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    Missile Defense

Technology has always found its greatest consumer in a nation's war and defense efforts. Since the last attempts at a "Star Wars" defense system, has technology changed considerably enough to make the latest Missile Defense initiatives more successful? Can such an application of science be successful? Is a militarized space inevitable, necessary or impossible?

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wrcooper - 12:02pm Jun 23, 2000 EST (#99 of 11858)

From Inscight:

Posted 12 June 2000, 5 pm PST

Researchers Target Missile Defense Flaws

Washington, D.C.--U.S. researchers are stepping up efforts to shoot down a proposed missile defense system. More than three dozen scientists journeyed to the Capitol today to warn lawmakers that the $60 billion system, designed to knock incoming warheads out of the sky, is technically flawed because it can't distinguish real warheads from decoys. The rally came as Pentagon officials heatedly denied one scientist's charges that they have rigged tests to hide the problem. The national missile defense system is supposed to seek out and destroy intercontinental warheads high above Earth's atmosphere, using high-speed "kill vehicles" to shatter targets with brute force. Current plans call for a limited defense, starting with 20 Alaska-based interceptors by 2005 and reaching 100 in 2007, that could blunt a missile threat from North Korea, Iraq, and other so-called "rogue states." But President Bill Clinton has said he will wait until after a fifth interceptor test next month to decide whether to proceed. Scientists at today's rally, organized by the Union of Concerned Scientists, urged Clinton to delay the decision, arguing that the carefully controlled test won't determine if the system will work against real targets. "The [system] is not capable of handling countermeasures," such as hiding a warhead amidst a flotilla of shiny balloons or warhead-shaped dummies, said physicist Kurt Gottfried of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. The tests have been "a scientific hoax," adds physicist and nuclear engineer Theodore Postol of the Security Studies Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After analyzing data from a 1997 test flight, Postol concluded that Pentagon engineers ignored evidence that their sensors couldn't recognize a decoy, then rigged future tests by reducing the number of the dummies. Pentagon officials admit simplifying some tests to speed development, but "categorically deny that we're fixing the flights," Jacques Gansler, undersecretary of defense for acquisition and technology, told reporters. New sensors, computers, and radars not analyzed by Postol, other officials say, will ensure that the kill vehicles hit their targets. But the technical dispute is undermining political support for the program, which is already facing international opposition. If the system can't tell "a phony [missile] from a real one," says the Senate's top Democrat, South Dakota's Tom Daschle, "I don't know that we're ready to commit resources." --David Malakoff and Adrian Cho

zimbabwe2b - 09:52pm Jun 29, 2000 EST (#100 of 11858)

Back during Desert Storm, I saw a lot of Patriot Missiles being launched, but there was no footage of an actual interception, in fact, all the explosions were behind cloud cover.

With all the hooting and hollering you would have thought we shot one up Saddam's ass.

palousereader - 08:07am Jun 30, 2000 EST (#101 of 11858)

"A Missile Defense With Limits: The ABC's of the Clinton Plan". Thanks for today's article outlining the defense system. For we nonexperts, it's hard to visualize how this would work. I guess I think in the short term it might be better to admit we still don't have the technology to have the 'kill vehicle' distinguish between a real warhead and decoys, but keep up the research in this area.

In the meantime, turn the 'kill vehicle' into a containment vehicle carrying many (as many as there might be decoys) small heat-seeking or laser firing missles that would attack ALL of the incoming objects, real or decoy. Kind of a shotgun approach. This might also cut down on the tracking/assisting ground stations necessary.

So you'd have a missle launch, a containment vehicle and once that vehicle is within range, it opens up and 'launches' the many small missles attacking all of the opposition's real/decoy items.

Due to cost and the inevitable shield race/stealing of secrets, we should share the cost, research and science with the EU, Russia and China, India, etc. If we all had this type of system- well, we can move on to the next round of threat/counter-threat, whatever form that might take. Until we realize we'd just better learn to get along.

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