion US dollars (less than 10% of the US's). Their army is only a few million, but there is no way they could be deployed in large numbers overseas without taking ten years to do it. Furthermore, they don't have that many "nukes". They have about a dozen ICBMs pointed at the US, and a few others pointed elsewhere. That is a threat, but not insurmountable. A few dozen Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicles would make them about useless (assuming it works out).

    As for targeting Alaska, they'd kill more polar bears than people considering the navigation on those missles isn't expected to be all that great. Hawaii isn't much better- the missle would be landing in water, almost certainly. (tidal wave!) They have undoubtedly targeted large urban areas like LA and San Francisco.

    North Korea has indeed lobbed a missle right over Japan. Nobody knows for sure where their program stands, but there is really not much holding them back, technically. Most experts seem to think they could nail Chicago very soon, if not right now. Not the recent press conference on Capitol Hill warning of that.

    Finally, yes it's true that a test is only a test. There will be lots of tests and lots of development. But last night it was demonstrated that a kinetic vehicle could nail an incoming missle with decoys in the upper atmosphere at a collion velocity of 15,000 miles per hour. I for one am impressed, and happy.

  • This is probably off-topic, but:

    secure in the knowledge that we are invulnerable?

    We may think that we're invulnerable, but we're not. We're no more invulnerable than the next country. We have no real way of knowing what another country is doing, so long as they can keep a secret. I'm willing to think, therefore, that there are a lot of countries out there not half as loud-mouth and braggy as the United States, and thus I would think we have more to worry about than the rest of the free world.

    However, in the lesser grand schema of U.S. political theories, I think this is a good thing, and I'm glad they can feel secure in their successful test. I, OTOH, think that this test doesn't say much. As I've heard it mentioned, and as I thought myself, they planned this thing, unarmed the missile, and knew where everything was supposed to go. Does real war play out like this? I'd like to think not. Nice job guys, but you've got work yet.
  • Deployment of this device would violate the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missle Treaty. But it's toast, anyway. It was made with the USSR, which no longer exists. And they were violating it when they signed it, and continued to violate it, in spite of our weak wussy Carter-era protests. Finally, the Senate is likely to formally toss it when they get ready to deploy a missle defense.
  • Not quite. The spin in the news that George Bush let the secrets slip is of the same nature of the stories of Thomas Jefferson having fathered an illegitimate child with a slave (never proven - could have been another Jefferson). Everybody does it, so don't get on MY case!

    There is a large qualitative difference between a security failure and an administration that was bought outright by the Chinese. Clinton can be charitably described as our Willy Brandt.

    Besides which, if a close examination would reveal that most of the espionage took place under previous administrations, why is Clinton stonewalling to the point that four career FBI agents (that would be four times as many as blew the whistle on Nixon) have testified to the effect that the US Department of Justice obstructed justice in the China spying case? There is every reason to think the U.S. is presently the victim of an espionage project that successfully corrupted an administration at the highest levels.

    Ah, but we can count on our fabulous press to bring us the truth and set us free. Maybe not: "Journalistic integrity must prevail in the final analysis. But that doesn't mean that journalistic integrity should be exercised in a way that is unnecessarily offensive to the countries in which you operate..." said Sumner Redstone, new owner of CBS, in Shanghai, on September 28. Gives you a deep feeling of confidence, no?

  • It's true that China has roughly four times the population of the U.S. And they have long relied upon the sheer size of their population for military purposes. This idea, however, changed in the Gulf War -- which made it all too clear that numerical superiority meant a lot less than technical capability.

    The U.S. military has, of late, shown consistent kill - to - casualty ratios of more than 1000:1. If allowed to go all-out, that ratio would probably increase.

    Yes, China has numbers, and nukes. But they're quite overmatched against the U.S. -- which is one reason they're so interested in exporting military technology: the U.S. can be kept busy better this way than China could manage alone.

    Really, though, it's a much better idea to not get into a military situation with them in the first place. We could do without another Cold War. And if it came down to it, they COULD inflict considerable damage to us, even though we'd "win".

    Kythe
    (Remove "x"'s from

  • 1. What good does an anti-missile system do if the most likely way for a terrorist to deliver a bomb is a boat? Missiles are expensive and unreliable, and hard to test without alerting the satelites. Boats are cheap, extremely reliable, and are let into harbors with a minimum of inspection.

