Tags: Emerging Threats | Homeland Security | Iran | North Korea | ballistic | intercept | missiles

US Missile Defense Systems Dangerously Flawed

Image: US Missile Defense Systems Dangerously Flawed

A U.S. Army operator looks at a monitor showing the Korean Peninsula during a demonstration of the Joint Tactical Ground Station System. (Itsuo InouyeAP)  

Monday, 30 Jan 2017 08:25 AM Current | Bio | Archive

A public document from the Pentagon’s chief testing office reports that the U.S. military’s system which is specially intended to intercept ballistic missiles from rogue countries such as North Korea and Iran can’t be relied on.

At 1:57 pm on a sunny Jan. 28, 2016 day, a three-stage interceptor launched from the California Vandenberg Air Force Base was to make a fly-by of a mock enemy warhead deployed into space from a C-17 military transport aircraft flying west of Hawaii.

\Hundreds of technicians and support staff stationed on Pacific vessels and at various military installations followed the scene taking place high above the Pacific on radar.

The results weren’t as follow-up announcements advertised.

One the interceptor’s four thrusters stopped working, peeled away from the intended course, and remained inoperable through the final "homing phase" of the test when the attached "kill vehicle" was supposed to be close to its target.

Yet within a few hours after that test, missile agency contractors issued press releases approved in advance of the launch which repeatedly and misleadingly characterized the event using the words "success" and "successfully."

More accurately, as the annual fiscal year 2016 "Department of Defense’s Director, Operational Test and Evaluation" (DOT and E) points out, U.S. Ground-based Midcourse Defense [GMD] test programs have literally gone off target. In that report’s words, "GMD intercept flight tests have not adequately spanned the operational battlespace."

The DOT and E report also notes that "the reliability and availability of the operational [ground-based] interceptors are low," observes a continuing discovery of "new failure modes during testing," attributes problems to heavy reliance upon facility-based and component-level tests, and warns about inadequate cybersecurity assessments.

GMD reliability came under heightened scrutiny after a series of test flight failures which began in 2010. In 2011 the missile agency and its contractors designed a new "alternate divert thruster" to solve internal guidance malfunctions attributed to rocket fuel system oscillation vibrations.

The latest test failure occurred using that new, improved thruster.

Pentagon scientists speaking anonymously to the Los Angeles Times.com reported that the interceptor missed its target at a distance "twenty times greater than expected."

One undisclosed source stated, "The mission wasn’t successful." He explained that the thruster . . . "did not provide the control necessary for a lethal impact of an incoming threat."

According to the Times, since originating in 2004 the $40 billion GMD program has reportedly "failed to intercept and destroy mock warheads about half the time."

Compounding these dismal reliability odds, opposing countries would most certainly deploy large numbers of decoys intended to overwhelm defensive intercepts.

Potentially even worse, America and our allies face more advanced threats from Russian and Chinese hypersonic missiles carrying multiple nuclear warheads capable of targeting locations anywhere in the world. Flying at up to 10 times the speed of sound, they can only be shot down using high-powered lasers.

The U.S. presently lacks any near-term capability to accomplish this.

Out of the Department of Defense's $7.5 billion 2017 budget, only $23 million is provided for a low-power laser capable of targeting hypersonic weapons, with no tests of that capability currently planned until 2021. In addition, the Obama administration Pentagon had stressed that the U.S. hypersonic program will not carry nuclear weapons.

In April, 2016, China conducted its seventh successful hypersonic vehicle test.

That occurred just three days after Russia demonstrated its second . . . a hypersonic glider launched atop a ballistic missile from a base near the Kazakhstan border.

An armed version is scheduled to go into operation by 2018 aboard a new Pak DA stealth bomber now under development. Jane’s Intelligence Review reports that Russia may be able to deploy up to 24 hypersonic nuclear delivery vehicles between 2020 and 2025.

Beijing’s hypersonic glide vehicle fired from central China has reportedly reached speeds of over 7,000 miles per hour. The Congressional Sino-U.S. Economic and Security Review Commission reports that the program is "progressing rapidly," and that a new strike weapon could be deployed by 2020.

A powered version (rather than glider) under development may be operational by 2025.

Quoting China National Security Policy Committee researcher, Li Bingyan in The Washington Free Beacon, "Only by matching real-time information with zero-time firepower [lasers] can one achieve the operational result of destruction upon detection." 

As Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., chairman of the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee, told The Washington Times, "I’m troubled that Russia and China continue to outpace the U.S. in development of these prompt global strike capabilities, complain about our tepid development programs, and the Obama administration’s ideological reductions to the Missile Defense Agency budget have denied that agency resources to do anything to develop defenses."

Such circumstances are both logically and literally defenseless.

Recently confirmed Homeland Security Director Gen. John Kelly backed by a new commander in chief, Secretary of Defense and proactive Congress must rapidly intercept and shoot down these failing and dangerous policies.

Larry Bell is an endowed professor of space architecture at the University of Houston where he founded the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture (SICSA) and the graduate program in space architecture. He is the author of “Scared Witless: Prophets and Profits of Climate Doom”(2015) and “Climate of Corruption: Politics and Power Behind the Global Warming Hoax” (2012). Read more of his reports — Click Here Now.


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A public document from the Pentagon’s chief testing office reports that the U.S. military’s system which is specially intended to intercept ballistic missiles from rogue countries like North Korea and Iran isn't reliable. Congress must rapidly intercept and shoot down failing and dangerous policy.
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Monday, 30 Jan 2017 08:25 AM
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