Skip to comments.Review Cites Flaws in U.S. Antimissile Program
Posted on 05/17/2010 4:32:15 PM PDT by Free ThinkerNY
President Obamas plans for reducing Americas nuclear arsenal and defeating Irans missiles rely heavily on a new generation of antimissile defenses, which last year he called proven and effective.
His confidence in the heart of the system, a rocket-powered interceptor known as the SM-3, was particularly notable because as a senator and presidential candidate he had previously criticized antimissile arms. But now, a new analysis being published by two antimissile critics, at M.I.T. and Cornell, casts doubt on the reliability of the new weapon.
Mr. Obamas announcement of his new antimissile plan in September was based on the Pentagons assessment that the SM-3 had intercepted 84 percent of incoming targets in tests. But a re-examination of results from 10 of those apparently successful tests by Theodore A. Postol and George N. Lewis, being published this month, finds only one or two successful intercepts for a success rate of 10 to 20 percent.
Most of the approaching warheads, they say, would have been knocked off course but not destroyed. While that might work against a conventionally-armed missile, it suggests that a nuclear warhead might still detonate. At issue is whether the SM-3 needs to strike and destroy the warhead of a missile as the Pentagon advertises on its Web site.
The system is highly fragile and brittle and will intercept warheads only by accident, if ever, said Dr. Postol, a former Pentagon science adviser who forcefully criticized the performance of the Patriot antimissile system in the 1991 Persian Gulf war.
In interviews and statements, the Pentagons Missile Defense Agency strongly defended the SM-3s testing record, and said that the analysis by Dr. Postol, an M.I.T. physicist, and Dr. Lewis, a Cornell physicist, was fundamentally mistaken.
The allegation is wrong, Richard Lehner, an agency spokesman, said Wednesday.
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
The Times uses critics of the weapons as its source. What a surprise.
No one ever built a monument to a critic.
Do these guys have anything to offer besides criticism? Do they have a scintilla of constructive advice or options?
(I won’t read a NYT article to find out)
Let me know if you would like to be on or off the ping list
Don't know these fellows, but it seems as though all the past high powered analyses by the prestigious eastern school professors I have seen of missile defense systems, dating back to Safeguard, have been highly negative. All have been highly deserving of many large grains of salt. They tend to leave out pertinent facts.
If the SM3 is the missile I’m thinking of, it’s a hypersonic kinetic kill design. Anything it hits at hypersonic speed will be broken at the least. Nukes are complex - they would not work after being hit. A conventional warhead might fall and explode on impact. Not a 100% kill, but certainly better than having it hit its target.
Yeh, but here Obama is likely over-rating the effectiveness of the antimissile systems in order to have an excuse for minimizing our need for offensive weapons. The usual misuse of analysis is to underplay the effectiveness of the antimissile systems as a reason to defund them ("they don't work anyway"). Politicians don't take defense seriously.
I don't know anything about Lewis, but Postol has a long history of opposing any new weapon systems. This is nothing new for him.
IIRC, Postol has been a critic anti-ballistic missile defenses for a while. Nonetheless, their criticism was interesting from a technical point of view, even if no alternatives are offered.
 Obama Pledges Cuts in Missile Defense, Space, and Nuclear Weapons Programs
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