Print 93 comment(s) - last by JameelaMOA.. on Nov 24 at 9:17 AM

The U.S. Defense Department claims that its Ground-Based Missile Defense (GMD) and Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) systems make the U.S. homeland invicible from ballistic missile attack. These claims are insane, say two of the nation's top security experts.  (Source: Nato Source/Atlantic Council)

The security researchers claim drone-based interception over the enemy nation is the only reliable way to shoot down ballistic missiles.  (Source: DARPA/Boeing)

Iran is reportedly designing fin-less ballistic missiles that could outwit current U.S. interceptors. Iranian defense officials are pictured here unveiling their new drone bomber, which they nicknamed "the messenger of death".  (Source: Reuters)
They suggest a drone based solution would fix the flaws presented by a ground-based system, using only existing tech

The United States recently followed Israel's claims that it was ready to shoot down any nuclear missile aimed its way, with similar claims of its own.  The U.S. has begun reexamining space-based defenses and has also been quietly upgrading its ground-based missile-defense shield, even as U.S. President Barack Obama pushes his vision of global nuclear disarmament.

A new study, though, published in the 
Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, insists that the U.S.'s claims of security are very flawed.  Authored by two top American security authorities, the study argues that despite recent upgrades and breakthroughs, America assertion that its homeland is safe from any airborne nuclear threat is a "dangerous fantasy".

George N. Lewis, a physicist and associate director of the Peace Studies Program at Cornell University, and Theodore A. Postal, a physicist and professor of science, technology, and national security policy at MIT, authored the new report.

The report specifically targets an April 2010 U.S. government resolution that declared the U.S. to be safe from ballistic missile threats from hostile nations such as Iran and North Korea, thanks to its US Ground-Based Missile Defense (GMD) and Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) systems.  According to Professors Lewis and Postal, though, this new declaration is based on a "technical myth" as Iran is thought to be developing countermeasures to make its ballistic devices harder to shoot down.  Other hostile nations may be working on similar countermeasures.

But the pair of professors isn't just griping about what they view as an ineffective strategy -- they're proposing what seems like a sensible solution.  They advise that rather than rely on what they call a "ineffective, untested, and unworkable" GMD system, that funding instead be put into developing a constantly airborne fleet of stealth drones over the airspace of hostile nations.

That way, rather than trying to shoot down missiles that have already reached the United States, Northern and Western Europe, and Northern Russia -- and likely are deploying countermeasures -- the drones would instead launch fast interceptors taking out the missiles over the hostile country's own airspace, preventing them from deploying effective countermeasures.

The plan would also be kosher with the New START arms reduction treaty, recently signed by U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.  That treaty set a limit of 1,550 ready-to-use ballistic warheads (each) on the U.S. and Russia's respective arsenals.  It also contained language limiting certain missile defense strategies.

The current systems, according to the pair of researchers, are ineffective for two reason.  The first is simple physics.  Interceptors, in their current form, can only accurately predict and target regular trajectories from finned missile designs.  Iran is reportedly designing fin-less designs that would likely cause interceptors to miss.  They could also employ tumbling missile designs, similar to those used to defeat the Patriot Missile Defense in the Gulf War of 1991.

Secondly, decoys can also hinder proper shoot-down.  U.S. and Russian ballistic missiles are equipped with decoy warheads, so that once in space, the real warhead launches amid a swarm of identical dummy warheads, making interception an increasingly impossible task. There's no reason why Iran, North Korea, or others would be unable to develop similar technology.

The authors take special issue with the U.S. Defense Department's claims that the U.S. is already defended from nuclear threats, pointing out that they have no evidence supporting that the system would work in combat.  Professor Lewis comments, "These claims are fantastical, audacious, and dangerous."

A drone solution they say would provide a full answer to the problem and would not require new technology.  Further, shot down warheads would fall on enemy territory should they still manage to activate after being hit by an interceptor.

Professor Lewis concludes, "The situation is urgent, as Iran is already demonstrating countermeasures in flight tests that would render both the GMD and SM-3 long-range missile defense systems ineffective.  If we, as a nation, refuse to confront the fact that our chosen defense system is not reliable, and if we fail to build a robust and reliable alternative system using existing technology, we will have only ourselves to blame if the continental United States suffers a catastrophe as a result of the successful delivery of a nuclear weapon by long-range ballistic missile."

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

How much of a threat is it really?
By HighWing on 11/1/2010 6:32:00 PM , Rating: 3
Now, I'm not saying we shouldn't have any protection against missiles, but it seems to me that attacks from within are more likely, and just as deadly. While it's easy to just launch a rocket and hope it hits it's target, the likely hood of that target being US soil and someone actually DOING it seems far less than someone setting off a bomb from inside the country.... oh wait... that's a proven fact!

First off it is well known fact that we have radar faculties all over the globe, as well as satellites dedicated to watching for such events. I don't know exact numbers but I'm sure it's safe to say that there isn't a rocket launched anywhere near us that we won't know about shortly after it's launched. That being the case, anyone attempting to target the US knows that we would know who did it and react swiftly. With forces all over the globe, and the speed of information today, it's a silly thought to think we wouldn't know where that launch came from and would be unable able to send any counter attack back.

Second, while the exact state of our ability to shoot down any missile is not known for sure, it is known that we posses some ability to do so. So it can be assumed that any missile targeted for the USA, will have one, or more attempts at being shot down, with an unknown chance of those attempts succeeding. And of course if the missile is indeed shot down, than we will be coming back in FULL force. And even if it hits, our forces are scattered all over that there is a very good chance someone will remain to retaliate.

Third, considering the previous two arguments, that means the best chance to actually cause any real great damage is to fire multiple missiles fired within a short time of each other. And I'm not talking about a few missiles, but several dozen in the range of 25+ or maybe even a lot more than that. And when we are talking that many missiles, there are only soo many places in the world that they can come from. And I'm willing to bet we are we are already monitoring those places very closely, and they know we are monitoring them as well.

My whole point here is that I think it's more of a fantasy to think we are in any real danger of a missile attack vs someone smuggling in the warhead of a missile and setting it off! The countries/people that poses the ability to do a missile attack are not dumb. They know there's a good chance their missile attack would not cause any damage, and only bring our forces down on them. Do you really think they would even try knowing that? The ONLY real threat of a missile attack is in combination of several other attacks that would disable our ability to do anything mentioned above. And with that kind of attack there are more things that have to happen exactly right, for any one part to be successful. And realistically very few, if any country possess the ability to launch such an attack. And again, the threat of us being able to come back to them is very real in all scenarios.

"I mean, if you wanna break down someone's door, why don't you start with AT&T, for God sakes? They make your amazing phone unusable as a phone!" -- Jon Stewart on Apple and the iPhone

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki