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US Missile Shield already Defeated? 375

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the already-surrendered dept.
Anonymous Coward writes "Forbes is reporting that although interest in the missile defense system has waned while the US military addresses more pressing matters of immediate concern, the Russians have already developed an anti-missile-defense missile designed to defeat the system. Were the US military to actually prove that the missile defense shield worked, the Russian rocket's "zig-zag" flightpath taken en route to it's target would render the shield useless. Russian President Vladimir Putin says that the non-ballistic trajectory would leave the projectile virtually impossible to down or divert. The author feels inclined to say that the missile defense shield was intended as a defense against rogue states such as North Korea that have not acquired this technology yet."
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US Missile Shield already Defeated?

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  • by pvt_medic (715692)
    Well since this is like the second attempt at creating this missle defense system, why dont we wait till version 3.0 comes out. I am sure they will have a patch to cover this scenario, but then we will discover that through a buffer over run you will be able to defeat the system.
  • by Shadow Wrought (586631) * <shadow.wrought @ g m a i l.com> on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @02:18PM (#14617762) Homepage Journal
    But hasn't the shield failed to even stop missiles when their trajectory is known before th test even starts? I think that this is one of those things that is simply too difficult a task to make work under battle conditions. At least for now...

    • I think that this is one of those things that is simply too difficult a task to make work under battle conditions. At least for now...

      Exactly. Someone really should have told Bush this before he scrapped a perfectly good 30-year old treaty in favor of science fiction nonsense...but then again, they probabaly did. As we all know by now, our fearless leader isn't too keen on hearing things he doesn't want to hear.
      • Someone really should have told Bush this before he scrapped a perfectly good 30-year old treaty

        No. The treaty was with the Soviet Union, the USSR.

        That entity no longer exists. The treaty was useless since the collapse of the Soviet Empire.

        Treaties can also be broken at any time. That treaty would not have stopped nukes from raining down on American cities. The missle defense shield *might*.

        • by Sique (173459) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @03:01PM (#14618307) Homepage
          The treaty was with the Soviet Union, the USSR.

          That entity no longer exists. The treaty was useless since the collapse of the Soviet Empire.


          Wrong. The Union of Independent States formed after the collapse of the Soviet Union was successor in interest for all treaties and contracts. So the ABM contract was still valid.
        • by TripMaster Monkey (862126) * on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @03:04PM (#14618328)

          No. The treaty was with the Soviet Union, the USSR.

          Sophistry.

          The treaty was useless since the collapse of the Soviet Empire.

          Because whatever political entity succeeds the Soviet Empire couldn't possibly launch nuclear missiles at us, could they?

          Treaties can also be broken at any time.

          People can be murdered at any time as well...that doesn't make it right. For this treaty to be abrogated legitimately, one of the necessary conditions for abrogation spelled out in the treaty must be met. To justify his unilateral action, Bush cited Article XV of the ABM Treaty, which states that the Treaty could be abrogated by one of the parties "if extraordinary events related to the subject matter of this treaty have jeopardized its supreme interests." To date, the President has not specified the 'extraordinary events' which supposedly prompted his decision, and has not explained how the United States' continued adherence to the ABM Treaty could 'jeopardize' its 'supreme interests'.

          That treaty would not have stopped nukes from raining down on American cities.

          Funny...the treaty was in existence from 1972 to 2002, ans I don't recall a single nuclear incident on U.S soil during that time. Fast forward to now...no treaty, and Putin's bragging about a missile that can penetrate our defense system (admittedly, not much of a boast, given the pathetic state of the 'missile defense system'). Seems to me there's a bit of a correlation there.

          The missle[sic] defense shield *might*.

          You might want to keep up on current events [washingtonpost.com]. Bottom line: our President threw away a 30-year old treaty like so much garbage, needlessly antagonizing other nations, to pursue a technology that is still firmly in pipe-dream status. Not much of a surprise, though, given that this same President pulled out of the Kyoto Accords on Climate Change, withdrew the US from the treaty creating an International Criminal Court, opposed a Protocol to the Biological Weapons Convention that would allow for inspections and verification, and failed to fulfill US obligations related to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. Again, I can't help but see a trend.
          • "Bush cited Article XV of the ABM Treaty, which states that the Treaty could be abrogated by one of the parties "if extraordinary events related to the subject matter of this treaty have jeopardized its supreme interests.""

            So, a fall of the Soviet Government and the formation of a Russian govt. that doesn't consider the US an enemy (maybe not best freind either but...) isn't an extradinary event in your mind? I don't think Russia care whether or not we build a missile defense system at this time since they
            • So, a fall of the Soviet Government and the formation of a Russian govt. that doesn't consider the US an enemy (maybe not best freind either but...) isn't an extradinary event in your mind?

              While your point is a good one, it's not what Bush has in mind, no doubt. Likely the American people will never get a straight answer, just as we haven't from this administration for any number of borderline or flagrantly illegal or stupid acts. My guess is that the "extraordinary act" that Bush would be most likely to c

    • by MrFlibbs (945469) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @03:47PM (#14618848)
      You're wrong. Some of the tests failed, and some succeeded, but to say that because a single test failed it never worked is simply incorrect.

