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April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘missile defense’

Why Does the NY Times So Hate Missile Defense?

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

Originally published at Gatestone Institute.

Recent news is that both North Korea and Pakistan have sought help in developing EMP weapons; Iran has launched its missile tests in an EMP mode. The U.S. could, for a small additional expense, protect the country from EMP and nuclear threats through the production of short and medium defense radars and interceptors, now available and in the U.S. inventory.

In nearly two thousand stories and editorials since President Reagan identified missile defense as a critical new capability needed for America’s security, the New York Times has rarely found anything positive to say about America’s first line of defense against enemy missiles.

In the past few weeks, editors of the New York Times continued, announcing their opposition to the newly considered East Coast missile defense site, and describing it as “unnecessary.” [June 4, "An Unnecessary Military Expense"]

Contrast this to how they report on other offensive missile developments by America’s enemies.

North Korean threats to launch offensive rockets at America and its allies, for example, are described as “puzzling” [May 21, 2013, "N Korea Launches Missiles for Third Straight Day"].

Russia’s possible sales of anti-ship missiles to Syria are described as an “indication of the depth of support” of Moscow for Damascus (May 17 “Russia Sends More Advanced Missiles to Aid Assad”).

Hezbollah threats to use rockets against Israel are carefully described as in “retaliation,” implying of course any attack would be Israel’s fault. [May 10, "Hezbollah Threatens Israel over Syria Strike"]

In short, offensive missile deployments by America’s adversaries enjoy whitewashed explanations, while American efforts to defend itself and its allies from these same threats come in only for criticism.

The same New York Times logic was especially on display in 2002. Times Editor Bill Keller argued then that if President Bush withdrew from the ABM treaty the possibility of more nuclear arms control in the future would be very low. He described US missile defenses as a search for an “unfettered” US security policy that sought to “neutralize the power of countries such as North Korea and Iran”, (as if this was a bad idea!)

Keller approvingly referenced a speech by Jack Mendelssohn of the Arms Control Association in which he said that a Chinese invasion of Taiwan could not be confronted unless the US had an effective missile defense, as Washington would “hesitate to come to the island’s aid because of Beijing’s nuclear weapons.”

Keller apparently is aghast that, if the US had a missile defense in place, America might actually defend Taiwan from invasion.

Keller claims the missile defense “schemers” [those supporting their deployment] just want to get into a war with China and might end up spurring an arms race as well.

Added to this is his claim that missile defense advocates are also “deceivers,” seeking secretly to end all arms control restraints on US nuclear weapons.

Is this actually how things turned out? Did arms control disappear as the US deployed protective missile defenses? Well, by the end of 2004, the Bush administration had deployed an initial series of missile defense interceptors against long range missiles, plus hundreds of short and medium range interceptors. To accomplish this, the US did have to jettison the ABM Treaty, which the Bush administration did in 2002.

At the same time, however, the US and Russia secured under the Moscow Treaty a collective reduction of 63% of US’s strategic deployed warheads, with both countries ending up with 2,200 deployed strategic nuclear warheads compared to the 6,000 allowed under the Start I treaty.

Progress on US-Russian arms control and US missile defense deployments continued. By the end of the decade, with the addition of the 2010 New Start Treaty, US deployed warheads fell to 1,550 while missile defense interceptors of all kinds rose to over 1,250. When allied forces are included, the number of defense interceptors, while the exact number is classified, probably exceeds 2,000.

Nuclear weapons down. Missile defense interceptors up.

What the New York Times concluded could never be accomplished had been in fact achieved. But the New York Times apparently never got the message.

During both the Clinton and Bush administrations, the growing capability of Iran missile forces eventually pushed NATO jointly to call for the deployment of better missile defenses.

The Bush administration secured agreement to deploy interceptors in Poland and complimentary radars in the Czech Republic.

Although nuclear weapons arms control had accelerated, simultaneously with the deployment of over 1000 defense interceptors, the New York Times continued to complain.

