North Korea

Our Fruitless Quest for Missile Defense

We've spent 30 years and $200 billion, and what have we got to show for it?

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Foreign policy is often a form of theater, with elaborate rituals and pretenses that no one takes too literally. But rarely have the gimmicks of stagecraft been as obvious as in the latest standoff between North Korea and the United States.

Lately, even more than usual, the Pyongyang regime has been a picture of belligerence, threatening to hit the U.S. with a nuclear strike. A foreign ministry spokesman announced that "we will be exercising our right to preemptive nuclear attack against the headquarters of the aggressor in order to protect our supreme interest."

Sure you will. Joseph Cirincione, a nuclear arms expert at the Ploughshares Fund, told CNN that North Korea is "years away from the ability to field a missile with a nuclear warhead that could hit the United States." But it's useful for the North Koreans to pretend they could obliterate Los Angeles or make Detroit even less livable.

Apparently President Obama is willing to play along, countering fiction with fiction. "I can tell you that the United States is fully capable of defending against any North Korean ballistic missile attack," said White House spokesman Jay Carney, citing the missile defense system arrayed on the Pacific Coast.

But in case anyone had doubts, the Pentagon announced last week it would spend $1 billion to add more interceptors. Never mind that the ones it has are of doubtful utility. In controlled tests against sitting ducks, these weapons miss their targets as often as they hit them.

It's tempting to think that we must have mastered missile defense, if only because we've been working on it for so long. This episode comes shortly before the 30th anniversary of Ronald Reagan's "Star Wars" speech, in which he envisioned making "nuclear weapons impotent and obsolete."

It's also tempting because the idea is so darn agreeable. Who wouldn't want the U.S. military to be able to knock down incoming warheads like King Kong swatting away biplanes? Who wouldn't want to make sure no deranged dictator can vaporize Times Square?

Keep wishing. Over the past three decades, the Defense Department has burned through some $200 billion chasing this dream—more, adjusted for inflation, than NASA needed to put all those men on the moon. While it took less than a decade for astronauts to plant the American flag in the lunar dust, we are still waiting for that missile shield.

The military-industrial complex was supposed to convert enemy missiles into giant, shiny museum pieces. Yet the rulers in Tehran and Pyongyang persist in thinking that nuclear warheads and delivery vehicles are worth their weight in gold.

The U.S. missile defense program has been an exercise in frustration. The undertaking is so difficult that the Pentagon no longer even dreams of being able to foil a massive attack by Russia or China. Its biggest ambition is to knock down a rocket or two from some rogue nation that is willing to risk being turned into a radioactive pile of gravel.

Even there, the technical requirements are several bridges too far. Last year, a report by the National Academy of Sciences noted the essential requirements of such a system and concluded the existing one is "deficient with respect to all of these principles."

To have any realistic hope of shooting down an intercontinental ballistic missile, you have to be able to track it while it's above the atmosphere ("midcourse"). But the enemy probably won't cooperate.

The CIA has said North Korea and Iran should be able to develop countermeasures by the time they have usable ICBMs. The simplest is to simultaneously release dozens of other objects that, in the vacuum of space, would travel at the same speed as the warhead and be extremely difficult to distinguish.

That was the unsolved problem in 1983, and it's the unsolved problem today. David Wright, co-director of the Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, told me, "None of the tests conducted so far of any of the exoatmospheric missile defenses have been realistic tests against realistic countermeasures like you might expect from North Korea." We haven't found an answer, and we may never.

So if and when North Korea or Iran obtains the means to hit us with an ICBM, we will have to prevent it the old-fashioned way: by assuring them they will be destroyed, immediately and utterly. It's not the most satisfying option. Unlike national missile defense, though, it's actually worked.

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  1. Release millions of balloons upwind of North Korea with one kilo bags of rice attached. Inside every fifth one, put a cell phone.

  2. I have to say that I’ve never understood the opposition to missile defense. It’s not easy or perfectible, but why not do it at some level? Without any defense, the missiles are going to blow your shit up.

    1. Some people seem to be viscerally opposed to missile defense for no good reason other than insisting it’s physical impossible (despite the fact that it’s plainly not). I think it’s because Reagan and Bush wanted it, it must be stupid.

      1. Liberals judge ideas based upon the source, not the content. If Reagan suggested it, then it must be wrong. Regardless of what it actually is.

        1. I think that is some of it.

          There is also some liberal guilt mixed in. They think it unfair that we should be able to protect ourselves from missiles while poor countries can’t.

          Maybe it is also part of their instinctive opposition to self-defense, even on a national scale.

          1. I’ve believed defense against nuclear attack should be one the governments few important roles. Nukes scare me, something about their ability to kill millions and how few are in the decision chain once a nation has nukes. I want government to do very little, but defense of my life and liberty is among them. I gag at massive government spending, but can’t muster the same gag reflex for nuclear missile defense. I get no choice and am coerced into paying my share (more), but if I had a choice I’d free associate with a group of people chipping in for nuclear missile defense research.

      2. exactly this is why I quit my subscription to Sientific American they are so viciously against the missile defense system and they claim it will never work. That is a very unscientific attitude the same thing they blame republicans of being.

        1. Sad seeing as how missile defenses have been demonstrated. I mean, the US military has actually physically shot down missiles before. The issue is the success rate and cost. If if only works 30% of the time you need to have many, many redundant systems and they get expensive quick. Anyone who says missile defenses can’t work is an idiot. Anyone who says missile defenses will never be worth the expense might be on to something.

          1. No they mightn’t.
            What were the general estimates of a few buildings in NYC – 3 trillion costs, then 10 trillion over some years.

            Now imagine a nuked NYC.

            Is the math that difficult?

        2. I also dumped Scientific American for similiar reasons. They are not unbiased.

      3. Funny how those adamantly opposed to government spending on infrastructure are all too eager to give blank checks to defense contractors, when it’s really just another jobs program. That works the other way around, too; you can argue about what we have to show for missile defense compared to roads and bridges, but you can’t say one is a stimulus or sorts but the other is not.

        1. Well, there is the slightly related topic of what is within the scope of the federal government. Missile defense to prevent an aggressor from blowing up a bunch of Americans and their property would seem to qualify. Building the Senator Matthew P. Jackoff Memorial Bridge in Bumblefuck Iowa, with construction and prominent display of the 40 foot “Paid for by the Barack Obama Infrastructure Stimulus” sign composing 5% of the budget? If you can’t see why those are different things, I hope your job doesn’t involve heavy machinery.

        2. It’s funny, why? Because a person can’t oppose one government function and support another? To argue the utility of the project is essential to controlling government, fine, but that’s done applying principle individually. It’s akin to Ann Coulter’s bullshit that we can’t walk and whistle. It is a false choice to say if I disagree with one government function and utility that I cannot agree with a different government function and utility.