      As for the Patriot missle performance in the Gulf War, it is just as incorrect to say they didn't work as to say they did. The truth is, they "sort of" worked. I read the official (non-classified) government study on this when it came out. Here's a summary of their conclusions:

      1) Some Scud missiles were successfully intercepted, but the success rate was closer to 50% than the 90% claimed by the military. Some of the Scuds likely broke up on their own because they were modified by Iraq to extend their range using poorly designed modifications.

      2) Only half the damage done by a Scud is due to the warhead. The rest is due to kinetic energy, and this is not changed by a successful intercept. Thus a Patriot missile success only cuts the damage in half and alters where it comes down.

      3) Since the modified Iraqi Scuds are very inaccurate missiles, altering where it comes down was of little value. The Iraqi Scuds were mostly terrorist devices rather than tactical weapons. They lobbed them at the coalition troops in hopes of causing chaos -- not to neutralize military targets.

      Will we ever have a missile defense that can stop close to 100% of any missile fired? Of couse not. However, the technology to shoot down a militarily useful percentage of incoming missiles is indeed possible. To say otherwise is simply not correct.
      • Keep reading more documents. The actuals were closer to 9% for any interaction at all.
      • 2) Only half the damage done by a Scud is due to the warhead. The rest is due to kinetic energy, and this is not changed by a successful intercept. Thus a Patriot missile success only cuts the damage in half and alters where it comes down.

        Cool. If the Patriot missile system makes a saving throw versus Scud, damage is only half of 8d100.

    • You're not wrong (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jd (1658)
      Personally, I'm not enthused with the methods used, anyway. The annual robot table tennis championships have proven time and again that striking moving objects is an extremely difficult problem. And they have the advantage that the bat can be large, relatively speaking, and doesn't have to move very much.

      The methods are only good against specific types of target, so any kind of cruise missile is going to get straight through an anti ballistic missile system. Drones and "intelligent" self-controlling vehicle

      • Re:You're not wrong (Score:3, Informative)

        by DerekLyons (302214)

        The annual robot table tennis championships have proven time and again that striking moving objects is an extremely difficult problem. And they have the advantage that the bat can be large, relatively speaking, and doesn't have to move very much.

        They also have the disadvantage that they are designed by amatuers with limited resources. I.E. apples and oranges.

        OTOH, the history of [S|A]AM missiles shows that hitting a moving object is very doable - when done by a professional organization. (You don't even

  • How are they even supposed to get their missles over the Iron Curtain anyways? =)
  • The missile system is designed to protect the US against rogue states that might like to buy their missiles...if we don't pay up our protection money.
    • Re:Nice. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by coyote-san (38515) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @03:38PM (#14618740)
      Tell me again why one of these rogue states would bother with a very complex, and very visible, ballastic missile system when they could simply send it to the US in a cargo container? Maybe it can't get past the dock (which is hardly a given), but it would still cause immense immediate and economic damage to blow one in a busy port.

      For that matter, blowing it a few miles offshore would still be enough to cause extreme civil disorder and economic chaos.

      Finally, don't forget that launching a missile makes it clear who launched the missile... and invites massive US retaliation. A cargo container leaves a lot of doubt.
  • by the_demiurge (26115) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @02:20PM (#14617776) Homepage
    All we need now is an Anti-Anti-Anti-Missile-Missile to shoot down their Anti-Anti-Missile-Missile.
  • if you need... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by pvt_medic (715692)
    the missle defense system arent we already going to be in big trouble. I hardly think that a first strike today would only consist of ICBM launched from across the globe. If effective it would only help minimize damage.
  • As far as I know, a fixed trajectory only eases the acquisition by targeting systems, but is not a prerequisite for a missile-defense system even working. All that is required is enough lead time for the targeting systems to get a bead on the inbound target, and then it's vapor city.
  • by AKAImBatman (238306) <<akaimbatman> <at> <gmail.com>> on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @02:21PM (#14617794) Homepage Journal
    Were the US military to actually prove that the missile defense shield worked, the Russian rocket's "zig-zag" flightpath taken en route to it's target would render the shield useless.

    Welcome to the game. If you build a better mousetrap, someone will come up with a better mouse. This will then force someone to come up with an even better mousetrap, and so repeats the cycle.

    Personally, I'd much rather have the technology than not. As long as the technology exists, it can be improved upon. Perhaps to the level where the zig-zag isn't good enough. Perhaps we'll reach a parity whereby we'll be able to stop 50% or more of any anti-shield equipped missile. We won't know unless we try. And every bit of progress drops one more small threat out of the equation, leaving us free to concentrate of the big threats.

    The alternative is to throw up your hands and give up.
    • Mouse or Food? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by eldavojohn (898314) *
      And yet the vast majority of Russia lives in poverty [census.gov].

      It's good they've built a better mouse. That's what the people need. *note sarcasm*

      Anyone find any numbers on what these "zig-zagging" missiles cost to develop? Anyone else sick of seeing countries burn money on defense while their people starve?

