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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."

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RE: This can be solved diplomatically
By roykahn on 11/3/2010 1:13:28 AM , Rating: 2
Of course countries know that they can't attack America. It's so bleedingly obvious and yet America somehow manages to convince its public that they are constantly under threat from evil countries. If they're not making up BS about WMD's then they're making up BS about making nuclear weapons. After the lies about Iraq's WMD claims, how can anyone believe anything the US says about so-called threats? You're also forgetting that the US is all too happy to supply weapons to terrorist groups as long as the weapons are used in the strategic interests of the US. Not to mention that the US military is itself a terrorist group. But I agree with you that it doesn't matter how many civilians die from US attacks. It's either covered up under lies or somehow rationalized under false information. Because the US is always the good guy, right?

RE: This can be solved diplomatically
By Jaybus on 11/3/10, Rating: 0
By roykahn on 11/3/2010 7:26:41 PM , Rating: 2
Thanks for replying in a calm manner and for using some sort of reasonable debate.

I said that "countries" know they can't attack the US. There's always going to be the possibility of individuals or small groups murdering a small number of Americans within America. 9/11 is small in scale and very short in duration when compared to what America has done to a number of countries including Iraq and Afghanistan currently. There was no military invasion on America. No country was trying to occupy it, control it, or overthrow its government. Compare that to what America has done numerous times to other countries. Compare the number of overseas military bases America has to other countries. Compare the military spending, military budgets, military aid, and weapon exports of America to other countries. There's also a growing trend for America to do as it pleases when it comes to military action. It is a rogue nation that has repeatedly committed war crimes and has no intention of being bound by international law and treaties while being all too happy to point out when other countries do likewise. Then tell me why a country would want to attack the US.

Regarding your comments about Iraq and Kurds, you should know that America did not care about the Kurds. If supporting/protecting the Kurds is somehow beneficial to US interests, then it will be done. If not, then to hell with them. America and other countries have supplied Iraq with weapons and supported them in the past. Please read about the history of US-Iraq relations and see for yourself how hypocritical and manipulative the US has been. America was informed that Iraq had no WMD's. It chose to ignore this information and plow ahead anyway in the hope that something might be found.

As for your comments about civilian deaths - who are you kidding? Do you really think that the US military actually cares about foreign civilians. How can they? For any military personnel, American or not, you can't expect them to care much about civilian deaths especially when they're high above in the sky dropping bombs at the press of a button. They just do their job and their orders are often based on false information, misunderstanding, or just plain evil intentions. Hasn't the information released from Wikileaks taught you anything? Maybe the military are getting better at covering up civilian deaths, but they're certainly not trying to actually reduce them.

By ImJustSaying on 11/5/2010 1:53:17 AM , Rating: 1

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