          If I believe government’s primary roles are to defend my life and liberty, then I can say no to State Schools and yes to missile defense without an ethical contradiction. If I don’t believe government has ANY role, then it is a contradiction.

        3. SciAm is anti Missile defense, believes in AGW & has Shermer.

          3 Strikes.

        4. Blank Checks to defense contractors? Cost overruns. They happen. Have they o happened on missile defense. Or is more that research & development is not a linear onward & upward process.

          Someone has not read the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR).

          Is the federal acquisition process perfect? No. But neither is Congress, marriage or anything else.

          Never mind! I went to your website and I am talking over head. I would have better luck talking to a wall.

    2. I don’t think that most people are against missile defense, its paying for missile defense and getting something that can barely shoot down a target in a non realistic test.

      1. You have to start somewhere. Isn’t some defense better than none? And what weapons system is perfect and fool proof when it is first built? Maybe if we built one we would be able to perfect it?

        1. We started thirty years ago.

          And were getting things like Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense, a ship board system which can barely hit something if its in the exact in the right spot at the right time and useless for 99% of scenarios. If it actually had some chance of working then I might support it for US defense but right now they build things which they know don’t work just to build it.

          1. You build it so you can improve it. And when you are talking about a nuclear missile, even a 1% chance (which I think the odds of our hitting it are a lot better than that) is worth having.

            1. “We can rebuild him. Make him better than he was….”

              Did we learn NOTHING from “The Six Million Dollar Man”??!!

              1. We learned about inflation.

            2. Yes but they are not just testing they are deploying operational systems that don’t work.

              It’s like saying we want to develop a parachute, but our test examples are only the size of a table cloth and if someone uses it they will die, but they decide to outfit an entire airborne division with the parachute.

              First you develop something that works and then you deploy it operationally, not deploy it first and hope later versions will work..

              1. Here is the Raytheon drawing which shows the Standard Missile 3 which is used by Aegis ships for ballistic missile defense. Notice that the first missile, the one we are deploying now is not capable of shooting down much of anything. And its not until phase 3 that you get a all around capable missile and this while it has the same name is nothing like the original missile.

                http://www.raytheon.com/capabi…..wnload.jpg

                1. Point about the SM-3 – it’s a v2.0 of the SM-2, which is what AEGIS cruisers were originally equipped with. The SM-2 was designed to shoot down airplanes and cruise missiles (which it does a pretty damned good job of, actually).

                  It was not originally designed to shoot down ballistic objects, BUT, its flight profile does go somewhat exo-atmospheric, before coming down from above at about Mach 5 or 6 for terminal intercept.

                  The SM-3 is a re-purpose of something already available, with the benefit of not having to overhaul the plumbing of every AEGIS cruiser in the inventory to be able to use it.

              2. Where are you getting all this information? Do you have a citation about the ineffectiveness of these ABM systems?

                1. The picture I just posted comes directly from the maker of Standard 3 missiles and indicates even the maker does not consider the ones being deployed now are very effective.

                  1. It does? Where are you reading that?

                    1. Notice the http://WWW.Raytheon in the address of the picture I posted?.

                  2. It says they’re effective against short range ballistic missiles, which about the only thing the NK or Iran have available at the moment.

                    It’s not uncommon for systems to be fielded with the capability that is available in the here and now and modified/ upgraded over time. It sounds like you’re saying that if we can’t shoot down ICBMs now then we shouldn’t even bother trying, or that we should just keep developing the system without fielding the capabilities that are available now. That would be an even bigger waste of money.

                    Plus you learn as much if not more from having an operational system in the field, even if it’s not the whole enchilada from a capabilities point of view, than by keeping a project strictly development for a couple of decades.

                    1. The Wright Brothers did not listen, they built it.

                      The bicycle makers were crazy fools, unaware of real scientific physics.

                      Thus history repeats itself, with all the smartest guys in the room.

          2. DJF

            Do you just throw stuff up to see if it will stick? I am thinking it is pointless to argue with you, because it seems more like wrestling with the proverbial pig in the mud

            Wiki this “Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System”

            There was a successful test on Feb 13, 2013.

            The success rate is 80%. If you layered defenses with boost phase, midcourse & terminal phases. You will save millions of lives.

            Good god why argue with you? Better to let you talk & make a note. I do not want to be shackled with a “I know better than you” less than half a glass full type of mentality.

            It is time for a legal, political divorce.

          3. DJF

            DJF you remind me of “Reporter Richard Thornburg” of Die Hard 2.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A…..le_Defense

            With Boost Phase Missile Defense & Terminal Phase missile Defense you can get rid of a lot of decoys.

            I can only imagine you vote way to the left & say “Give up all hope we are doomed.”

            Ping

            1. I think it’s worse than that. He supports Barky and Peanutty unilateral disarmament, to show what good little peeps they are.

      2. Is shooting down and ICBM supposed to be more difficult than shooting down a SCUD?

        1. Yes, a ICBM goes faster and higher

          1. So ICBM’s are the blacks of the missile world.

            /lacist

          2. Plus the SCUDs that Iraq was firing off during the first gulf war were pretty unimpressive. They were shit for accuracy and more importantly they didn’t have countermeasures (AFAIK). Plus a lot of them actually broke up and exploded before the Patriot missiles were using to intercept them actually “hit” them. IOW, the success rate of the Patriot in the first gulf war is vastly overstated.

            Not that any of this should be taken as an argument against missile defense in general.

            1. The problem with the Patriot engagements during the first Gulf War wasn’t that they missed the big chunks of metal falling from the sky. They mostly actually did. The problem was that even if they hit them, there was still. . .a huge chunk of metal falling from the sky, just possibly now in many pieces.

              Personally saw a Land Rover belonging to the Brits that was pinned to the asphalt when the SCUD’s battery (larger than those used in semi trucks) came down and went through the roof, driver’s seat, and collapsed the suspension. Parked right outside the Royal Saudi Air Force’s headquarters building in Riyahd.

              1. When it comes to a nuclear armed ballistic missile chinks of metal killing someone on the ground is very sad, but still better than a nuclear detonation.

              2. That’s just terrible, I wish it would have hit so the RSAF could have built a new HQ and stimulated the economy… and thus the PM was a futile exercise in failure.

        2. Actually, a SCUD is a ballistic missile as well. Any ballistic missile is going to be difficult to shoot down because of the tremendous speed they attain re-entering the atmosphere and the fact they you have to track it somehow (the only way to do it now is radar). They can deceive your radar by releasing crap before the missile re-enters which confuses the radar since instead of one missile to track, you now have hundreds of things to track with only one being the real missile. An ICBM is EASIER to track than a SCUD because it is in the air far longer and is far, far larger.

          The easy things to track are non-ballistic missiles (anything that doesn’t leave our atmosphere) and cruise missiles – things that the Iron Dome shoots down.

        3. The true meaning of the word SCUD

      3. No, I understand the resistance to throwing hundreds of billions at the problem, but the objections are not just about the money. This article and the ones I’ve read opposing the concept for the last thirty years always suggest that it’s practically impossible. That, of course, is untrue.

        1. I can’t say that I’ve ever worked in this area of research, but I do have a degree in physics and a career in engineering. I’ve never been able to understand how anyone could build a functioning missle defense system for ICBM weapons.

          Far more cost effective would be to just start assassinating leaders of countries that might launch an attack against us.

          1. The other approach is to build a defense that can hit the ICBM before it becomes ballistic, in other words at launch. The problem here, of course, is that you have to know where the launchers are and you have to be able to quickly respond to a launch.

            Trying to hit them on the way down is like trying to hit a bullet with a bullet, or a bullet with a laser (depending on the technology).

            1. So yes, you could install an anti-missle system in south korea that could target ICBMs shortly after launch from north korea. At this point you have a “large” target moving slowly.

              For 10,000 launch sites deep in Siberia, you would be fucked.

              1. There’s always a space-based approach, although that would be crazy expensive with launch costs being what they are today.

                1. Yup. You can shoot on the way up (but you got to be close by); or you can shoot them at apogge (but you got to be up there); or you can shoot them on the way down.

                  The incoming missle may be the size of a school bus, but relatively speaking it is a really small target moving really, really fast. And you shoot with an even smaller missle going even faster. The probability of success is not very high. So you need massively redundant efforts to hit the incoming missile.

                  Burning money in the money hole.

                2. Space based is pretty much out the window, given international treaties on weaponizing space. That part of the nice ‘Star Wars’ graphics from the 80’s was DOA before the artists ink dried.

                  1. Apparently you haven’t watched Iron Sky.

                    1. It will probably take the Germans to do it, but it will be our tax dollars, and since they are so good at censorship over there, no one will be the ten thousandth internet genius who claims it can’t be done.

    3. Really…this is something worth pursuing, even if it is only useful against a rogue nation, IMO.

    4. No kidding. And it is worse than that. Suppose the NORKS go bizerk and launch a nuclear missile some day. Isn’t shooting it down and deescalation of the situation a lot better than letting it take out a city and being forced to level North Korea in response?

      It is articles like this that give credence to the Reason staff are just liberals taking a paycheck argument. You would think a completely defensive weapons system like this would be the one kind of defense even Reason would support. But alas, people like Chapman seem to be against any effort to defend ourselves.

      1. Isn’t shooting it down and deescalation of the situation a lot better than letting it take out a city and being forced to level North Korea in response?

        John, I don’t agree with you very often when you’re discussing NK (and I still object to your use of the word “forced”), but you’re absolutely correct that anti-missile defense as a means of deescalation is valuable.

        1. We wouldn’t be forced. But if we let a country destroy a US city without facing massive retaliation, we would no longer have any credible nuclear deterrence. Our choices at that point would be, nuclear retaliation or living in a world where every nuclear nation knows they can take a free shot at the US with no risk of us responding in kind. And that is not a choice.

          1. Look at what we did to Afghanistan after they killed just 3000 people. Imagine what we would do if they killed hundreds of thousands. Iraq just looked at us the wrong way and we killed 100,000 of them.

            1. John’s scenario assumes we shot the missile down. So, nobody would be dead.

              1. How many Americans did the Iraqi’s kill before we destroyed them?

              2. And I was responding to the “forced” comment anyway. If they nuked one of our cities we would be forced to retaliate – I am using 9/11 as an example of that.

                1. Sure, we would be forced to retaliate, possibly with nuclear weapons, but that would not be the only option. Keep in mind that China and South Korea would be impacted by a nuclear strike, too.

        2. A retaliatory nuclear strike will ALWAYS kill innocent people, therefore it is ALWAYS wrong. I guess I should be thankful that I live in a world with people who are mostly moral, but still willing to commit mass murder to protect me.

          1. Agreed. If NK somehow hit a US city there would be no need to retaliate in kind. We have the ability to completely eradicate their ability to make war by conventional means.

          2. A nation’s first responsibility (really, the only moral justification for its existence) is to prevent other nations from killing or enslaving its citizens. Nations that fail in this duty very often cease to exist. Their laws and customs are of interest only to historians, and their people are left at the mercy of someone stronger, if they are not just dead.

            Sometimes this defense requires violence, and sometimes it requires the threat of terrible retaliation if attacked. Threats are generally more effective, and they also reduce the amount of actual violence needed for defense. The problem, however, is that threats are worthless if you are unwilling to carry them out.

            Now we are so much more powerful than North Korea that an all out nuclear response would be unnecessary. We would, however, be justified in wiping out their nuclear capability and demanding their unconditional surrender, using nukes for both. The people of North Korea are essentially hostages but if a hostage taker starts firing into the crowd, you take kill or incapacitate him immediately, even if that means killing some of the hostages.

            1. Utilitarianism can be used to justify anything.

              1. H3k, please explain what you see as an appropriate response. NK makes a demand, US refuses, NK has a few nukes and irrationally destroys a US city. NK remains dangerous from a nuclear perspective and a conventional perspective to its neighbors. We have superior conventional military power, but we must deploy. This takes time, meanwhile the rest of our cities pray. Appropriate response?

      2. Chapman isn’t Reason staff.

        1. What’s the difference? They publish his crap regularly. And make no mistake, it’s crap.

          1. So, write a note to the Jacket, and thank him for the opportunity to point and laugh. Be positive about it!

          2. This article & Chapman’s article on Iraq 10 years later were not good. I wonder if my kids is right. Steve is a “Kept Konservative” Therefore we can expect him to keep kreeping left.

            The 1st paragraph of this article on Iraq was much better

            sofrep dot .com /18378 / iraq-a-decade-later-terrorism-stronger-than-eve

      3. Suppose the NORKS go bizerk and launch a nuclear missile some day. Isn’t shooting it down and deescalation of the situation a lot better than letting it take out a city and being forced to level North Korea in response?

        So you wouldn’t level NK in response anyway? Let em shoot another one at you tomorrow?

        No, thermonuclear war isn’t some sort of game. All the players need to know that by going there, EVER, you are guaranteed to lose your entire nation.

        1. If we shot their missile down? I am not sure I would level them at that point. You are talking about killing millions of people.