    2. A working anti-missile defense system is an offensive weapon. I.e. that which is used as a way to defeat an enemy. Without giving out this technology to everyone, whoever has it is instantly a target for foreign governments because they know that they will lose a full-scale nucelar war. It's actually worse than that. Since we're developing this technology out in the open, the foreign governments know that they only have a few years until we cannot be beaten (if the system works). They therefore can assume that we intend to use the system as part of a first strike and preemptively retaliate.

    So, let's assume that the USA is not suicidal. The only thing we can do at this stage is declare that we are going to protect the entire world from anyone shooting balisitc missiles at anyone else. Any other course of action will result in some foreign paranoid government nuking us first while they still have a chance to hit us.

    A while back someone was talking about developing a stealth cruise missile. The idea was hopefully scrapped. The last thing we need in a paranoid world is for any random explosion to be blamed on the USA because of our unique ability to blow things up without being able to trace who did it. Anytime anything blew up, we'd get blamed.

    This anti-missile system is exactly the same thing, a way for the whole world to justifiably get mad at the USA. I wish our president wasn't chasing skirts and would pull his head out of his arse. Maybe he would see the suicidal futility of such a project.

    Back in the 50's general LeMay (sp?) was advocating a nuclear first strike against the USSR (haven't typed that in a while..) because of the results of the single game prisoner's dilemma research. Basically, if you expect to play only once, you should cheat. We expect to keep playing the politics game for a long time, over and over. We therefore have to mutually cooperate, that is the best possible solution. Building an anti-missile system is cheating. Saying that you are going to build such a system should prompt the other nations to cheat first.

    My $0.02.
  • by Flippo (96577)
    hmm, so much for MAD
    i think i'll go sell iodine tablets
    6 billion potential customers and increasing
    pentagon pays for PR, how hard can it be?
  • What makes you think Hyundai is made in N. Korea? I think it's time for a nice basic geography lesson.
  • I saw it too. I live about 50miles east of LA, near San Bernardino. I just got out of the movie theatre (saw American Beauty - excellent), and saw the people near us pointing in the sky. I actually saw the rocket going up. I'd never seen an actual launch before, but have seen the contrails left over.

    The big wispy luminescent cloud at the top was probably where the missile reached true space, about 50 miles up. The exhaust gases will behave differently there versus lower down in the atmosphere, so much so that they were actually diffracting the sunlight, giving it that rainbow effect. To see what it looked like, check out this article on CNN:
    http://www.cnn.com/US/9910/02/missile.defense.test .ap/

    I have to say the contrail was one of the most amazing things I've ever scene in the sky, seconded only by good aurora borealis shows. (I'm from Canada, so have seen quite a few). Got me to thinking about how ironic it would be if there ever were a full-scale ICBM launch. Quite a specatacular sight to see tens or hundreds of these contrails going up. At least it would be until your eyes were burned out by the flash of the first retaliatory burst...

    Anyways, if you want to see an excellent analysis of the contrail, look here:

    http://www.znet.com/~schester/fallbrook/views/co ntrail_schematic.html
    and:
    http://www.znet.com/~schester/fallbrook/views/co ntrail_23_june_1997.html
    and:
    http://www.znet.com/~schester/fallbrook/views/co ntrail_picture.html

    talljuan




  • The US already has a doomsday device of sorts in the form of its fleet of nuclear submarines. If the commanders of these subs lose contact with the US, they are supposed to launch their missles and take out the enemy.
    Well, that sort of exemplifies the difference between the popular perception of "doomsday machines", and what they are actually for. (And again, this is all theory, I have no idea if this is what the powers-that-be are actually thinking.)

    I don't know if the bit about the submarines is true (I think they only do that after a launch order has been issued, and at that point MAD really isn't a factor.) However, I believe that the Russians have publically admitted that some of their outlying missle bases are rigged to launch automatically if a full scale nuclear attack is detected. (This came up in an article about Y2K preparations, but that's another issue...) They claim that this system is intended to prevent an enemy from quickly taking out their command center, then attacking without fear of retaliation. Seems like there are better ways of doing that, though...

    The real use of a doomsday machine is to take the decision to launch out of human hands. As I explained in my previous message, no human being intelligent enough to control a nuclear arsenal would ever retaliate against a nuclear attack. Nonetheless, they have to convince the world that the will retaliate, or else there is no (well, much less) disincentive to launch a first strike. So you do whatever you can to prevent anyone from interfering with your retalation; hence the doomsday machine.
  • Patronising idiot. Don't tell me what I did and didn't mean unless, you're a mind reader.

    "The dose makes the poison" Aren't poisons toxic? QED?! Perhaps you should engage your brain before you type.

    Where did I mention "eek! radioactive!"? I'm not some kind of paranoid freak. I understand the reality, but I don't try and patronise people.