      What it's come down to is simply Fruedian penis...err...missile envy [zmag.org].
      • Whats intereting to consider as well is do the Russians reallly need a missle that can get around USs shield. Imagine the situation being in reverse, if anyone found out that the US was spending money post cold war developing a a zigzag missle to defeat Russian shield technology they would scream from the hilltops that our terrorist president was preparing to invade Russia.
      • Re:Mouse or Food? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by AKAImBatman (238306) <<akaimbatman> <at> <gmail.com>> on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @02:47PM (#14618133) Homepage Journal
        And yet the vast majority of Russia lives in poverty.

        Considering that my wife is from Russia, I'm well aware of the situation.

        Anyone find any numbers on what these "zig-zagging" missiles cost to develop? Anyone else sick of seeing countries burn money on defense while their people starve?

        According to Putin, the missiles already have this capability. It's just a matter of reprogramming their trajectory.

        That being said, it's up to the Russian government to decide how it spends its money. The missile shield is currently being developed as a general defense. I don't see any reason why Putin wants to go toe to toe with a current ally. Rather, he's just whipping out some nonsense to make himself feel better. Remember, this is the same guy who pocketed a Superbowl ring, and nearly caused an international incident by declaring that no libraries are needed since they can fit the entire contents on microfilm. Trust me, this guy has more gaffes than President Bush, and isn't even as smart to boot. (Which is saying something.)

        Putting Russia back together is a hard job, but I don't believe for a minute that he's the one weilding the real power. He's just the face they put on it. (And not a very good one, at that.)
        • Re:Mouse or Food? (Score:3, Interesting)

          by mahmud (254877)
          Do you speak Russian? How many Putin's speaches have you read? Have you ever listened to his interviews?

          Putin might not be saint, but he is definitely not stupid.

          And Putin being a marionette?

          You sir are one of the most original thinkers of 21st century!

    • You mean attacking others while not takeing a risk yourself?
    • Har- Batman, you are not going to do well here with your consistantly well reasoned posts.
      Anyway, there have been conflicting reports, as I have read that the French and others say that Russia does not really have this weapon.
      And my question is this- If there were one or two ICBMs headed towards us, wouldn't some brave air force pilots go on a mission and fly their planes right into the missiles over the ocean, bringing them down?
      I won't belive that Russia really has these weapons until Putin bangs his s
    • by Surt (22457)
      Yes, there is still a good point in having such a shield, even if it has been beaten: it reduces your list of dangerous enemies to those who have the anti-shield technology. And it presumably adds cost to every missile even those enemies build, reducing the efficiency of their economy.
    • I would rather not have the technology, and spend the $1 Trillian (with a Capital T) on something more useful for American citizens.

      Right now the system is dubious at best, and if technology exists that can defeat it, all that money was wasted.

      So you are right on one point, this will take care of one small threat. But then we won't have any money left to address the big ones! That's not where I'd like to be.

      (Source for figure: http://www.armscontrolcenter.org/nmd/fullcost.html [armscontrolcenter.org])
    • by utexaspunk (527541) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @02:52PM (#14618185)
      As long as we have mutually assured destruction, getting attacked with nuclear missiles by Russia or any other State is not likely to happen because they know it would be suicide. The only reason one would create a missile shield would be to be able to attack with impunity. Even then, unless you can guarantee that the system would be 100% effective (an impossible task) you wouldn't want to risk attacking and relying on your shield. Maybe I'm just old-fashioned, but I think the idea of America launching a nuclear missile attack on ANYONE from safely behind a missile shield is quite un-American. The only vaguely plausible threat would be from rogue groups somehow infiltrating a missile silo and somehow managing to launch one. Considering how heavily guarded those probably are, and that the perpetrators would probably still need launch codes, etc, the idea is unrealistic. If the security is that weak, our money would be much better spent helping those countries secure their missiles.
    • While the efficiency of the system against russian missles might be greatly reduced, this technology can still be deployed against less advanced nations, and act as a deterrent to anyone who may be contemplating attacking us. And yes, if we can find a way to improve the technology and take out the zig-zagging missles, we will again have a greater upper hand against less advanced countries.

    • by antv (1425) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @03:33PM (#14618677)
      /* The alternative is to throw up your hands and give up. */

      The working alternative is MAD. I.e. if anyone attacks US we will have enough time to respond.

      The "missle shield" is unworkable - well, it does it's job of fooling taxpayers into funding Raythenon, but so far it can't even intercept test missles with known trajectory [bbc.co.uk]. And even if we somehow manage to make it "work", it will still be useless against, say, a torpedo with nuke hitting any of our coastal cities. Or against a hijacked airliner with nuke. Or against a nuke delivered by car.

      At the same time customs don't have enough resources to scan all the cargo coming into US [planetark.com], because huge amounts of money are spent on unworkable pork barrel projects like this "missle shield".
    • Welcome to the game. If you build a better mousetrap, someone will come up with a better mouse. This will then force someone to come up with an even better mousetrap, and so repeats the cycle.

      But building a better mousetrap is rather difficult, which is why we have the saying about it.