          1. So it’s okay for them to do it tomorrow too? And another the next day?

            You said yourself it’s not 100% reliable. Some percentage will get through. You gonna let em keep lobbing missiles at you until one does?

            I’m thinking that’s not going to happen.

            1. No need to nuke them in response, though. You can destroy them by conventional means as well. Anything that kills their leaders gets the point across that such acts will not be tolerated.

              1. Just how fast do you think we can gin up a conventional strike?

                How effective were our conventional forces in taking out the leadership in Al Qaeda or in Iraq?

                You gonna let em lob missiles at you during that period of days?

                1. First, there’s no guarantee that our nuclear retaliation would prevent them from launching more nukes. We’d have to know the precise location of all their facilities, but if we already have that information then conventional weapons will work just as well as nuclear weapons. Why put a nuke down each pipe when a bunker buster will work just as well?

                  The Iraq war was actually a perfect example of how conventional war can be successful. It took a while to get to the leaders, but we were able to eliminate their ability to make war very quickly. Once you take out NK’s ability to lob more missiles, you can take your time finding the leaders.

                  And yes, I would be hesitant to execute millions of NK citizens even if their government was lobbing nukes at us daily. This is a hostage situation.

                  1. Let me add one last thing:

                    The threat of nuclear retaliation only works against reasonable, sane people. And no reasonable, sane person would nuke the US right now.

                    1. How do you defend against irrational actors?

                  2. Respectfully disagree.

                    It took YEARS to get OBL. It took months to get Saddam. It takes days to gin up a small conventional strike. And longer for something the size of what your talking about. Even if it was NK, where we have thousands of troops, hundreds of airplanes it would take at least a day or two just to round everyone up and generate the sorties. Not to mention they’ll likely send a few south.

                    Bottom line, you couldn’t touch their nuclear capability conventionally for days. (And that’s NK, longer where we have no presence.) It can be done in a matter of hours (less?) with nukes.

                    If someone is shooting nukes at the US, I don’t give a rat’s ass about the innocent NK citizens. I want, no, I demand, the country be leveled immediately to ensure it stops.

        2. You do not have to level a city. Level the oligarchy, 100 families. After that deposits & tyrannical oligarchies around the world will take note & plead mea culpa.

          Case in point we invaded Iraq & Gaddaffi gave up his nuke program. Iran didn’t because they correctly gaged we did not have the collective willpower to go further. Gaddaffi was smaller, easier to get to & closer. Iran & Gaddaffi knew this.

      4. ” You would think a completely defensive weapons system like this would be the one kind of defense even Reason would support.”

        Especially when our other option is to have our Navy anchored off their coast…

    5. I never understood the need for it. Deterrence works pretty damn well.

      1. It’s not just for nukes, and deterrence is not some proven concept. It worked–and almost failed a couple of times–between two countries who never actually fought directly against one another.

        The only real test is whether a country really wants to nuke another one. So far, the only case I can think of where that’s likely true is in the Middle East.

        1. India and Pakistan.

          However in their case I’m pretty sure it was only US pressure on Pakistan which prevented a Nuclear exchange

          1. I actually was going to use them as an example and decided it’s not entirely clear what they’d do. I doubt they really want to use nukes on one another. If for no other reason than they’d likely irradiate some of their own populations in so doing, not to mention that they know the whole world would freak out.

            1. I doubt they really want to use nukes on one another. If for no other reason than they’d likely irradiate some of their own populations in so doing, not to mention that they know the whole world would freak out.

              I think it’s likely more the latter than concern for their own people. Neither government had shown much care for the fortunes of their people. India slightly more so than Pakistan, but not by much.

              1. I think the government’s give fuck all about their people, they want to preserve the government and their own skins. My fear is when a nuclear armed nations government is staring down extinction and its leaders are frightened desperate men with twitchy fingers. I think the world got a free pass with the Soviet Union, but there is no guaranty how other governments will go into he night.

                I really hate that humanity has entrusted governments with nukes. We are a short sighted species.

                1. I assume you are the alien grey that won’t show forth in the skies for humanity, since we are so bad bad bad bad terrible…

                  Oh wait a minute… 2 nukes were dropped that ended the ensuing likely slaughter of 10 times as many about 68 years ago and so far as we’ve been told not another single one has ever been used in that fashion again although multiple tens of thousands were in the hands of the terrible humans FOR 65+ FREAKING YEARS ….

                  Yes, short sighted indeed.

      2. Sure deterrence works well right up until it doesn’t. And it would be nice if there were options on the table in the event of a nuclear attack beyond massive retaliation.

    6. The FA only briefly mentioned the big problems.

      1. Best time to destroy is in boost phase, but that is short, just a few minutes, and you have to be close to the launch site to do so. Ie, this is never good against Russia or China, and only good against North Korea is ships are positioned within say 50 miles of the coast.

      2. It also assumes you can make pretty quick good decisions on whether to intercept. Launching a lot of dummies which look like real boost phase for the first minute or two before running out of fuel makes you waste precious ammo on junk.

      3. Attacking during mid course is still a long ways away, thousands of miles, and probably 100-200 up at least. That takes an big heavy interceptor compared to boost phase where the engines probably cut out sooner.

      4. Mid course also has to contend with all those decoy warheads, and telling the difference in a vacuum where mass and shape doesn’t affect its flight path is really hard.

    7. People who are opposed to this are trying to effect a certain political outcome, do not understand science & engineering, or have defective cingulate cortexes.

      There were countermeasures against antiaircraft guns in WW2. Did we scrap ground based air defense? There were just so many ways to down a plane including having an air traffic controller talk an enemy pilot into the ground.

      What would the the Battle of the coral Sea, Midway or Okinawa look like without the AA guns? I mean we should get rid of them AA guns because they did not work. Kamikazes & bombs got thru. In Europe during WW2 bombers deployed chaff to fool radar.

      I would rather not have any cities nuked. Barring that I would rather have 1 or 3 cities nuked than 10. What Steve Chapman is arguing for no defenses. Does Steve Chapman know what a Failure Mode & Effects Analysis (FMEA) is?

      A layered defense while it would may not be fool proof would stop effective blackmail and complicate calculations of how effective their strikes would be giving their generals pause.

    8. I talked to my kid about this article.

      It is all very sad really, but he talking circles around me.

      His take was the Anti-ballistic Missile tech arguments are just a way to force diplomacy.

      He admitted that there might be derangement syndrome at play as well.

      I’m good with diplomacy. What I am it good with is trying it ad infinitum. I mean it did not work. We sent Madeliene Allbright with a autographed basketball.

      Maybe our Sexitary of States need to be younger like 12 or 16 years old. It has worked in the past.

