Posted by Sadie from ? (18.104.22.168) on Wednesday, September 24, 2003 at 11:03AM :
In Reply to: Re: Shlamalukh Azhi posted by Sadie from ? (22.214.171.124) on Wednesday, September 24, 2003 at 10:39AM :
Here's another article about the missile defense sham.
Pentagon's $60 Billion Missile Defense Program Flawed, Experts Say
By Alex Canizares
Special to SPACE.com
posted: 07:02 am ET
23 May 2000
WASHINGTON (States News Service) -- With heavy backing in Washington, the Pentagon is pushing to deploy a $60 billion missile-defense system to thwart missile attacks pointed at the United States.
But the plan to build an arsenal of "kill vehicles" to destroy long-range enemy missiles 140 miles (225 kilometers) above Earth is coming under heavy criticism from independent defense experts who say it lacks the technology to work.
"We wouldn't be spending a billion dollars -- billions of dollars on developing a National Missile Defense System unless we had some degree of confidence that we can make that discrimination and make it in time to be useful."
Scientists and defense experts say the idea of using 250 interceptor "kill vehicles" to destroy warheads at orbital altitudes has not been tested enough -- only four times in recent months -- and is being pushed ahead too quickly for political reasons.
Following another test in July, President Clinton is scheduled to decide by the fall whether to move the program from its testing phase to construction in Alaska.
Criticism grew more tense last week, when a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor said he had information showing the Pentagon covered up the system's flaws in a 1997 test. He has asked the White House to investigate the cover-up.
All of this, professors and defense experts say, may enflame tensions with U.S. allies and undermine disarmament efforts with countries building or already having nuclear or biological weapons, such as Russia. President Clinton will urge Moscow to cut its nuclear weapon stockpile under the START 2 treaty in a visit to Moscow next month.
Citing the possibility of a new arms race, some observers conclude that the plan should be reexamined, if not scrapped altogether.
"There's a growing consensus that you should wait and debate," said Larry Korb, Council on Foreign Relations director of studies and former assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration. "Then you need to make sure that by deploying it you don't undermine your security, where [the] Russians stop destroying weapons or the Chinese build more or the Europeans think you are decoupling European security."
The criticism is focused on the kill vehicle's ability to home in on a live nuclear, chemical or biological warhead from among 10 or 11 decoys, and that current tests fail to take into account the ease with which an enemy can conceal a live warhead by disguising it as a decoy.
The plan is designed to curb threats from "rogue" states that either lack or have infant nuclear or biological weapon capability. North Korea is expected to have the ability to fire a missile at the United States as early as 2005.
The idea works as follows: satellites orbiting Earth see an incoming missile; infrared sensors are alerted and track the warhead; "kill vehicles" (made by Boeing and Raytheon) are launched; using heat-seeking sensors they locate and destroy the real warhead while disregarding decoys.
Decoys are often made out of aluminum balloons that have a sensor profile mimicking 3-foot-long, 16-inch-diameter (1-meter-long; 40-centimeter-diameter) cone warheads.
The warheads are tracked using high-frequency radars out of a Colorado Air Force base, and the "kill vehicle" must be able to home in on the warhead on its own before destroying it.
The Pentagon is standing by the plan. "We wouldn't be spending a billion dollars -- billions of dollars -- on developing a National Missile Defense System unless we had some degree of confidence that we can make that discrimination and make it in time to be useful," said Kenneth Bacon, Defense Department spokesman recently.
But in four tests of the system so far -- relatively few for a major defense program in its infancy -- telling decoys apart from warheads appeared to be challenging. While a test last October went smoothly, a January test failed when the interceptor missed by 150 yards (137 meters).
Some tests were faulty for what they left out, said Lisbeth Gronlund, senior staff scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The tests didn't take into account "countermeasures" the enemy could use, such as putting the warhead inside balloons that travel alongside, Gronlund said, and "if the attackers release a lot of balloons and put a warhead in a balloon -- game's up," she said. The kill vehicle can also be thrown off by decoys that give off heat by simply being spray painted in certain colors.
The Pentagon's current tests of the system assume rather precise knowledge about what an enemy's warhead would look like and how it would act, Gronlund said, a notion which she finds "absurd."
Now, accusations of a cover-up are fueling the criticism. Theodore Postol, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology science professor who studies national security policy, says he has documents showing that crucial data in an early test of the system were removed to make the results appear successful.
The tampered data "clearly indicate that they have no way to discriminate between the balloons and the warhead," Postol said. "They tampered with the data."
Postol raised his concerns in a May 11 letter to the president's chief of staff, John Podesta. The defense department's ballistic missile department did not return calls seeking comment.
Postol's documents came from a Boeing TRW engineer, Mira Schwartz, who blew the whistle on her company for using mathematical gimmicks to jigger the tests. TRW is fighting the fraud case in court.
Meanwhile, the Defense Department's Bacon downplayed Postol's findings, saying the 1997 tests are no longer relevant because the Boeing kill vehicle used at the time has been replaced by a Raytheon model.
"But clearly, this program is still a young program," Bacon said, adding that the Pentagon plans to run another test in early July.
Despite the criticism, the Clinton administration and the GOP-controlled Congress are backing the program wholeheartedly, citing the need to protect the United States against intercontinental ballistic attack.
But critics say even if the tests weren't tampered, the system puts security relations with Europe and China, both wary of American defense-building, at risk.
Two former Clinton administration deputy defense secretaries, John Deutch and John P. White, along with Harold Brown, who was President Carter's defense secretary, came out against the missile-interceptor plan in an article in the journal Foreign Affairs.
Postol said: "Political expediency has taken over from sound military-technology development. It's not possible that people can be this ill-informed."
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