      The problem is that this "cycle" is so overwhelmingly stacked in favor of the attacker that treating it like some kind of treadmill you just have to have the dedication to stay on is foolhardy and doomed to fail. The problem
  • Why don't we just not go around pissing off other countries?
    It'd be easier than spending all this money on trying to perfect something that people will always find a way around.
    • Ok. The new official religion of the US is Islam. And all women are not to be seen in public without a male family escort. And we should give in to all demands of North Korea. Oh, and let Iran keep enriching nuclear fuel to weapons-grade levels.
      My point is that some people are just pissed at us existing, and that we have so much and they have so little, or that we have different cultures, or whatever. Even if we do help them, they have no problem biting the hand that feeds them. I have no problem wit
  • As far as I am aware, North Korea doesn't actually have ICBMs, so it wouldn't be relevant for them anyway. I was under the impression they only had medium to long range surface-to-surface missiles, so their main deterrent has always been the threat of attacking South Korea or Japan. Correct me if I'm wrong but I didn't think anyone was anywhere near having a land-based anti-missile system for surface-to-surface missiles.
    • Re:North Korea (Score:4, Interesting)

      by stevew (4845) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @02:28PM (#14617878) Journal
      No - but they have subs. Missle plus sub is a bad thing.

      The simple fact is that the shield was NEVER built to defend against the Russians. When it is finally completely deployed, it MIGHT be sufficient to give some protection against the Chineese because they don't have 5000 warheads... And they had something like 18 missles - though I think they are building that number up some as the US proceeds with buliding it's defense.

      So - it is mostly against the "rogue" state.

      The other thing that people don't realize is that this is a system of systems. There are several levels of defense that are being worked on.

      The Aegis cruiser now can be upgraded for theater missle defense (and it has a fair test record.) this is a fielded system.

      Then there is the Airborne Laser sytem (big 747 with BIG laser) that is used to knock out things in the buster phase. (Still very much a technology under development.)

      Finally - Patriots have been upgraded to do a better job than they did during Desert Storm, and actually also have a decent test record.
      • by why-is-it (318134) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @03:35PM (#14618704) Homepage Journal
        The simple fact is that the shield was NEVER built to defend against the Russians.

        Historical revisionism at it's finest! When Reagan proposed the v1.0 missile defense, the USSR/Eastern Bloc was the only potential enemy. Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden were allies back then. Who else might Reagan have had in mind?

        So - it is mostly against the "rogue" state.

        At least that is the current excuse. Much like the justification for the invasion of Iraq, I expect that the rationale will change as circumstances require

        The other thing that people don't realize is that this is a system of systems. There are several levels of defense that are being worked on.

        The fundamental issue is still the same: how to shoot down a bullet with another bullet. It doesn't matter how many layers of abstraction you have, it never becomes any less complex than that. The physics of the problem suggest that the best way to stop a missile from landing is for it not to be launched in the first place. I don't see Bush pressing for disarmament though.

        Besides, a missile is an expensive and complex toy. There are much simpler and cheaper ways to launch a nuclear attack. Some people in this thread have suggested a suitcase bomb. It would be much easier to utilize cargo containers as a delivery mechanism.

        Patriots have been upgraded to do a better job than they did during Desert Storm,

        Well, it wouldn't take much:

        "The results of these studies are disturbing. They suggest that the Patriot's intercept rate during the Gulf War was very low. The evidence from these preliminary studies indicates that Patriot's intercept rate could be much lower than ten percent, possibly even zero." (Statement of Theodore A. Postol before the U.S. House Of Representatives Committee on Government Operations, April 7, 1992)

        The field-test results of what is currently available has not been encouraging. There are failures even with advance knowledge of the exact trajectory of a slow-moving target missile...

        I think it has more to do with corporate welfare than actual defense. Defence department cronies get tons of federal cash and nobody really expects to see a finished product. They just have to rig up an an impressive looking prototype from time to time.

        It's a bad combination - cronyism and PR.

      • Re:North Korea (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Chokai (10224) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @04:23PM (#14619279)
        North Korea's subs are based on technology from the mid to late 1950s, specifically the Soviet Romeo and Whiskey classes and some possibly from the Foxtrot. These were in turn derived from the German type XXI u-boat which was deployed in the last days of WWII. The basic design is over 50 years old. How many of these subs are even capable of operating is a matter of some conjecture but that they lack fuel for even basic training operations is well known. Add to the fact that the North Koreans have no experience whatsoever at handling missiles on a sub at sea. Although they could of course if it was "Hollywood Style", but whether that would work even as a one off is debatable.

        To put just how far the US is ahead, even China's "top of the line" subs which are nuclear are on technology from the 1960s are so far behind the US that we apparently do not assign attack subs to follow them full time as we did to Russian subs during the cold war. They can be found easily at any time, case in point: US subs have followed Soviet/Russian SSBNs for thier entire patrols (90+ days without being detected), read Blind Man's Bluff for a fascinating overview of US Sub operations & espionage.
    • Correct me if I'm wrong but I didn't think anyone was anywhere near having a land-based anti-missile system for surface-to-surface missiles.