      Korea use to send what a 100 virgins a year at at treaty renewal so as to not get attacked by China.

      Maybe that is what we need to do.

  3. “David Wright, co-director of the Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, told me, ‘None of the tests conducted so far of any of the exoatmospheric missile defenses have been realistic tests against realistic countermeasures like you might expect from North Korea.’ We haven’t found an answer, and we may never.”

    So, we need the Nork’s to launch a missile so we can test?

    1. “Union of Concerned Scientists”

      Why do I get the feeling a member of this outfit would NEVER acknowledge that missile defense is possible?

      1. UCS has always had the position that all nuclear weapons testing & deployment should be ended. Whatever you think of that position, it will almost inevitably lead them into opposing a missile defense since such a system is a de facto acceptance of a permanent nuclear-armed world.

        1. I think it is a stupid idea, personally. The world will never give up nuclear weapons so I would never advocate that an individual country give up their last resort form of defence. Their enemies certainly will not.

          1. Gun grabbers only grow bigger.
            The felony rogue nations are not allowed to bear arms, their “rights” have been forfeit.

            I’m dialing 1-800-Feinstein this very moment and asking if the big guns of the
            USA need to be confiscated since they might be a bit more dangerous than a semi auto.

      2. When you see the word “Concerned” in any organization’s name, you can pretty safely dismiss anything they have to say out of hand. While technically a fallacy, the erroneousness of this approach is purely theoretical – in practice, it is 100% effective.

      3. Concerned is synonymous with handwringing until your hands bleed.

        Pairing yourself up with a member of the Union of concerned Scientists is like being chained to a corpse

        (This was someone’s observation of what is was like for Germany as Austria Hungary in WW1).

        If you took David Wright back thru time he would say “The Vikings we can never beat them”. Ditto the Huns, Avars, et al.

  4. Over the past three decades, the Defense Department has burned through some $200 billion chasing this dream?more, adjusted for inflation, than NASA needed to put all those men on the moon

    Maybe so, but putting men on the moon has no inherent value. Protecting innocents from nuclear weapons does, sort of.

  5. “realistic countermeasures like you might expect from North Korea”

    Umm.. missiles blowing up on the launchpad before you can shoot them down?

    A giant sign that says “This is not a missire”?

    1. *Rike*

    2. “realistic countermeasures” from anybody is the product of professional paranoids already aware of the complexity of basically shooting a bullet with another bullet.

      Hell, it’s enough of a technical exercise to get an ICBM to do the basic job of lobbing a payload far and accurately enough in the first place, forget loading it up with lights, bells and whistles which are as likely to cause it to fail as ‘protect’ it.

  6. This article reminds me, again, that my favorite articles by Steve Chapman are, “Steve Chapman is on vacation this week.”

    Yeah – I don’t like waste or a lack of results. But I think pursuing missile defense is worthwhile – Israel semed to have some success. What can we learn from them?

    Maybe we should just shoot a shitload of aluminum foil bits into space to fuck up every goddamned satellite and tracking mechanism. I don’t know if that would help protect against missiles, but it sure would create a lot of unnecessary chaos.

    OK, maybe we shouldn’t do that…

    1. North Korea would be able to do more damage to the rest of the world with your aluminum bits strategy than with a nuclear ICBM. Don’t give them any ideas…

      1. I love how security of the not so free world turns on pajama blogging internet brain stormers.

        I guess Homeland Security has to come and take him now. Aiding and abetting and all that. I’m not sure where we get all these geniuses.

  7. Chapman makes two idiotic assumptions in his article.

    1. He assumes the “rulers in Tehran and Pyongyang” have accurate information on our missile defense capabilities and are rational actors.

    2. “The CIA has said North Korea and Iran should be able to develop countermeasures by the time they have usable ICBMs.” So they have to not only develop working ICBM’s but ones equipped with countermeasures? That wouldn’t take them longer and cost even more money and resources they don’t have? We couldn’t develop solutions to those countermeasures far faster than them?

    1. And one other question for Chapman. If these systems are so worthless, why did the Russians go insane over the prospect of such a system being built in Eastern Europe? If the systems are such a waste of money, wouldn’t the Russians have wanted us to waste our money on a worthless system?

      I am thinking the Russians know more about how effective these systems actually are than Chapman knows and that they were concerned about it being deployed in Eastern Europe for a reason.

      1. Yes – And all those feared “counter-measures” are purely theoretical right now. Otherwise, you are right, the Russians wouldn’t care in the least.

      2. Yeah, that was always the great contradiction about the (US) domestic opposition to SDI: it was a completely unrealistic concept that would never work AND its presence would destabilize the world.

        As I point out to my students, whether it was feasible or not in the 1980s, the Soviets BELIEVED it was feasible and that colored their approach. Thus, Gorbachev in Reykjavik offered to give up INF weapons IF Reagan junked SDI.

      3. Basically once a BALLISTIC missile starts to re-enter the atmosphere, its trajectory is 100% set – there is no guiding it (that is the point of a ballistic missile) Easy to track, just moving extremely fast. The thing about countermeasures is that to confuse our radar they would have to be the exact same size as the re-entry vehicle and moving at the exact same speed on a sensible trajectory – not a trivial task like the article makes it seem. It would mean they would need a missile capable of launching more re-entry vehicles (decoys) than our system can handle and defend against. As we all know from the space program, the more you send up, the bigger the rocket, the less reliable it is, and the more it costs. If they were different sizes or moving at nonsensical trajectories it would be simple to ignore the decoys and track the missile.

        1. Ever heard of a MIRV? You could have one live warhead and a half a dozen decoys all behaving exactly the same. Now I must build at least six times the number of defensive missiles as the other guy has nukes.

          And the escalation continues.

          1. MIRVs are not trivial to build. Upping the cost and difficulty of a ballistic missile program is not a bad thing.

          2. Yeah, our biggest MIRV Missile has 12 (Russia’s is 10) warheads. We can easily track 12 independent objects entering the atmosphere. To confuse radar you are going to need FAR more decoy objects to overwhelm our radar.

            Now, of course they can overwhelm our defense by shooting a shit-ton of missiles, but that takes a lot of time to build them and coordinating a strike like that (since they don’t have Sub Launched ICBMs or a feasible stealth bomber) would make it immediately obvious what they were planning to do triggering a pre-emptive strike.

            1. What makes our MIRVs effective is it isn’t just 12 warheads coming down on your ass, but the fact that the rest of the cone is LOADED with chaff, radar jamming equipment, and a load of other classified countermeasures (putting hundreds, if not thousands of targets on enemy radar). The Chaff and other stuff burns up on re-entry leaving the target far less time to track the real missiles. The Russians had the exact same technology and they seemed to have more faith in our counter-icbm system than the article does.