The Czech and Polish deployments, said the New York Times, would “anger Russia” [April 15, 2008]. A month later, an “expert analysis,” cautioned the Times, cast serious “doubt” on the capability of the proposed system [May 18, 2008].

The analysis of course turned out to be bogus. The two-stage interceptor being proposed for Poland worked and had been tested. The Czech-based radar was similarly qualified for the job.

The Russians ginned up media opposition to the NATO missile defense deal, and then used threats of nuclear-armed missile attacks to delay its deployment.

By the fall 2009, therefore, with a new administration, the Polish and Czech sites previously planned were abandoned by the new administration.

But ironically, new European alternative sites were suggested instead by the new American administration, such as Romania. And instead of a two-stage missile defense interceptor, it was proposed that a new land-based “version” of the Navy Standard Missile (SM) be developed and deployed at a new European site, but sometime after 2020. It became known as the fourth phase of the EPAA or European Phased Adaptive Approach, or SM-3 Block II-B, and was designed to deal with long-range Iranian rockets.

But even that plan eventually came unraveled. Following North Korea’s recent missile launch tests and its explosion of another nuclear device, the administration changed course again.

The fourth phase of the EPAA was redesigned, and in all likelihood cancelled. The Iranian missile threats to Europe appeared to no longer be taken seriously by the administration.

Instead, it was announced that 14 ground-based missile interceptors, originally scheduled for deployment in Alaska by the Bush administration (but cancelled in 2009), would in fact go forward, and provide some additional protection to the United States (but not NATO) from emerging missile threats from Iran and North Korea.

On March 15, trying to maintain its perfect record of hostility to missile defense, the New York Times, twisting itself, acknowledged that while the added West Coast deployment was indeed in response to North Korean “provocations,” such defense was probably not needed because even without any U.S. defenses, Pyongyang would “surely be destroyed” if it attacked the United States.

And, added the Times, such a defense response by the United States might give North Korea “the satisfaction of making the rest of the world jumpy.” (And we certainly could not have that!)

There are, however, bipartisan reasons why the Times is wrong.

As Congressman Trent Franks (R-AZ) and Congresswomen Yvette Clarke (D-NY) told a recent Capitol Hill conference, the missile threats emerging from Iran and North Korea now might very well involve an EMP nuclear device capable of rendering the U.S. electrical grid and infrastructure useless. Tens of millions of Americans would be at risk of dying, as two Congressional EMP Commissions had previously concluded in the last decade. These fears of former Director of Central Intelligence, Ambassador R. James Woolsey, echoed in a particularly passionate brief at the event.

Recent news is that both North Korea and Pakistan have sought help in developing EMP weapons; and we know Iran has launched its missile tests in an EMP mode.

Such threats could be launched from a missile at sea some hundreds of kilometers off of our coasts as well as from intercontinental distances. Such maritime threats—largely surreptitious—would be difficult to deter, as in all likelihood the adversary would be unidentifiable.

The U.S. could, however, for a modest additional expense, begin to protect the country from such maritime EMP and nuclear threats through the production of additional short and medium missile defense radars and interceptors, now available and in the US inventory. Upgrades in the future would probably be required as the threat worsened. But we could begin work now.

This could be part of a new phased East Coast missile defense site or system. Other threats, such as long range missiles from the Middle East, could be dealt with through the deployment on the East Coast of an advanced version of the current West Coast deployments, or a variant of the current sea-based BMD systems, including better sensors and kill vehicles or the final element of an interceptor that actually crashes into the incoming warhead.

Whether traditional nuclear or EMP nuclear threats, missiles have become the military technology of choice of both terror master nations and their terror group affiliates. Such threats may not be subject to the traditional notions of deterrence developed during the half century of the Cold War. Hamas, for example, late last year, launched more rockets on Israel than Nazi Germany launched in all of World War II. Israel defended itself with the deployment of the Iron Dome missile defense system, which was developed and put into place within just three years.