      Isn't that exactly what the Patrait systems did (and did fairly well even 10 years ago)? Its the complexities of intercepting an ICBM which is the real problem.
  • Hmm (Score:5, Funny)

    by TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @02:22PM (#14617813)
    Not to sound too critical, but this Russian rocket zig-zag pattern is done on purpose right, not because of bad engineering and poor quality construction?
  • by Silver Sloth (770927) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @02:24PM (#14617830)

    It will be a suitcase bomb delivered by a madman.

    Star Wars is just toys for the boys and pork barrel contracts.

  • What about an EMP? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ShamusYoung (528944) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @02:24PM (#14617835) Homepage
    What I've never been able to figure out, is why are we trying to get a missle that can hit another missle? That is HARD. Laying aside the question as to whether the entire system is a good idea or not, why not design an EMP-based weapon that will detonate NEAR the other missle? Nukes are complex and can't detonate without some sort of computer running the show. Instead of trying to detonate the missle (and spreading its radioactive payload all over the place) it seems like it would be better to kill the computer and keep the weapon confined to its impact crater.
    • EMPs are difficult to produce from a small machine. Large machines could probably generate a fluctuating field that acts as an EMP but any small device that creates an EMP is most likely some form of nuclear warhead.

      So you want to fight fire with fire? Please do include how your device creates an EMP without itself being a nuclear warhead.

      Slim Pickens: "Well, boys, I reckon this is it - nuclear combat toe to toe with the Roosskies. Now look, boys, I ain't much of a hand at makin' speeches, but I g
      • So you want to fight fire with fire? Please do include how your device creates an EMP without itself being a nuclear warhead.

        Detonating a nuke to stop a nuke is not without merit. If the weapon can be intercepted at either a high enough altitude or over a non-populated area (e.g. the ocean), then the otherwise undesirable explosion could save millions of lives.

        I'd be counting on the detonation itself doing the trick, though. If a nuclear warhead doesn't do it, I seriously doubt the EMP will.
      • "So you want to fight fire with fire? Please do include how your device creates an EMP without itself being a nuclear warhead."

        Sure. I'll even give you a choice. One of our nukes detonated 50 miles up against an incoming missile.. or one of their nuclear missiles detonating at an altitude of 1,000 feet directly over your house.

        And your preference is?

    • As I understand it, the missile defense system is intended to attempt a hard kill, but will go for a soft kill if it can get it. (i.e. Using the shockwave to throw the inbound off course or disable it.) An EMP pulse would be of doubtful use as most military hardware is shielded against such pulses. ESPECIALLY warheads.
      • "..most military hardware is shielded against such pulses."

        So if I detonate a nuke a mile away from the incoming target it's shielded against the explosion?

        • So if I detonate a nuke a mile away from the incoming target it's shielded against the explosion?

          Say wha? How do you go from "shielded against EMP" to "shilded against explosions?"

          If the incoming target is a mile outside the blast radius, the shielding it contains is intended to protect it from the EMP pulse that would otherwise fry its sensistive guidance computers.
    • by Erich (151) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @02:49PM (#14618152) Homepage Journal
      Nukes are complex and can't detonate without some sort of computer running the show.

      Incorrect. There was no computer in either of the nuclear weapons used in the field. Most of what you need is a supercritical mass of highly fissile material. The two nuclear weapons used against Japan in WWII used a small, regular explosion to combine two sub-critical masses of fissile material together.

      • "The two nuclear weapons used against Japan in WWII used a small, regular explosion to combine two sub-critical masses of fissile material together."

        Foe shissile.
    • The Nike air-defense system that ringed the US in the latter half of the 20th century had low yield nuclear explosives in the warhead - the idea being that rather than directly hit the oncoming missile, it just had to get nearby and vaporize everything in a few hundred feet.

      Why this system was good enough in the 60's (and not hugely expensive), and now 40 years later has to be replaced by a much more complicated (and less likely to work) boondogle is for some reason almost never discussed in the media...

    • All sorts of reasons (Score:3, Informative)

      by lilmouse (310335)
      Why not use an EMP to knock missles out of the air?

      1. Hard to get a big enough EMP (unless you're using nukes - see below).

      2. Biological warheads are still very dangerous even without any sort of electronic system in the head.

      3. Not needed - the missle shield is already effective when you realize that we'll be putting nuclear warheads on the anti-missle missles.

      There are too many easy ways to defeat the shield - another really easy choice is to drop dummies all over the place (like missle command, except
    • "What I've never been able to figure out, is why are we trying to get a missle that can hit another missle? That is HARD."

      Not that hard actually; the US has had the capability to do that reliably for at least 15 years. Computers are much faster than the physics we can drive with the materials we can fabricate. The design problem is very much a material one.

      The REASON they do it is a simple point of engineering that most people overlook: the typical terminal closing speed exceeds even the detonation v

  • Sharks... (Score:2, Funny)

    by zakkie (170306)
    OK, so who owns the freakin' IP on sharks with freakin' lasers on their heads? Whoever does will win this little pissing contest... sharks with lasers > zig-zag missiles, no doubt.
  • by Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) * <seebert42@gmail.com> on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @02:28PM (#14617883) Homepage Journal
    As our Tow, Dragon, and Tomohawk systems use to avoid being shot down on their way to the target. And they're right- there ain't no defense against it YET.