              1. True. Probably why they ringed Moscow with their version, without making a lot of fanfare over the deal.

      4. I suspect, the thing they feared, was not the systems themselves, but the need for them to gin up and waste billions of rubles on their own worthless programs.

        1. SO because we build a worthless system they must build one too rather than ignore it and save the money?

          That makes no sense. That is not even a good try.

          1. No. At some point in the distant future it will most likely work. Pour enough money and effort into anything and you’ll get there eventually.

            If you adversary goes there, YOU MUST go there, because you cannot risk that they render your entire defense system obsolete.

            From a cost/benefit standpoint, you are going to spend vast amounts of money to defend against an extremely unlikely scenario.

            In the unlikely event of a nuclear exchange, you might save a few cities…maybe not. Cost-benefit takes the likelihood of such an exchange into consideration rather than simply saying we must defend against everything.

            So they ask themselves if it’s worth the money and they come to the reasonable conclusion that it isn’t.

    2. Re: Drake,

      1. He assumes the “rulers in Tehran and Pyongyang” have accurate information on our missile defense capabilities

      Fair point. Maybe they’re just assuming a defense based on what’s on the blogosphere, periodicals, books, journals, the Internet, their own spies… poor ignorant bastards.

      and are rational actors.

      Does it make sense to assume that they’re IRrational actors? You know, like my pet iguana is an irrational actor? Or my goldfish?

      It is one thing to think that what those people are doing is despicable, but that does not mean that they’re irrational actors.

      [Couldn’t we] develop solutions to those countermeasures far faster than them?

      Sure – YOU pay for it.

      1. Before kimmy gong lit off the nuke while clearing the mountain for a Rice water project and cloud cover obscured the view of Powell’s regular industrial accident just happened public lie, the entire reich wing was shrieking if kimmy gong gets a nuke HE WILLLLL USE IT AS SOON AS HE GETS IT!!!!!

        The screaming was nearly intolerable, and of course was accompanied by “HE’S CRAZYYYY !!”

        Then the nuke appeared, Condi and Powell lied and only idiots believed them and there were many of those…

        6 months later or something kimmy gong blew off another one – at some point it had to be admitted…

        Then the “crazy nuker as soon as he gets one !!!! ” screaming shriekers turned to Khomeni in Iran and began foaming all over the place.

        No one seems to have lived through this, noticed it, can recall it, or is aware of it, but me. I’m not sure anyone else is even competent.

  8. If they hit as many as they miss then that works out to a 50% hit rate. Now if you use the same argument that this is not a worthy number then you would have to say bullets for the army is a waste of time because their on target rate is far less.

    Hitting some is better then hitting nothing and far better then doing nothing.

    1. And you can take multiple shots at each missile too. If you know your success rate is 50% you can compensate by making 10 attempts. Now your success rate is much higher, but with a much higher cost. Doesn’t work when you’re trying to shoot down 1000 missiles, but works great when you’re trying to hit 1.

    2. exactly right; if you had a perfect missile defense system, you’d only need as many interceptors as the enemy has missiles. if the system is imperfect, you need a multiple of the number of missiles they have, and that will still not be guaranteed to get you to 100% hit rate.

      if the enemy has thousands of missiles – e.g. the USSR – you can at least reduce the total number, though if they’re nuclear bombs it won’t matter much because everyone will still die.

      but if the enemy has just a few nuclear missiles – i.e. if they are North Korea – increasing the number of interceptors will realistically move you towards eliminating all of those missiles before they strike.

      tldr; missile defense programs actually make sense against weak enemies.

    3. Well, if you really dig into the ‘hit rate’ numbers, you’ll find that a few of the test shots deemed a ‘failure’ (not all, which were ‘misses’) are heralded as ‘failures’ because certain test objectives weren’t satisfied to the engineers’ satisfaction in one respect or another.

      Not that any ‘concerned scientists’ pushing a political agenda would actually tell you that. Got a better chance of getting exculpatory evidence from a crooked DA.

      1. crooked DA.

        Isn’t that redundant?

  9. The other thing to consider is that missile defense against the 15,000 or so Soviet warheads, short of a laser armed space station, would have been incredibly difficult.

    Building a system that can stop the 10 or so missiles the Norks might be able to one day lob at the West Coast is actually quite feasible. I mean, we can probably scrap three of our eleven or so aircraft carriers and pay for it that way.

    Certainly weapons which defend our cities instead of holding the cities of other nations hostage are morally superior.

    1. If the innocent Russian people don’t want to be targeted then they should elect different leaders!

      /neocon

      1. Actually, that’s more jacksonian. I tend to agree with it at least a bit – power comes from the people, power structres are horizontal not just vertical. The Kim family rules in NK not because they are deadly martial artists with jedi powers, but because many people follow and obey them. If you empower nutjobs to be your leaders and they attack your neighbors, I would say the civillians are complicit and not blaimless, and should not be spared at the expense of soldiers having ‘made you come over there’.

        The real neocon argument would probably be that the people are of course helpless innocent victims yearning for ipads so we have an obligation to invade and occupy, eliminating their oppressors and liberating democracy. It’d be the opposite of holding them responsible for their government, denying them any agency or responsibility for their government.

        That’s actually one of the biggest reasons I got cured of my neoconism, it’s very Pelagian, assuming the rogue regimes at the top are the whole problem and ignoring the social systems where they came from (and in the process, implicitly denying the idea that people have power over their governments).

        1. Specifically this is the thinking behind marching into Iraq and thinking we could disband the whole sunni power structure and kill the baathists and the whole country would just become a liberal democracy and name streets after us.

          We went into Iraq like we were liberating France from Germany.

        2. ^This is an important point.^

          As I rehash my own internal debate on retaliation toward bad actors, I turn to my own responsibility. If I allow my government too much power and that government behaves badly, I understand that may cost me my life.

    2. And it helps that NK doesn’t have Sub-Launched missiles or a stealth-bomber. Launching an ICBM half way around the world gives us much more time than a sub sitting 100 feet below the surface 50 miles off the shore of NYC.

    3. Certainly weapons which defend our cities instead of holding the cities of other nations hostage are morally superior.

      How so? You are going to need obliterate them anyway.

      You can NOT spend the money on missile defense and obliterate them.

      OR

      You can spend the money on missile defense and obliterate them.

      Why? Because unless the defense is 100% effective you are not going to stand by and let a country lob nukes at you for a period of days.

      1. Having a credible missile defense lowers the desire of hostile nations to build the missiles in the first place.

        NK does not really believe that they can withstand or “win” a nuclear exchange with the US, they believe that having a credible nuclear threat gives them more leverage, makes the cost of fucking with them higher.

