US tests scud capabilities in Pacific

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Posted by Lilly from ? ( on Tuesday, December 03, 2002 at 5:19PM :

In Reply to: more on US nuclear testing in the pacific posted by Lilly from ? ( on Tuesday, December 03, 2002 at 12:47PM :

I used to go horse back riding w/ my best friend in high school on Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, AL (the place where that guy was speaking from)... we came across lots & lots of streams w/ signs on the paths saying "warning: toxic water"... & after cleaning up the horses, we'd sometimes go eat lunch at the Officer's Club. So many of my friends from high school joined the military... straight out of high school, one of my girl friends went into the Airforce Academy - she was 1/2 Philipino & 1/2 Guamanian - my horseback riding best girl friend is now in the Navy, a couple of my guy friends joined the Marines, & one guy friend went to West Point. It was weird... they are all such good people - I don't want to see them in a bad way.

Anyway, this story below is interesting, b/c it tells about how the US gov't was testing SCUD capabilities even in 1997, further confirming that Iraq never left the US gov't radar.

Success for classified target, sensor experiments
INSIDE THE ARMY, Vol. 9, No. 7, February 17, 1997
[Copyrighted material reproduced with their permission]

A Scud missile acquired by the United States to test its weapons and
sensors against real-world threats was shot down by an advanced Patriot
missile system early this month, according to government documents and
Officially the Space and Strategic Defense Command and the Ballistic
Missile Defense Organization would say only that the Patriot PAC-2 and
Guidance Enhanced Missiles, fired Feb. 7 at Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific,
hit a classified target. But BMDO Director Lt. Gen. Lester Lyles told a
luncheon crowd in Huntsville, AL, last week the target was in fact a Scud
missile, several attendees said.
Both the PAC-2 and GEM missiles were fired, but officials said the
PAC-2, fired first, was likely responsible for the intercept. The test was
designed with two objectives: demonstrating the utility of Kwajalein as a
theater missile defense site, and gathering data on the classified target.
Former and current Army officials say the Patriot test's larger
significance lies with the target, not the intercept. These officials told
Inside Missile Defense last week it was a "Scud-like" target using liquid
propellant -- most likely an actual Scud, as Lyles confirmed in his Feb. 13
The target is a part of a classified program dubbed Willow Dune, Army
documents state. While an SSDC press release said the objectives of the test
were to "obtain sensor data on target ballistic missiles and to demonstrate
the feasibility of [TMD] intercepts," the documents get more specific. They
show the intercept was the secondary motive: the "primary objectives" were to
"demonstrate target flight test procedures, measure target flight infrared
signatures, measure target missile dynamic radar cross section signatures,
and characterize target missile performance."
"The purpose of the test is to not only demonstrate an intercept
capability, but lots of sensors, including national assets, were used," said a
source familiar with the test program. "We calculated a hell of a lot of
As part of the test, the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization carried
out a system integration test, which was deemed successful.
In addition to Kwajalein radars, other sensors were gathered at the
Atoll to observe the target in action. They include the Theater High Altitude
Area Defense ground based radar, the Airborne Surveillance Testbed, the High
Altitude Observatory/Infrared Instrumentation System, Cobra Judy, an Aegis
ship, and P-3 aircraft. The "national assets" used included the Defense
Support Program, an official said.
The Patriot missiles were launched from Meck Island toward the target,
which was fired from Bigen Island, Aur Atoll. According to documents, early
returns show the target "performed flawlessly and had an extremely successful
burn and trajectory."
The test is the first of its kind at Kwajalein, where theater missile
defense testing is planned for THAAD's engineering and manufacturing
development phase. Normally, Patriot tests are conducted at White Sands
Missile Range, NM.
A BMDO spokesman confirmed Lyles statement last week, but offered no
further details. SSDC spokesman Mike Biddle declined to comment on the nature
of the target. He explained that Kwajalein was used for the test because a
"longer range was necessary to test this new and different target." The test,
he added, "proves TMD testing is possible at [Kwajalein]."
It also showcases Patriot's ability to shoot down Scuds, officials note.
Earlier versions of the missile were used with great fanfare in the Persian
Gulf war, but the Army's initial claims of overwhelming success were later
tempered by studies showing Patriot hit only a few of the Scuds launched by
Saddam Hussein toward Saudi Arabia and Israel. Although the missiles are
relatively primitive, using 1960s technology, Hussein showed they can be
effective terror weapons.
The United States has been trying in earnest to figure out how to defeat
Scud missiles since the war, expecting to face them again. Scud variants are
easily procured on international arms markets, and numerous countries possess
The Willow Dune tests are classified in detail, a source states, because
potential enemies with similar missiles could alter their use of them if they
know how the United States has tested them. More flights are scheduled for
later this month, officials said, with others involving more sophisticated
threat missiles to be conducted over the next few years.
According to government and industry officials, the United States has
acquired many Scuds in order to test its own sensors and shooters against
them. Some are more advanced than the one fired early this month. "There's
some much newer, much better systems," the industry official says. Some of it
"has been around for years" undergoing non-flight testing -- the "coup de
grace," the official adds, is actually firing them. -- Daniel G. Dupont

-- Lilly
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