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    Missile Defense

Russian military leaders have expressed concern about US plans for a national missile defense system. Will defense technology be limited by possibilities for a strategic imbalance? Is this just SDI all over again?

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rshowalter - 06:18am Mar 14, 2001 EST (#982 of 984) Delete Message
Robert Showalter

The questions that can be asked about the Osprey program are similar in significant ways to questions that can be asked about very many other military procurement programs.

They can be asked about our nuclear weapons deployments, and stategies, again, and again, and again.

Military people must coerce each other to stand and die. They must, to do their jobs, conceal and mislead anyone they can possibly regard as a potential enemy. And they are trained, for reasons built into the logic of war, to consider almost anyone a potential enemy. For some purposes, military officers in one service regard all members of other services as "the enemy." Both the public and the Congress are often treated as "the enemy."

Under these circumstances, when military people say "trust us" on a matter of public interest, there is reason to ask how they are to be checked, and what the balance of the public interest is.

rshowalter - 06:25am Mar 14, 2001 EST (#983 of 984) Delete Message
Robert Showalter

One doesn't need to question the extraordinary competence, discipline, and courage shown throughout the USMC. Or shown by the other services.

Still, these are human organizations, specialized for a purpose, and not infallible, either operationally or morally. We are all of us "a little lower than the angels" and military people are no exception.

Before one accepts that military people ought not be questioned about matters of honor, one ought to look at the record.

Two references that are important, I believe, are

DERELICTION OF DUTY: Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the lies that led to Vietnam by H.R. McMaster


DARK SUN: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb by Richard Rhodes.

rshowalter - 06:31am Mar 14, 2001 EST (#984 of 984) Delete Message
Robert Showalter

People involved with the Osprey project must have known, for many years now, that the Osprey might, and probably does, have a problem with a fluid mechanical instability.

That instability might not have been predictable when the design was first proposed. Even so, the instability may be a fatal, unfixable flaw in the design. By now I'd say probably is.

With the military usages and contractor incentives in place, what real human being, in a real circumstance, can actually check, and take right action, about this?

Steve Kline and others at the Stanford University department of Mechanical Engineering, probably the best academic fluid mechanical shop in the world, have discussed the matter of vortex instability of the Osprey rotors off and on for years. And they have been in very close touch with engineers at Boeing who understood the issue very well, and didn't have to be told about it, based on what they knew.

If somebody could get me an authoritative military officer, trained in fluid mechanics, or a senior engineer at Boeing, we could discuss this. A discussion, on videotape, available on the internet, would, I believe, make the technical situation, and the technical risks, very clear.

  • *****

    The issue is important because Osprey is important --- but to me, the issue is more important because of what it shows about the technical fallibility of our nuclear arrangements.

    And the risks that are being imposed on the entire world, more-or-less knowingly, or by negligence.

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