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December 29, 2014 / 7 Tevet, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘missile 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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