    I can think up a possible defense, but it'd be rather nasty on the environment- large microwave generators at a high enough power broadcasting a cone that cooks the electronics of any missile within range, thus making evasive missiles purely ballistic. But like I say- it'd also be cooking birds, wildlife, destabilizing the Ozone Layer.....
    • What technology would that be which 'prevents' TOW and Dragon missles from being shot down? Suppressive fire?
      • What technology would that be which 'prevents' TOW and Dragon missles from being shot down? Suppressive fire?

        Both are guided missiles- as in non-ballistic (they don't neccessarily follow the flight path you think they will). That makes them damned hard to shoot down on their way to the target. The difference between the Russian/Tomohawk technology to do this and the TOW/Dragon technology to do this is where the software is being run- in a computer or in a human brain. TOW/Dragon missles are human contr
    • As our Tow, Dragon, and Tomohawk systems use to avoid being shot down on their way to the target. And they're right- there ain't no defense against it YET.

      What?!?

      What!?!

      Antitank missiles do swerve in flight, but only at the end and only so that they can hit the tank on the top, where it has less armor than the side. I don't think it would be practical to make a wire guided missile evade being shot down even if there was something to shoot it down. These are ground to ground weapons you're talking abou

  • President Putin also mentioned that while the Russain Federation has developed the technology, Russsia does not have the funding to actually launch the missle. "With all our rotting submarines, and degrading nuclear facilities, it would just be too costly to construct and maintain one of these new-fangled 'zig-zag' missle. Really, the purpose of this press release is to inspire, uh, what is the term, ah, yes, FUD."
  • This is no surprise (Score:2, Interesting)

    by johndierks (784521)
    Shooting down a ballistic missile that you fire is hard enough. The scale of the problems is immense. They're trying to shoot down an object that is somewhere in 10 billion cubic miles of space, that's going as fast as 15,000 miles per hour. The physics of the problem are near impossible for graceful newtonian arcs, let alone the engineering of such a feat. The solution to the problem is such a tenuous single state solution that adding any other factors (zig-zagging missiles, decoy missiles, or something as
    • Well this would have to be an either/or situation. Clearly nothing going 15000mph is going to be doing much zig-zagging. BTW are there really missles that go that fast while they are anywhere near (within 50000ft or so) of the ground?
  • ...is that the Russians are running their mouths about their nuclear capabilities again. To channel the president, the best defense against Russian missiles is a democratic Russia.
  • by Shihar (153932) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @02:35PM (#14617976)
    Russia really is not the problem. If Russia decides it wants to nuke the US, the US is getting nuked. End of story. Sure, a missile defense system might blunt the blow a little, but the truth is there is no good way to stop a few thousand nukes. If Russia bites, it is going to hurt. Both nations are going to end in a nuclear cloud.

    The real danger is that North Korea or Iran scraps something together that can just barely make it to the US. Then, through political instability, fanaticism, or provocation they lob a few nukes at the US. Such nukes would probably just barely be able to reach the US, and certainly would not have any fancy zig-zagging capabilities. In such a case a missile defense shield would be a damn nice thing to have, even if it can't stop a full Russian assault.

    The real issue is cost / benefit. What are the chances that a nation is going to develop such fanatical fever that it thinks nuking the US and promptly getting glassed over in response is a good idea? The US position on nukes is pretty clear. Nuke us, and we are going to glass you, so it isn't like they are going to be confused by the response.

    It would be nice to throw a few dollars at it and have technology waiting in the wings should we need it or should it ever become cost effective. If I could get an effective ballistics defense system for the cost of an aircraft carrier, I would merrily be all over that. If it is going to cost a fleet of air craft carriers, I am far less enthusiastic. A defensive weapon in the arsenal is nice, but not if it takes Apollo like time and effort to achieve it.

    I would like to see low level funding of a ballistics defense system. I do not want to kludge together a half-working system at massive expense. Work towards getting the technology ready should it be needed, but don't go all out building an elaborate defense system that is massively expensive and only kinda-sorta works until there is a clear threat.
    • Such nukes would probably just barely be able to reach the US, and certainly would not have any fancy zig-zagging capabilities.


      Unless the North Koreans spent a couple of extra bucks and bought the technology from Russia.

    • Realistically, a rogue state with a nuke wanting to hit the US would probably use black market connections to get it on a cargo ship in a US harbor. Smuggling something into the US by conventional means is far more reliable than an untested long-range missile, assuming you're only sending a few at most.
    • by Epi-man (59145)
      What are the chances that a nation is going to develop such fanatical fever that it thinks nuking the US and promptly getting glassed over in response is a good idea? The US position on nukes is pretty clear. Nuke us, and we are going to glass you, so it isn't like they are going to be confused by the response.

      The problem is, there are people out there these days that MAD (Mutually Assured Distruction) doesn't work for. There are rogue groups out there that really don't care if they die, they expect to die
  • If you want to try it again you can...

    http://www.tripletsandus.com/80s/80s_games/missile /missile.htm [tripletsandus.com]

    [[ GAME OVER ]]
  • by tinrobot (314936) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @02:43PM (#14618080)
    I doubt a rogue state would use missiles. Why spend a few billion on a fancy missile system when you can drive the nuke over the border, fly it over in a cargo jet, or float it over in a shipping container?

