MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Are We Really Capable Of Shooting Down North Korean Missiles?

Posted by Martin C. Fox on September 22, 2017

The excuse for not shooting down missiles flying over Japan is that they were no threat to the US. Well why are we over there. Why do we continue to limit Japan’s military capability (thanks to WW II unconditional surrender) and make a big deal about being their protector? This would not seem to be a confidence builder for the Japanese citizenry.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-09-21/are-we-really-capable-shooting-down-north-korean-missiles

Maybe the reason we haven’t shot down North Korea’s test missiles is that we can’t. While we all certainly hope that our military would be able to successfully defend the country against incoming missiles, we need to be prepared for any possibility.

According to an article by Joe Cirincione of Defense One, the reason we don’t shoot down North Korea’s missiles when they fire them over Japan is because…

We don’t have the capability.

Joe Cirincione is the president of Ploughshares Fund and the author of several books about nuclear weapons, including Nuclear Nightmares: Securing the World Before It Is Too Late.

According to Cirincione, when Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said, “We didn’t intercept it because no damage to Japanese territory was expected,” this was only partially true. It wasn’t a threat, but they didn’t have the capability to shoot it down due to the altitude.

 
 

Neither Japan nor the United States could have intercepted the missile. None of the theater ballistic missile defense weapons in existence can reach that high. It is hundreds of kilometers too high for the Aegis interceptors deployed on Navy ships off Japan. Even higher for the THAAD systems in South Korea and Guam. Way too high for the Patriot systems in Japan, which engage largely within the atmosphere.

 

All of these are basically designed to hit a missile in the post-mid-course or terminal phase, when it is on its way down, coming more or less straight at the defending system. Patriot is meant to protect relatively small areas such as ports or air bases; THAADdefends a larger area; the advanced Aegis system theoretically could defend thousands of square kilometers. (source)

Well, that’s unsettling. So, what if we engaged the missile before it reached that high?

Cirincione says that too is unlikely to be successful.

 
 

There is almost no chance of hitting a North Korean missile on its way up unless an Aegis ship was deployed very close to the launch point, perhaps in North Korean waters.

 

Even then, it would have to chase the missile, a race it is unlikely to win. In the only one or two minutes of warning time any system would have, the probability of a successful engagement drops close to zero. (source)

This tells me the trillions spent during the cold war on ABM systems and Cray super computers likely never would have worked.

Be seeing you

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I am not a number. I am a free man!-Number 6

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