In short, real threats need real defenses. The “hope” of deterrence is not enough.

Can we build better defenses? Of course we can.

In Israel, the military made upgrades to the Iron Dome defense system even as it was engaging enemy rockets. Upwards of 85-90% of all targeted Hamas rockets were intercepted. Contrary to the same academic “experts” often cited by the New York Times, this missile defense system worked and worked very well. The intercepts were meticulously recorded and verified. When told of the key basis for the critics’ conclusion that Iron Dome hit only 15% of the targets—private cell phone pictures—a coterie of Pentagon civilian and military experts burst out laughing.

The US is now in partnership with Jerusalem to produce more Iron Dome batteries.

We should take our inspiration from Israel.

To defend the homeland and build better missile defenses simply follows our constitutional requirement to “provide for the common defense.”

Reagan’s Missile Defense Vision Derailed

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

If you went strictly by the mainstream media reporting on the Defense Department’s recent announcement about missile defense, the thought in your head would be “we’re deploying more interceptor missiles because of North Korea.”

What’s probably not in your head is the auxiliary details.  DOD has requested that funding for the additional deployments begin in fiscal year 2014.  The actual deployments won’t start until after that.  Assuming DOD gets the funding, it will take until 2017 for the interceptors to be in place.  And the deployment, if it happens, will do no more than provide the ground-based interceptor baseline that was originally planned by the Bush II administration (44 interceptors), a baseline the Obama administration cut back to its current level (30 interceptors) in April 2009.

To put the last point another way: if the Obama DOD hadn’t cancelled the remaining ground-based interceptor (GBI) deployments in 2009, the 14 additional interceptors would already be deployed.

That said, the utility of deploying the additional GBIs – which would raise the deployed total from 30 to 44 – can justifiably be questioned, if former Secretary Bob Gates was right in 2009, when he said the 30 GBIs in Alaska and California were enough:

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates told senators that 30 ground-based interceptors “provide a strong defense” against “the level of [missile] capability that North Korea has now and is likely to have for some years to come.” The system is designed to defend the United States against intermediate- and long-range missiles in the middle range of flight.

The North Korean satellite launch in December 2012 didn’t change the profile of the North Korean threat; it merely validated the predicted type of threat against which the GBIs were originally deployed.  Frankly, the 30 GBIs we already have in their silos probably are enough.

They are if the threat we’re worried about is North Korea, at any rate.  What if it’s not?  Suppose the threat we’re really concerned about is China?  It’s an interesting point, given the lack of precision or clearly-stated strategic purpose behind, basically, any move the Obama administration makes on missile defense.

Cancelling the Atlantic-side Missile defense

Consider the decision announced by DOD at the same time as the GBI augmentation: that the U.S. will cancel the fourth and final phase of Obama’s missile defense plan for Europe.  The European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) is the new plan Obama ordered up in 2009 when he cancelled George W. Bush’s plan to deploy GBIs to Europe.

GBIs in Poland would have provided missile defense for North America as well as for Europe against threats coming westward from Asia.  In Bush’s original plan, the GBIs would have started going into Poland in 2013.  (The GBIs in Alaska and California defend North America against threats coming eastward from Asia, or – to some extent – against missiles from East Asia coming over the North Pole).

Obama’s replacement plan for the cancelled Bush deployments was to develop a new, ground-based mobile interceptor out of the Navy’s shorter-range SM-3 missile, and eventually to deploy a follow-on interceptor, called the SM-3 IIB, which would have “some capability” against ICBMs.  The projected time frame for this deployment was to be 2020-22, some 7-9 years after the GBI deployment in Poland was to have begun.