    "No kidding Patriots were ineffective...I told you as much, myself, and I told you _why_ (frag warheads combined with proximity fuses). That doesn't change the fact that, yes, nearly every Patriot fired DID successfully intercept a Scud when fired. It just didn't make much difference in the trajectory of the Scud's warhead. "

    Fool! You are obviously the one who has bought the propaganda surrounding Patriots missiles, not I. Perhaps you should go away and reconsider your definition of interception: coming close doesn't cut it. And if you knew the facts as your tone suggests, then you would also know about the evidence (which for obvious reasons, the Pentagon doesn't like to discuss) that indicates that the Scuds broke up without the influence of the Patriots. Not everybody builds ballistic missiles to the high standards that we expect.

    ". I also told you what was changed to make it more effective (hit-to-kill fusing)."

    God! You've even been brain-washed into using the same kind of buzzwords as the defense industry propaganda merchants. You make it sound so simple. Perhaps you could suggest the cure for cancer while you're at it.

    Yawn
  • But remember, unless your intent is to a) make a big hole in the ground. b) blow the hell out of a building or c) vaporize a lot of water. Nukes are most effective if they are deatonated several hundred feet off the ground. The reason for this is that the ground has a nasty tendency to take a lot of eneargy from the blast if it is deatonated at ground level. so if your intent is to kill the most peaple, or cause the most damage, stick it in a lear jet and make a low fly over a city.
  • The trick then is to have a short distance vertical launch device to hurl the nuke several 100 feet vertically before detonation.

    Something similar to those 'leapfrog' anti-personnel mines that pop up to waist level before spraying shrapnel everywhere. Just on a larger scale.

    Either that, or just place the device on the top of any large skyscraper downtown. Most urban centers have some buildings which would qualify.

    Just speculation however.

  • "And wouldn't we be able to see missiles coming at us (we have a rather good radar system, I believe)? "

    That reminds me of the stories I'd heard about the U.S. military performing tests on the ionosphere in Alaska. I can't remember many of the details, but if the experiments were successful the military would be able to develop a detection system that would make even stealth aircraft ("invisible" to radar) easy to detect.
  • > It's just that GPS would be far easier, cheaper, and more accurate.

    Not true. Until this past May, it was believed by professional rocket scientists that a rocket has too much acceleration to re-acquire GPS satellites while in flight. At least that's what they were saying in public.

    It was amateur rocket experimenters (from JP Aerospace [jpaerospace.com] of Sacramento, California) who proved that GPS in-flight re-acquisition could be done, during a high-altitude test launch at the Black Rock Desert in northern Nevada on May 23, 1999. They were attempting to get the first amateur rocket to an altitude considered space, 50 miles or 264,000 feet. Though that wasn't achieved, they did make these accomplishments:

    • the first-ever FAA Space Launch Permit for an amateur rocket
    • a new amateur rocketry altitude record
    • proved that GPS can be used for navigation by a rocket

    I was there to help with the launch and recovery operation. I'm not officially a member of the JPA organization but was there representing another amateur rocketry organization [erps.org]. We usually encourage each other to push the envelope.

    See also CNN's coverage of the JPA launch [cnn.com], though they didn't mention the GPS accomplishment because it's probably too obscure a fact for their audience.

  • i also saw it, and it was pretty amazing. i believe the missile was launched from Vandenberg AFB. i live in Rialto CA and it was completely visible from where i was watching on my roof
  • I was driving up to the local coffee shop when I saw it. I have to say, it was an oddly beautiful site as the trail blossomed and then faded, and as the sun light refracted through the smoke to create a range of colors.

    Of course, I had no idea what it was -- we thought it was just another rocket blowing up due probably to some metric to english conversion error...

    Not worth $100 million.

  • Ok, so they can't launch missiles. So what? That option isn't garruanteed anyway: a state like N. Korea can't produce reliable enough missiles.


    Not true. It is know they already have missles capable of reaching Alaska, and of course, when your a totalitarian state who could care less about feeding the people, getting the cash to improve them is easy.

  • Yeah buddy, the Clinton Administration giving away nuclear secrets with the aid of their amazing Tom Swift time machine. You know, the one
    that allowed Clinton, elected in 1992, to give away the secret of the W-88 ICBM warhead in 1985.

    No, if you bother to read the fine print in the newspaper articles, rather than the cartoons on the editorial pages, you'd be aware that the secret was out the door and down the road years before that loser Clinton ever set foot in the White House. It's a well-documented fact that the nuclear-secret leaks took place during the Reagan and Bush Administrations.