        Having a working ABM system diminishes the value of the ballistic missile as a threat, and therefore the value of building one in the first place.

        1. So we are going to spend billions defending against NK leverage?

          makes the cost of fucking with them higher.

          Isn’t the whole point we shouldn’t be fucking with ANYONE to begin with?

          1. It isnt just NK leverage, its anyone who might think that nukes buy they leverage/immunity against the United states.

            The idea here is to discourage the proliferation of nukes and missiles to deliver them. You can make the case that we *shouldnt* be fucking with other countries, but given our history of doing just that, you would have a tough time of convincing a North Korea that we wouldnt.

            1. When I’m elected king, we’ll have open trade with them within a week. Same with every other piss ass adversary.

              Ya don’t keep the peace by poking people with guns. Ya keep peace by making everyone interdependent on the other.

              1. er

                Ya don’t keep the peace by poking people with guns. Ya keep peace by making everyone interdependent on the other.

  10. So read all the comments in this thread. Measures, counter-measures, counter-counter-measures, probability of success, ROI, unbelievable costs…

    Isn’t it easier and significantly less expensive to simply say:

    If you launch a nuke against the US we will obliterate you.

    1. Yes, but that only works if you have a rational enemy.

      1. And how do you defend against an irrational enemy?

        Regardless, there are other ways of delivering a nuke to a US city that have nothing to do with missiles.

        1. You defend against an irrational enemy by minimizing your losses upon his initial offfensive. It is essential to maintain couter strike capability, which since there was little we could do to minimize losses during the cold war, it was the essential component of our ‘defense’.

        2. The enemy is not irrational. At least North Korea is not.

          I have played the irrational card on a smaller scale. It cows people. They were scared of me. Funny that I was the physically weakest one of the bunch. One day when we were wrestling they found out I was weak. No more Mr.Bad guy routine.

          The North Korean is run by an oligarchy of about 100 families. What are you prepared to do to protect your family?

          1. Think gangsta’ eubonics and this crowd:

            ” Yaooo aints gonna mess wit me, you’d haveta be crazy, mutha ***** ! ”

            There is the mentality. So far they have been absolutely incorrect, but they keep saying it, over and over and over, they must already absolutely believe it, since the msm pols and talking heads poured the koolaid into their sponge brains then welded the emtpy borg gourd shut with bondo.

    2. We already do, and yet the North Korea’s and Iran’s of the world are pursuing nuke and ballistic missile plans none the less.

      1. They can float one in on any of millions of unchecked cargo containers.

        kimmy gong had how many years to do so ? 5 ? 10?

        Now that SOB DIED before the smartest know it alls in the room could prove they gots it wight.

        They gots it wight again now. Fatso will likely die too.

    3. No.

      In the case of the Rogue state (North Korea, potentially Iran at some future point, but their leaders aren’t this crazy even if they had nukes today) the risk is that they come to believe that their obliteration, likely from an internal revolt is inevitable anyway and so if they are going down they are gonna take their big enemy down with them.

      Further you have been assuming that our counterstrike would be either Nukes or boots on the ground. Sure, against a large well defended country like Russia or China this would be the case, against NK, they launch the first nuke, we shoot it down, and then we start blowing the shit out of every military base large enough to hold an ICBM launcher with airstrikes and cruise missiles.

      No if a rogue nation ever did launch on us they would blow their entire wad in one big shot hoping to cause as much damage as possible, If it was a country like Russia or China we’d be looking at the massive first strike designed to knock out all of our counterstrike capabilities and command and control systems.

      1. No if a rogue nation ever did launch on us they would blow their entire wad in one big shot

        No, you cannot assume that.

        And at the risk of being redundant:

        NO PRESIDENT is going to allow a rouge nation to lob nukes at the US over a period of several days.

        The response (9 times out of 10) will be immediate and nuclear. As you will not risk follow-up attempts.

    4. The easiest thing to say is:

      If you launch a nuke against the US, we will shoot it down AND obliterate you.

      1. Yep, if you are willing to spend that kind of money to defend against an extremely unlikely scenario.

        cost/benefit

        1. I would accept a cost/benefit analysis – far better than the liberal nonsense in this article.

          1. Agree. I had to go look up the status of the program to see if what he was spouting was true. Looks like half the tests have failed including the last two in 2010. The last successful test was in 08.

            link

            1. I have to say, reading their summary of the current ABM technology, id say it sounds pretty good.

              Id say the fact that we can hit some missiles with missiles disproves the whole ‘hitting a bullet with a bullet’ argument. We are hitting a bullet with a bullet, its just a matter advancing the tech to the point where it can hit all *kinds* of bullets. Not nearly the hopeless case Chapman and others have made it out to be.

              1. The funny thing is, if one of these jokers whining had a choice to weild a gun with 2 bullets and were told they have a 50% chance to hit the incoming grenade before it blew them to pieces you never hear a faster double trigger pull the rest of your life.

                Jessica Lynch might start crying and duck and cover though, so there is that.

  11. Joseph Cirincione, a nuclear arms expert at the Ploughshares Fund, told CNN that North Korea is “years away from the ability to field a missile with a nuclear warhead that could hit the United States.”

    So, should we be making any preparations before those years have elapsed?

    Just curious.

    1. Ploughshares Fund.

      Hehe.

      Those who beat their swords into ploughshares will plow for those who kept their swords.

  12. Steve-o you really are out of your league here.

    The question is not whether a missile defense system is possible, the question is what are it’s actual goals and are they possible.

    You seem to be under the VERY mistaken illusion that the goal of missile defense is to prevent any possibility of any missile from ever striking anywhere within the Continental US. This is clearly beyond our current capabilities and likely always will be.

    However if the goal is to defend against a small scale strike or to protect specific high value targets (aka our missile bases) then we have actually had that ability since the late 80’s all with off the shelf technology.

    Lets take the North Korea Scenario. Assume they manage to assemble 10 and launch 10 ICBM’s each with 3 warheads and 12 decoys and they fire their wad at us, That is 150 inbound targets and lets assume that we manage to intercept a mere 30% of them. That means we successfully will have intercepted around 8 – 10 warheads. Now given that 30 warheads would be pointless to use against our counter strike abilities those warheads will have been targeted at US cities. Are you saying that saving 8 – 10 American Cities is not worth the effort?

