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Friday, June 02, 2017

We May Not Be Able to Stop a North Korean Missile - The New York Times

I think there is little chance of a suicidal, Korean missile attack on the US or our allies but the concept of a working missile defense system, at this time in history, (Reagan's Star Wars Defense), is a far greater danger.  The false sense of security of such a system can breed aggressiveness and recklessness.  Can you imagine President Trump with such a system?

"When the collision with the mock intercontinental ballistic missile occurred on Tuesday afternoon, the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency was filled with excitement and relief. The first full intercept test in three years of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system was deemed a success. Some proponents of the program have presented the test as proof that the $40 billion system is capable of defending the United States against long-range missiles that could, in the future, be launched by a rogue nation like North Korea.

The larger context, however, tells a very different story. Of the 10 tests of the system since 2004, when the Bush administration prematurely declared it operational, six have failed to destroy the target, including three of the last five tries.

More revealing than the test record are the actual tests themselves. Each is highly scripted to maximize success. The timing and other details are provided in advance, information that no real enemy would provide. The weather and time of day are just right for an intercept. An adversary would use complex countermeasures, such as decoys, alongside the real missile to try to fool the defense system, but only simplistic versions of this trick have been included. Under realistic testing conditions, the program’s success rate would almost certainly be lower.

As a member of Congress, I held leadership positions on the subcommittee that oversaw the missile defense program. During hearings, Pentagon officials repeatedly overstated confidence in the program, understated technical limitations and dismissed concerns from physicists and other experts.

This false sense of security persists today. Multiple senior military officials have recently suggested that a North Korean missile could be shot down with our existing capabilities. One prominent example came from Gen. Lori J. Robinson, the head of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, who told a Senate committee that she is “extremely confident of our capability to defend the United States of America and be able to intercept an ICBM should it reach our homeland.” But with so many test failures in highly scripted environments, how could anyone be confident?"....

We May Not Be Able to Stop a North Korean Missile - The New York Times

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