    Besides, missiles are very visible and give away the country of origin. If North Korea fires a nuclear tipped missile, we'll know exactly where it took off and respond accordingly. If it comes over quietly, we really won't know exactly who sent it.
    • Because the purpose of having nukes and missles is to threaten others, not use. They are leverage in high stakes situations. Now a terrorist group would just blow stuff up and would rather be sneaky. But a nation will want everyone to know what they can do (i.e. lob a nuke into your backyard). But they would never actually use it unless they figured they were doomed anyway.

      Which leads to the correlary: You don't actually need the capability, just for everyone else to believe you have it. The Soviets pl
  • It would be relatively simple and cheap to overwhelm the system with much cheaper drones. Star wars has been and always will be about economics. In the early 80s it was about bankrupting the Soviets, as well as giving us an extra chip to play with in disarmament negotiations that they did not have. Now it's about a President who is faced with an amazingly complex foriegn affairs landscape, and wishes to deal with it in a simplistic way (while making defense contractors rich).

    "Our nuclear threat will not
  • You don't need to do anything fancy to break the defense, like the Russian idea of a zig-zagging warhead. Regardless of the exact implementation, every missile defense system needs to rely on radar for targeting: considering the radar profile of the B-2 is that of a marble, I bet you could do the same thing for an ICBM warhead, but with the profile of a grain of sand. Now consider the fact that this warhead is moving at hypersonic speeds, that there would most likely be dozens if not hundreds of them in f
  • He did not want the US/Canada to develop a missle shield to begin with. Then says his rockets can do somersaults at will to dodge tracking missles...

    Develop the laser based missle defense and forego trying to knock one out with another missle.
  • Never worked... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Tyir (622669)
    Of course, the missle shield never worked anyway, for a simple reason, decoy missles.

    The idea is that the missle defence 'kill vehicle' will launch after it has been confirmed a rogue nation has launched a missle against the US (or North America), and will hunt down and intercept it. The difficult is *not* actually hitting the target, which has been accomplished, but knowing which one the real target is.
    Obviously, any nation sending nukes against the states would send decoy ones as well. As Theodore Po
  • So even though it may be harder to get the ballistic trajectory, the missle isn't going to be going as fast. And we can still track objects even if they zig-zag, pretty darn accurately too. (Extended Kalman Filter anyone?)

    This just sounds like Russian gusto to me.
  • You have to take this to its logical conclusion.

    Both the missle and the anti-missle will be like small, remotely piloted jet fighters. Either pilot may choose to arbitarily change their weapon's vector at any time, as much as they want to.

    The anti-missle will be armed with smaller, higher-velocity rockets to shoot at the missle to:

    1) Make the missle prematurely detonate
    2) Destroy the missle's thrusting capability
    3) EMF jam the missle

    The missle will be armed with smaller, detachable countermeasures such as:

    1
  • Backpack Nuke (Score:2, Insightful)

    by snazzytabs (951249)
    All this complex tech doesn't stop a fanatic with a backpack nuke in a major city....
  • This is incorrect (Score:5, Interesting)

    by j. andrew rogers (774820) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @03:16PM (#14618478)
    This all makes a lot of assumptions about the nature of the new ABM systems that are incorrect. First, the "zig-zag" trajectory is definitely NOT a problem for the terminal guidance package, which was designed to track and destroy agile and evasive targets and is currently deployed in other very successful weapon systems. A ballistic missile has nowhere near the maneuverability and agility of other types of targets this guidance package has a 90+% kill rate on. The primary failure in the ABM tests is in a brand spanking new rocket design that has had numerous problems getting the guidance system where it wants to go due in large part to its extreme performance envelope. It is worth noting that the sensor and discrimination characteristics of the terminal guidance package are much, much better than most people are assuming and is largely impervious to spoofing and decoys. Again, this is well-tested in other weapon systems that use the same underlying terminal guidance technology (e.g. AIM-9X), or in anti-ballistic missile tests on more reliable rockets.

    Regardless of whether it is a good idea to have an effective ABM system in place, the technology will work. The rocket problems (which are a decade past due) are eventually being worked out, as several unrelated weapon systems are dependent on the same rocket technology working correctly. The question is not whether it can work (it can) but whether or not deploying and maintaining a comprehensive ABM system is worth the expenditure, which it may not be. The money spent on the guidance package is widely reused, and the rocket technology is slated to replace many existing rocket powered systems, once they work out the kinks. In that respect, the military research has not been a waste as the primary components are or will be used in many other places. The new ABM systems they are testing have very little relation, either in design or technology, to the old existing systems; most of current "ABM missiles" like the Patriot are anti-aircraft systems where they hacked the software to hopefully hit missiles outside the original design envelope.

    This really should be a policy and fiscal argument, not a technology argument, as the technology will eventually work as originally designed. The argument that there is something fundamentally wrong with the design is a loser and poorly informed, but a much stronger argument can be made about the mission of such a weapon system.