    1. Now lets take the first strike by Russia or China, Here we are looking at hundreds to potentially thousands of inbound warheads, however most of them will not be aimed at cities but rather our counter strike capabilities. Here defending a hardened point target is much easier than defending a city because all you need to do is deflect the warhead a half mile off course and the missile silo it was targeting will survive, a far easier task than trying to completely destroy the warhead, with relatively cheap and low tech solutions we could lower the PK (Probability of kill) for each warhead so low that they could never risk a first strike because they could never be assured that they could knock out our retaliatory capabilities. Again something well worth the effort.

      Finally Missile defense is inarguably a legitimate governmental function and in the grand scheme of things doesn’t even cost all that much, $200 Billion over 30 years is frankly speaking a pittance, an average of only around $50 per taxpayer per year

      1. Not to mention even our most advanced MIRV warheads could only spread out their payload over a couple of hundred kilometers. It’s not like a single missile with 3 warheads could hit LA, NY, and DC – they could hit maybe NYC, Newark, and Earl Naval base and that would be at the upper end of their capability for spreading out. The concentration of warheads also makes it easier to defend against.

      2. The political likelihood of either power actually doing that is very low, and there are much cheaper ways keeping it that way. A good start would be to stop antagonizing either with Europe-based missile defense and the Asia-Pacific buildup. We could also stand on our pretense of principle for a change, and tell Israel and the Gulf Cooperation Council member states that we want to get out of the business of defending Jewish and Sunni supremacy against a nation that actually functions more or less as a republic.

  13. The ICBM is our superweapon and has reigned supreme for some fifty plus years, but to assume that with them we have reached the End of History for weapons is foolish. The Battleship was the ultimate weapon for a similar length of time of time but it succumbed to airplanes- much cheaper and more numerous.
    If we don’t make the ICBM obsolete, someone else will, but it’s going to happen.

    1. I’m waiting for quantum-string or Higgs-boson planet busters.

      Intercept this motherfuckers.

      1. Fission-less fusion nuclear war heads will likely be the next step in nuclear weapons. They leave much less radioactivity sitting around.

        I believe that is the true goal of the National Ignition Facility in Livermore.

      2. Boson Planet Buster?

        Awesome! This is great news. Secretary of State Kerry will have something to do at age 90!

  14. Dolphins wearing laser cannons.

    1. We had a 747 wearing a Laser Cannon (along with plans for smaller airborne versions, as well as ground based ones) but ya don’t hear much about them anymore.

      Fell victim to the same kind of ‘too hard/too expensive’ whining from Mr. Chapman, I guess. . .

      1. You may not hear much about them, but the US is still designing and building them:

        Raytheon airs video at Farnborough Airshow of CIWS laser shooting down drone

        Read more: http://www.news.com.au/technol…..z2ODHBqjFl

  15. Calling bullshit: “Yet the rulers in Tehran and Pyongyang persist in thinking that nuclear warheads and delivery vehicles are worth their weight in gold.”

    Has anyone else seen any indication that Iran even wants nuclear weapons? Because I sure haven’t. Way to feed the propaganda and lies, Chapman. Would you prefer the title of Bush or Cheney for your claims of WMD’s?

    1. Just because they have dispensed with transparency as regards their nuclear programs and been using bellicose rhetoric about wiping their neighbors off of the earth for 20 years? Pfffft! Goddamn American warmongers will make anything into a threat, won’t they?

      Also, have you heard of stuxnet? If Iran wasn’t enriching uranium you probably wouldn’t have.

  16. “In controlled tests against sitting ducks, these weapons miss their targets as often as they hit them.”

    Do you want a 50% chance of stopping a North Korean nuke, or a 0% chance?

    And you know, you could fire a few of them to increase your odds.

    Why do Luddites always set the standard for success at perfection? Maybe just because they’re opposed to the system, regardless of how well it works.

    “years away from the ability to field a missile with a nuclear warhead that could hit the United States.”

    Great. We’re “years away” from having LA obliterated by North Korea. I guess we’ve got no worries, then.

    If Reason wants a non interventionist policy, they should all the more be in favor of doing what we can to protect ourselves here at home without intervention elsewhere.

    More and more countries are getting nukes and the missile technology to deliver them, and that would all the more be the case under a non interventionist foreign policy. If you don’t like interventionist pre emptive war, you’d better have some plan ton intervene once a missile is in the air.

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  18. Essentially this article is a bit of a joke that mostly rehashes warmed over counter arguments from the 1980’s. Let’s look at it point by point:

    1) told CNN that North Korea is “years away from the ability to field a missile with a nuclear warhead that could hit the United States.”

    You can’t wait until they are months away (even if you could know that precisely) to deploy an anti-missile system, so this point is a fail.

    2) In controlled tests against sitting ducks, these weapons miss their targets as often as they hit them.

    This is a blatant lie. The tests involved actual missiles moving at high speeds, not sitting ducks. Furthermore, the hit rate is far higher than 50%.

    Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T…..ring_phase

    3) “Its biggest ambition is to knock down a rocket or two from some rogue nation that is willing to risk being turned into a radioactive pile of gravel.”

    This is just a stupid comment. First, the current THAD system can destroy more than two missiles and second only a complete idiot scoffs at the idea of shooting down two nuclear armed missiles that will likely vaporize a major city if you don’t shoot them down.

    So to paraphrase:
    It’s biggest ambition is to knock down a rocket or two from a rogue nation that are about to destroy Los Angeles.

    Gee, it sounds a little more impressive that way now doesn’t it. What a disingenuous twat.

  19. 4) Last year, a report by the National Academy of Sciences noted the essential requirements of such a system and concluded the existing one is “deficient with respect to all of these principles.”

    This is some cherry picking bullshit.

    From the report:
    Major Recommendation 5: As a means to provide adequate coverage for defense of the U.S. homeland against likely developments in North Korea and Iran over the next decade or two at an affordable and efficient 20 –
    yr life cycle cost, the Missile Defense Agency should implement an
    evolutionary approach to the Ground Based Midcourse Defense (GMD)system, as recommended in this report.

    Link: http://timemilitary.files.word…..012-09.pdf

    This guy is a douche bag selling misleading statements that most people won’t bother counter checking.

    1. This guy is a douche bag selling misleading statements that most people won’t bother counter checking.

      In all fairness, you cribbed that from his bio page.

  20. Steve, the Russians would not be afraid of our plans to station antimissile batteries if it were not effective. It is simple logic to keep and continue to improve the systems.

    1. If it were ineffective, the Chinese & Russians would not be interested in stealing it and setting up their own.

      Russia set up 2 ballistic missile stems in the past. I the future they will do so again without trying to bankrupt their military or country.

      In all fairness I am deeply disappointed in Steve. He seems to be Jack London with out the famous novels or the nonwriting experience. Maybe dissappointing is the wrong word. Maybe the right one is depressed that he is writing when he has not lived.

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