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Math The Military Technology

Missile Defense's Real Enemy: Math 589

An anonymous reader writes "Since the 1960s until the present day, missile defense has been a hot topic. Ronald Reagan popularized the concept with his 'Star Wars' multi-billion dollar plan to use lasers and various technologies to destroy incoming Soviet warheads. Today, America has a sizable sea-based system, dubbed AEGIS, that has been deployed to defend against rogue states missiles, both conventional and nuclear. However, there is one thing missile defense can't beat: simple math. 'Think about it — could we someday see a scenario where American forces at sea with a fixed amount of defensive countermeasures face an enemy with large numbers of cruise and ballistic weapons that have the potential to simply overwhelm them? Could a potential adversary fire off older weapons that are not as accurate (PDF), causing a defensive response that exhausts all available missile interceptors so more advanced weapons with better accuracy can deliver the crushing blow? Simply put: does math win?'"
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Missile Defense's Real Enemy: Math

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  • That's not math (Score:5, Informative)

    by jader3rd ( 2222716 ) on Friday February 01, 2013 @02:02PM (#42762907)
    That's not math, that's known as attrition.
    Sometimes you don't need the better soldiers, you just need more soldiers.
  • Math? (Score:5, Informative)

    by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Friday February 01, 2013 @02:06PM (#42762963) Journal
    Is this what we have degenerated to? When I read the title, I thought, "wow, someone has done the calculations to find the weak spots in the trajectories of the defense missiles or can calculate live the precise way to avoid them."

    No. When they say math, they mean, "a lot." Nothing more mathematical than that. Shoot a lot of projectiles at the target, and one of them will get through. We've degenerated mathematically past the level of a two-year-old and down to that of a rat or something. Chickens can even distinguish between 'a lot' and 'a little.'
  • by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Friday February 01, 2013 @02:09PM (#42763011)

    Israel's defense system has a simple solution. It's programmed with a map showing which areas are populated, and which expendable. On detecting an incoming rocket*, it estimates the impact site and only fires an interceptor if it is heading for somewhere populated.

    *The ones Israel is being showered with at the moment are numerous, but very cheap and simple - barely even guided, just enough to hit the right city, sometimes.

  • Um, really? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Zcar ( 756484 ) on Friday February 01, 2013 @02:15PM (#42763105)

    Ever since the advent of anti-ship missiles, a big part of naval surface warfare tactics has been managing to get enough anti-ship missiles on target at the same time to overwhelm the target ships' defenses, so this is pretty much "Duh!"

    Also, AEGIS is a 1970s naval air defense technology for protecting against anti-ship missiles and aircraft. It's only recently had an ABM capability added. It is true, as I understand it from public sources, that the VLS systems most often used with AEGIS are difficult at best to resupply at sea and pretty much is never done.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 01, 2013 @03:11PM (#42763891)

    I've never figured out why an average person on a day to day basis would need to know things like trigonometry, calculus, complex numbers, or things like Laplace Transforms. OTOH, Math courses would do well to introduce Binary Arithmetic and Boolean Algebra at school level, so that kids get up to speed on those things early, and can segway from there into either programming, or logic design.

    You seem to make two entirely opposite points.

    Why would your average person need to know Binary Arithmetic and Boolean Algebra either, if your first thought is true? And by the way is 'segue' not 'segway'.

    It's a pretty narrow view to think advanced math is not needed for programming. For instance much the software we write in my profession uses trigonometry, calculus, complex numbers, Fourier transforms, and Hilbert transforms, just to mention a few things.

  • by rahvin112 ( 446269 ) on Friday February 01, 2013 @06:13PM (#42766031)

    You act as if the Navy learned nothing from that. They learned plenty, operational plans changed, engagement tactics have changed and how to react to small vessels has changed.

    As has been pointed many times on Slashdot, the Navy's plan for Iran is to sit outside the gulf in the Arabian sea where those small vessels can't reach. They then use air-power to wipe out all those vessels, docks and marinas that could be used before they move any ship back into the gulf.

    Everyone likes to run around and say the Navy is a bunch of idiots and they ignored the problem by refloating the group and restarting the war game. The point is that what they could learn from those tactics had been learned and that there wouldn't have been value in continuing the war game on the same rules or declaring the games over while they were spending the money on the games. In other words they learned what they could then continued to learn more about different things. Now there are morons on the DOD that want to build Littoral combat ships but from what I understand they are in the extreme minority. Most of the Navy's leadership understands that the value in a navy is in the carrier grouping and it's air power, not the combat vessels. The future of the navy is to dramatically scale down the number of personal on board with automation and potentially even bring about carriers that carry massive numbers of drones along with carrier groupings armed with rail guns and other offensive weapons that allow even further stand off power.

If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants. -- Isaac Newton