    Yes, there was secrets stolen during the Reagan and Bush adminstrations. No one's really disputing that. What's worse is we know that it was only until Clinton administration that it was known, yet they sat on the information.

    The former is at most incompetance, the latter is treason.


    While we're mentioning China and the Bush Administration, maybe you recall President Bush's weak, gutless acquiescence to the Tiananmen Square massacre? Democracy be damned, there are big multinational corporations, big campaign contributors, who stood to face a loss if he had cut off their access to all those cheap and industrious one-dollar-a-day Chinese laborers!


    Yes, Bush totally screwed up Tiananmen. All and all, Bush was a mediocre President who pailed in comparison to his former boss.

  • The Russians already have a working and recently (80's) upgraded ABM system. It is no surprise that they object to this system.

    I do not believe that any ABM system in the forseeable future will be able to destabilize the nuclear "balance of terror" because it would have to work almost perfectly to avoid unacceptable damage, and that is not going to happen.

    However, it has a stabilizing effect by increasing the uncertainty of success of a first strike. For a first strike to be successful, it must destroy most (really, almost all) of the target country's retaliatory force. If only a couple of MIRV'ed missiles were left after a first strike, it would be enough to play havoc on the attacker's cities.

  • I have been wondering why the ABM approach these days is to ram the incoming target with an interceptor, destroying that target by the high kinetic energy of a multiple km/sec collision.

    It would seem that this would make aiming harder than the older method used by the Patriot and other anti-aircraft/anti-missile systems. Those systems use an explosive, detonated at closest approach, to throw a spray of high velocity projectiles at the incoming target. This "shotgun" approach would seem to me to have a higher kill probability. In the past, we had thousands of nuclear armed interceptors, so the same issue applies to that technology. For example, fleet defense doctrine against massed aircraft attack was to use nuclear missiles to destroy the aircraft... and almost every US combatant, in the past, carried these missiles!

    So, does anyone know why they now use kinetic kill with a single maneuverable projectile?
  • I wondered what it was... never seen anything like
    that in person before...
    I was standing at the Overton Beach Marina (Lake Mead
    about 80 miles from Las Vegas, NV) and saw a
    VERY bright missle take off.... Pretty dang cool.

    I'd read the origional article.. but never expected to
    see the actual missle launch. :> Neato-Keen :P
  • Actually both altitude and horizon would be important for this particular application:

    Altitude, becase by exoatmospheric I assume they mean an altitude in excess of 200 miles, or outside of the Earth's atmosphere. At that height, g(antimissile) is 0.907g(surface_of_earth), which would make a huge impact on vector calculations.

    Horizon, because they have to know what vector that 0.907g is coming from.


    Close. You are correct in that you have to know the vector. You are incorrect in assuming that either altitude or horizon are components of the vector. The vector is a position vector in the (probably Aries Mean of 2000) inertial coordinate system, with components x,y,z consisting of distance (feet or meters) from the center of the earth along the axes. Considering only the central body effect, the force of gravity is computed using

    for ( axis = 0; axis ( 3 ; axis++ )
    f[axis] = (G * Me * Mi)/(R*R*R) * R[axis];

    where
    Me = Mass of the earth,
    Mi = Mass of the interceptor,
    G = the universal gravity constant,
    R = the magnitude of the position vector ,
    R[i] = the position of the interceptor in the inertial coordinate system,
    f[i] = the force acting on the interceptor caused by gravity.

    Higher order effects are functions of latitude and longitude, which are easily derived from the position vector.

    Exoatmospheric generally means above 100 km, or ~60 miles, though I doubt that this is a constraint in the targetting calculations, since it is better to have the intercept take place at a lower altitude than not at all.

    Also, on the subject of navication by 4 stars, this would be useless for navigation on such a small scale, as that fourth star used for position on the plane would apear as stationary to the most sophisticated sensors available unless you're talking about a translation of nearly a million miles (and the surface of the sun is too inconstant to use it as a closer source).
    Of course they appear stationary. That's why they can be used for navigation. To establish your position, you need to establish your position relative to points whose positions are known. What is the translation of nearly a million miles? The radius of the earth is 3444 nautical miles and is irrelevant to inertial navigation. The radius of the earth's orbit around the sun is ~93 million miles, and is still irrelevant to inertial navigation around the earth. The sun has no "surface." It is not a good navigation reference because it is too big and too bright to get an accurate fix on.

    Might I recommend a course in orbital mechanics? You need really, really big wrenches.

