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    Missile Defense

Nazi engineer and Disney space advisor Wernher Von Braun helped give us rocket science. Today, the legacy of military aeronautics has many manifestations from SDI to advanced ballistic missiles. Now there is a controversial push for a new missile defense system. What will be the role of missile defense in the new geopolitical climate and in the new scientific era?

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dirac_10 - 03:39pm Jan 4, 2001 EST (#532 of 540)

Building an ABM system is pathetically easy.

I mean, Israel just bought some American lasers that will take out a jet airplane or short range rocket at 10 km.

Amazing how so many otherwise informed folks don't know that this death-ray, Buck Rogers laser already exists and is being deployed.

I suspect the Israeli army is not fools on how to spend their money on defense.

It would of course immediately violate the ABM treaty if we deployed it. Therefore we sold it.

Now I know quite well that hitting a 2000 km/hr jet at 10 km is a lot easier than hitting a 20,000 km/hr ICBM at 100 km.

And of course the existing death-ray laser has to stay on the target for 10 to 20 seconds to destroy it.

But this is rinky dink stuff with rinky dink money spent on it. If we spent the kind of money we did on the Manhattan Project, we could make ICBM's obsolete.

Like the battleship.

Or the cavalry.

Speed of light. And a burst from a laser is vastly cheaper and more abundant than an ICBM.

Focusing past the atmosphere is child's play. All the modern telescopes have adjustable multiple mirrors. Ultra precise computer control to adjust out any thermal effects on the mirror, etc. The new trick is that they use other telescopes looking through the same spot in the atmosphere from different angles at fixed stars. This data is sent to the main telescope computer which adjusts the mirrors to cancel out the atmospheric distortion. They say it may make the Hubble and it's successor obsolete. No more problem with the atmosphere.

The exact same thing will work to focus a laser past the atmosphere.

All it takes is a few cheap engineering tricks, there is no physics problem.

And yes, Saddam could still smuggle in a mason jar of smallpox, and probably will if we don't do something, but there is a reason that the US and the USSR don't rely on mason jars. There is a reason that the ICBM's are by far the most important deterrent. And if Saddam was caught bringing in a mason jar, a hard rain would fall in Iraq. One should entertain the idea that we ain't quite as stupid as we look at all times. And I suspect he does.

bigred152 - 10:50pm Jan 5, 2001 EST (#533 of 540)

Balkans syndrome now reported in returned British Peace Keepers ... doesn't go down too well with family members .. and brings back the focus to the harm done to individual 'workers' who die, and thus can no longer provide for their families!

dirac_10 - 12:39am Jan 6, 2001 EST (#534 of 540)

bigred152 - 10:50pm Jan 5, 2001 EST (#533 of 533)

And your point is? You think beaming incredible amounts of energy through the atmosphere in selected spots in brief bursts might have some effect on the weather or something?

Ok, so assuming you are right, it's nuclear winter either way. This way we have the cool laser fireworks.

And to run with it. The critisism is always the atmosphere and the distance. The atmosphere will block or deflect the beam and the angular accuracy it takes to hit an ICBM at 30,000 kph at vast distances. And the time it takes for light to make the round trip from seeing it to shooting it, (typically, much less than a meter, perhaps less than a cm.) etc.

So, regardless, zapping it at 50 km is better than nothing. Sure seems reasonable since 10km with the rinky dink existing one seems to work.

Depleted Uranium causing problems? Hard to say. It would help if they had been more honest about this kind of thing in the past.

As I understand it, the only real possible culprit is the dust that comes from a hit.

This radioactive stuff is a lot easier to measure than some of the other issues like agent orange or whatever.

What happens in a scientific study generally depends on who paid for it. Seems enough folks without an ax to grind will look into it. If nothing shows up, most likely nothing is there.

charliezero - 06:20am Jan 6, 2001 EST (#535 of 540)


The Airborne Laser Missile Defense System is exciting and has great promise as a major component of Theater Area Air Defense but would be of little use in a larger scale conflict owing to the 10km range limitation - we would need over 1,000 of the things just to catch cruise missiles coming from offshore, not to mention the hundreds of thousands for the interior to zap ICBM warheads.

That having been said, I am hopeful that more powerful ground based lasers will be capable of targeting and vaporizing a warhead in space within 20 years, and that will be all she wrote for the ICBM and MAD and good riddance. I just want to see the look on the collective Chinese face when they realize how much scarce money they wasted developing their missiles. The Russians probably won't mind much, especially if we share... the French will SCREAM though - he he he!

Then once the missiles have all been dismantled we can convert most of the ground based lasers to laser-based launch facilities for cargo aeroshells. We will also have to maintain and extend our superiority in conventional weapons for when the nuclear umbrella folds.

charliezero - 06:26am Jan 6, 2001 EST (#536 of 540)


Re depleted uranium - the depleted uranium is not highly radioactive but does contain a small amount of U235, and when the APDU round blows up a tank that dust gets everywhere and all it takes is a little U235 to ruin your day. I'm sure planners developing the technology in the 70's considered the expected level of casulaties that would result from exposure to the dust to be acceptable in return for a guaranteed kill on the front of a T-72 at a half mile.

But acceptable casualties in 1970 are not nearly as acceptable in 2001.

dirac_10 - 05:08pm Jan 6, 2001 EST (#537 of 540)

charliezero - 06:26am Jan 6, 2001 EST (#536 of 536)

This one first... Yep, you could be exactly right. A real possibility of what is going on.

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