  • by Kefaa (76147) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @03:22PM (#14618549)
    We can retaliate, but this idea that we can "glass their a$$" if they nuke us is just false. We may, and may is really strong word, be able to drop a tactical nuke. But that is about it.

    Why would we not just wipe them out, you ask? Because we do not have "limited theater nuclear weapons." That's the fancy term for "we cannot stop the fallout from moving." So if NK attacks and we just send in one ICBM, we will spread fallout over NK, Japan and China. NK - well they got what they asked for. Japan - they are an ally and we would be really sorry. China -- well they are going to look at this about the way we would if China nuked Mexico (assuming Mexico deserved it), and Texas became a wasteland.

    The middle east? Just as bad. Nuke Syria and you are going to glass a bunch of desert and poison a lot of people. These will then become terrorists of tomorrow (or freedom fighters depending on your view). On top of which Israel would be drawn in, they would use a nuke or two and suddenly you can get all the oil for free but you need a lead suit to fill up at the pump.

    In reality, if they get one to us, they would hurt us big. Not because they would win the war (the knew that would not happen), but they would ruin the economy. Look at post 9-11 economics, four buildings and 2600 people die (very bad). It took two years to get the economy back and we could go to ground zero that afternoon. Now imagine 9-11b where Los Angeles is uninhabitable for even 5 years and having to move 7 million people to other areas of the country.

    As someone said on the Sunday talk show circuit, we have to be right 100% of the time, without creating a prison for our population. They only have to get it right once.
  • by DrSkwid (118965) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @03:57PM (#14618971) Homepage Journal
    and build a fucking great bullet proof dome

    come on US, do it, build a giant bubble and lock yourselves in

  • by InfinityEdge (9122) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @04:16PM (#14619220)

    Read up on where the Ruskies have been spending their defense dollars. Functional anti-ABM missiles is very possible.

    Sunburn/moskit/Brahmos http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/russi a/moskit.htm [globalsecurity.org]

    The 3M82 "Mosquito" missiles have the fastest flying speed among all antiship missiles in today's world. It reaches Mach 3 at a high altitude and its maximum low-altitude speed is M2.2, triple the speed of the American Harpoon. The missile takes only 2 minutes to cover its full range and manufacturers state that 1-2 missiles could incapacitate a destroyer while 1-5 missiles could sink a 20000 ton merchantman. An extended range missile, 9M80E is now available.

    http://www.sinodefence.com/missile/antiship/3m80.a sp [sinodefence.com]The missile is armed with a conventional 300 kg penetrating warhead containing 150 kg of high explosive, or (in the Russian Navy) a 200 kiloton nuclear warhead. Even with a conventional warhead, 3M-80E missile is large enough so that one hit from a single missile could seriously damage or possibly even sink a U.S. Navy major surface combatant, a hit from one or possibly even a few conventionally-armed Moskit missiles might not be enough to halt flight operations on a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier because of the carrier's much larger size and its high degree of compartmentalization. A nuclear-armed 3M-80E Moskit, however, could easily destroy a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier (and any other nearby ships), even if the warhead detonates at some distance from the carrier.

    http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/india /brahmos.htm [globalsecurity.org]India expects to significantly enhance its long-range strike abilities with the BrahMos cruise missile, jointly developed by New Delhi and Moscow. The supersonic missile -- which derives its name from the Brahmaputra and Moscow rivers in both countries - has a range of almost 300 km and is designed for use with land, sea and aerial platforms. The Indian Air Force (IAF) is reportedly considering the possibility of fitting the BrahMos on its Su-30 combat jets. The production will commence by end of 2003 for induction in the year 2004.

    http://www.hinduonnet.com/2005/04/16/stories/20050 41602941400.htm [hinduonnet.com]BrahMos is essentially an anti-ship supersonic cruise missile that flies at a speed of 2.8 to 3 Mach (2.8 to three times the speed of sound). It can take out targets 290 km away.

    http://www.brahmos.com/ [brahmos.com]Brahmos web page SS-27 / Topol-M / RS-12M(1|2) http://www.missilethreat.com/missiles/ss-27_russia .html [missilethreat.com]he Russian SS-27, or Topol-M, is an intercontinental-range, ground-based, solid propellant ballistic missile. It represents the pinnacle of ballistic missile technology, incorporating modern fuel and warhead designs, as well as being capable of being launched from both missile silos and Transporter-Erector-Launcher (TEL) vehicles. Current Russian accounts stress that the SS-27 is invulnerable to any modern anti-ballistic missile (ABM) defenses. Yuriy Solomonov, director of the Moscow Institute of Heat Technology and designer-general of the Topol family of missiles, has stated that the SS-27 will be the foundation of the Russian strategic nuclear arsenal by 2015.

    http://www.fas.org/nuke/guide/russia/icbm/rt-2pmu. htm [fas.org]The single-warhead RT-2UTTH Topol-M is an advanced version of the silo-based and mobile Topol intercontinental ballistic missile. The SS-25 Topol is generally similar to the American Minuteman-2, while the more sophisticated SS-27 Topol-M is comparabl

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