  • Well it was definately part of the plot of one of Spider Robinson's novels. It's true - missiles are a showy and relatively crappy delivery system. With all the crap that gets smuggled into this country, how hard could it be to sneak in ~50 kilos of unassuming metal? AFAIK, customs doesn't have dogs with geiger counters.
  • I was attending a volleyball game and as we were going in we saw it! i didn't know what it was till i saw it on the news. it was so bright, it lit up the night sky. very cool!
    JediLuke
  • If we can afford to lay that out for a test firing, I guess it puts that NASA Mars orbiter loss into perspective.
  • A couple of points:

    1) The threat of nuclear war sucks. I think we both agree on this.

    2) Russia doesn't look too fondly on this since we have a treaty that prohibits us from developing an anti-ballistic missile program. They like the freedoms their retaliatory capability provides them. Russia, however, has a limited ABM system using nuclear warheads to protect Moscow (their command and control?).

    3) The projected cost of the development of this system is $10.5 billion dollars. That's an awfully generous gift to an organization with whom we don't always agree (even though we can agree that a nuclear war would be very bad). While the United Nations may seek to promote peace, the only way it can enforce this is through eventual usurpation of the sovereign powers of our nation.

    4) This system won't prevent an all-out nuclear strike (or at least that's what we are being told). This may be the spin to avoid pissing off the Russians while we bring the system online. Regardless, this system only protects us against intercontinental exoatmospheric missiles. "Backpack" nukes and missiles designed to stay in the atmosphere (nuclear cruise missiles?) won't be affected by this system. Maybe the thinking is that third-world "rogue" nations aren't quite there wrt cruise missiles and even if they are, these missiles are vulnerable to conventional munitions.

    5) Conventional bombs will continue to kill far more people than nuclear weapons, IMHO.

    Synaptic
  • Ok, so if they shoot a slug at a reentry vehicle containing a warhead and atomize it in space, has there been any discussion about using this device to ward off a stray comet, meteor, or asteroid that could cause significant damage to the Earth?

    It seems that this system may serve a dual purpose, at least over North America.

    That is if the spacebound oil drillers don't blow up the asteroid first. :)
  • A couple of points:

    1) The threat of nuclear war sucks. I think we both agree on this.

    Yes

    2) Russia doesn't look too fondly on this since we have a treaty that prohibits us from developing an anti-ballistic missile program. They like the freedoms their retaliatory capability provides them. Russia, however, has a limited ABM system using nuclear warheads to protect Moscow (their command and control?). The ABM treaty says that

    a. US and Russia may have one ABM system.

    b. It must protect missile silos

    c. Dictates where it can be placed and tested

    d. Dictates how it can be tested.

    Current negotiations are going on to allow the US to place the system (interceptors) in Alaska and not Grand Forks as the treaty states.

    The Russian ABM system is how you state it Anti-Nuke Nukes and protects Moscow and the very small missile field near it.

    I am not commenting on #3

    4) This system won't prevent an all-out nuclear strike (or at least that's what we are being told). This may be the spin to avoid pissing off the Russians while we bring the system online. Regardless, this system only protects us against intercontinental exoatmospheric missiles. "Backpack" nukes and missiles designed to stay in the atmosphere (nuclear cruise missiles?) won't be affected by this system. Maybe the thinking is that third-world "rogue" nations aren't quite there wrt cruise missiles and even if they are, these missiles are vulnerable to conventional munitions.

    That is exactly correct. Not that this is not a mobile system. They put the interceptors in silos. You are right in thinking that the conventional wisdon is that rogue nations do not have the ability to moke cruise missiles. Although I have heard rumors on National Cruise Missile Defense being worked on. As for backpack nukes... thats terrorism and not war. Ask the FBI what they are doing.

    Not commenting on #5

    Robert Wright

  • Yes. The old shotgun approach is very unrealiable. With nukes one getting through is not enough, all must be destroyed. Imagine the volume of space a radar can pinpoint an incoming RV as being in. It is very very large. Then look at the size of an RV , small actually. Then calculate the number of submunisions that you would need to fill the volume with in order to ensure a hit on the RV. And a good hit not one that mearly injures the RV. You would need a very large number of submunisions which would need a large booster. And what have you saved?

    If you put guidance on the interceptor to reduce the volume the RV is in. It becomes more effective to just use the interceptor itself as the kill mechanism.

    Lastly, the US deployed a nuclear armed interceptor fleet. For six months. We then decommisioned it. All back in the late '70s. You try selling to congress large fleets of nukes that we blow up over our own country to fend off other nukes. It just doesnt work.

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