MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Mutual Assured Destruction – The Unz Review

Posted by Martin C. Fox on October 25, 2017

Remember after desert storm and the Iraq invasion we heard about 80% guided munitions success rates after a shock and awe event only to find out later it was 20%? Can we hit the barn door?

http://www.unz.com/pgiraldi/mutual-assured-destruction/

The claim of 97% reliability for the U.S.’s anti-missile defenses is being challenged by Cirincione and others, who argue that the United States can only “shoot down some…missiles some of the time.” They make a number of arguments that are quite convincing, even to a layman who has no understanding of the physics involved. I will try to keep it simple. First of all, an anti-missile interceptor must hit its target head on or nearly so and it must either actually strike the target or explode its own warhead at a close enough distance to be effective. Both objectives are difficult to achieve. An Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) travels at 5,000 meters per second. By way of comparison a bullet fired from a rifle travels at about one fifth that speed. Imagine two men with rifles standing a mile apart and firing their weapons in an attempt to have the bullets meet head on. Multiply the speed by five if one is referring to missiles, not bullets. Even using the finest radars and sensors as well as the most advanced guidance technologies, the variables involved make it much more likely that there will be a miss than a hit. Cirincione observes that “…the only way to hit a bullet is if the bullet cooperates.”

Second, the tests carried out by the Pentagon to determine reliability are essentially fraudulent. Contrary to the Donald Trump comment, the 97% accuracy is an extrapolation based on firing four anti-missile missiles at a target to make up for the fact that in the rigged tests a single interceptor has proven to be closer to only 56% accurate, and that under ideal conditions. This statistic is based on the actual tests performed since 1999 in which interceptors were able to shoot down 10 of 18 targets. The conclusion that four would result in 97% derives from the assumption that multiple interceptors increases the accuracy but most engineers would argue that if one missile cannot hit the target for any number of technical shortcomings it is equally likely that all four will miss for the same reason.

The tests themselves are carefully scripted to guarantee success. They take place in daylight, preferably at dusk to ensure maximum visibility, under good weather conditions, and without any attempt made by the approaching missile to confuse the interceptor through the use of electronic countermeasures or through the ejection of chaff or jammers, which would certainly be deployed. The targets in tests have sometimes been heated to make them easier to find and some have had transponders attached to make them almost impossible to miss. As a result, the missile interceptor system has never been tested under realistic battlefield conditions.

Even the federal government watchdog agencies have concluded that the missile interception system seldom performs. The Government Accountability Office concluded that flaws in the technology, which it describes as “failure modes,” mean that America has an “interceptor fleet that may not work as intended, prompting one Californian congressman John Garamendi to observe that “I think the answer is absolutely clear. It will not work. Nevertheless, the momentum of the fear…of the investments…[of] the momentum of the industry, it carries forward.”

The Operational Test and Evaluation Office of the Department of Defense has also been skeptical, reporting that the GMD in Alaska and Hawaii has only “…a limited capability to defend the U.S. Homeland from small numbers of simple intermediate range or intercontinental ballistic missile threats launched from North Korea…the reliability and availability of the operational [interceptors] are low.”

Be seeing you

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

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