A key weakness of this approach, however, has been that, for the purposes of defending North America, the geometry isn’t workable for using a new-generation SM-3 interceptor in Europe against an intercontinental ballistic missile from South Asia or the Middle East.  In September 2012, the National Research Council published an assessment of the prospects for defending North America using the EPAA deployment concept, and concluded that the prospects aren’t good.  Obtaining the NRC report costs $62, but fortunately, Defense Industry Daily has summarized its findings as follows (scroll down at the link):

[The NRC assessment] states that EPAA Phase IV is not likely to be an effective way to defend the United States, and recommends that the USA make changes to its own GMD system and radar set. They’re not advocating the dismantling of EPAA, just saying that the USA should have a system in which EPAA is about Europe’s defense, and the USA has a system that doesn’t depend on it.

More on that in a moment.

Arrow 3 and US-Israel Defense Cooperation

Monday, March 4th, 2013

The cheering and the hugs exchanged by Israeli and American teams last week at Palmahim Air Force base, south of Tel Aviv, marked a historical turn of events.

For the first time ever, a successful test launch had been carried out of the Arrow 3 missile defense system, designed to stop Iranian long-range ballistic missiles – even those carrying nuclear warheads – in space.

The product of Israeli-American cooperation, and years of research and development led by the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), together with the U.S. Department of Defense’s Missile Defense Agency, the successful test represented a leap forward in missile defense technology, and a key development in the ongoing Israeli-Iranian arms race.

Travelling at twice the speed of a tank shell, the Arrow 3 interceptor is carried into space by a missile, which then falls away. The interceptor is actually a space vehicle that carries out several swift maneuvers as it locks on to its target. It then lunges directly at the incoming projectile, for a head-on collision.

At speeds of up to 4000 meters (13,123 feet) per second, the interceptor relies only on its self-generated kinetic energy to destroy the hostile missile, and does not require its own explosives to get the job done.

The successful trial underscores the fact that despite significant political differences that exist between Jerusalem and Washington, defense cooperation between the two countries is today at an unprecedented level.

The first batch of four Arrow 3 batteries is expected to come into service between 2014 and 2016. Four additional upgraded batteries, carrying more interceptors, could be built later.

Israeli and American companies are working together to get the Arrow 3 operational. The technological breakthroughs that allowed for the Arrow 3 to be tested have been led by IAI, but collaboration with Boeing has been significant.

Iran is amassing hundreds of missiles capable of striking Israel, while taking steps forward in its nuclear program. As the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv has recently noted, Iran has Shihab 3 missiles that put all of Israel in range, as well as the Ghadr-1, which is an upgraded version of the Shihab 3.

Tehran is also developing the Sajjil-2, a two-stage solid fuel missile that can strike targets 2,000 kilometers away. Any of these missiles can be fitted to carry unconventional warheads.

To cope with this ballistic missile challenge, as well as the threat posed by Syrian scuds, some of which have reached Hezbollah, Israel has the Arrow 2 missile defense system in place, which shoots down incoming projectiles in the upper atmosphere.

Once it becomes operational, the Arrow 3 will form another layer of defense over millions of Israelis, thereby giving the Israel Air Force two to three shots at intercepting incoming missile.

“We are in arms race. We hope to be one step ahead, technologically,” said defense source well acquainted with the Arrow 3 program.

As part of the race to protect its civilians, Israel has set up the Iron Dome rocket protection system, which intercepted over 90 percent of rockets from Gaza during last year’s conflict with Hamas .

Other projects under development include the David’s Sling system, designed to stop intermediate rockets and missiles, which are a part of Hezbollah’s arsenal of more than 60,000 rockets.

Despite the progress being made in this field, Israel can never rely solely on defense for its national security. In an unstable region filled with radical non-state actors, collapsing states, and an Iran marching towards nuclear weapons capabilities, defense can only form one part of the plan to keep Israel safe.

The other part involves devastating offensive capabilities, designed to surprise adversaries and throw them off balance, bringing any conflict to a swift conclusion.

Originally published at the Gatestone Institute, under the title, “U.S. Helping Israel’s Defense.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/arrow-3-and-us-israel-defense-cooperation/2013/03/04/

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