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The current state of the art in space defense

13 comments to The current state of the art in space defense

  • HELaserGuy

    Dale, I’m most interested but I have to ask: can you source an audio file for this since there is no video of the slides referenced? I can see they’re not really relevant at 10 minutes in. It’s 2.30am here and I can’t sit in front of this machine for much more. An MP3 player and a comfortable bed makes for a better environment!

    Thanks. :-)

  • HELaserGuy

    Dale, apologies: I’m 16m into this and now I’m seeing more than a high-ranking guy in front of a curtain! THe various intercepts are quite awesome! It’s all good now! ;-)

  • HELaserGuy

    Having watched this, I think the major and most controversial issue outside of the defense industry is that of M.D. in relation to M.A.D. It’s not a new issue, admittedly.

    Do such systems alter the apparent fine-tuned balance? Does it matter? Is that balance even existent?

    I would like to hear opinions…

  • AST

    Ironically, MAD only applies to rational enemies like the Soviets and assuring them that they could not attack us without destroying our ability to counterstrike massively.

    With the North Koreans and various Islamist terrorist groups including Iran we can’t count on our enemies being rational or caring for their own lives, let alone the lives of their people.

    When SDI was first discussed I remember scientific experts saying it wasn’t possible, because it would be like hitting a bullet with a bullet. But they weren’t taking Moore’s law into account.

    The funny thing is that a lot of the same people are now assuring us that computer models can predict the behavior of the climate over the next century.

  • Vercingetorix

    MAD is inexorably tied to two other stratagems: Massive Retaliation and First Strike. MAD falls apart if you do not have either.

    It was our policy in the Cold War – if the Warsaw Pact invaded a NATO country – that we would defeat the Soviet numerical advantage with nuclear strikes (man portable to destroy logistical centers/highways, etc, and tactical nukes to destroy armor concentrations). That meant that any conventional conflict would escalate immediately to nuclear war. That kept the Soviets (and us) in our respective boxes.

    With Iran and North Korea, there is no First Strike doctrine because the smart bomb has replaced the atom bomb in defining our world.

    It is exceedingly unlikely, even if we do lose a whole city, that we would destroy a rogue state. Especially if it was – or claimed to be – a rogue strike. Time would pass while we investigate, tempers would cool, and it would be a cold-blooded reprisal, which is not likely. We would probably launch a a conventional war.

    It is likely that MAD is quite dead.

  • bc

    I agree that MAD is dead. If NY burns, we will have no choice but to impose our rule on a lot of people, and not
    “Iraq style” imposition, think more “Ghengis Khan” style imposition.

  • Slartibartfast

    I remember scientific experts saying it wasn’t possible, because it would be like hitting a bullet with a bullet. But they weren’t taking Moore’s law into account.

    The experts, whoever they were, were wrong. They’ve left a skidmark on the discussion. Missile defense has never, ever been anything like hitting a bullet with a bullet, because in that scenario, both interceptor and target are ballistic, neglecting aero forces. In a missile defense engagement, at least one of the objects (the interceptor) is highly nonballistic.

    The bullet-hitting-a-bullet thing has always been a pet peeve of mine.

  • R. G. Newbury

    Thanks for posting that. *Very* interesting, and it is now clear that the US will be able to complete this endeavour. The satellite hit will silence a lot of nay-sayers.

    I was also intrigued by the comments on progress on the airborne laser, which, like putting a man on the moon, has always been theoretically possible, but practically quite difficult. Like hitting a bullet with another bullet!

    On another note: exactly HOW was this video made? I presume you had a videocam set up, but how was it massaged and handled for posting? (The short version will do!)

  • Slartibartfast

    That bit he said about changes being not compatible with missile defense: I cry bullshit. Not _currently_ compatible, perhaps, because you’ve changed software in a way that’s not switchable, but being that it’s software changes, you can select what sort of mission it is you want to run.

    I think that was a statement of political expediency rather than one of truth.

    I think it’s just great that some of the flavor of how these tests are conducted is now making it into the public view. I spent most of the 1990s working as technical adviser to the project office, and there was a ton of independent review of the test data. I personally was able to view THAAD test data that showed conclusively that the interceptor telemetry came to a sudden halt at the same time the target telemetry did, as well as data that indicated point of first contact between the interceptor and the target, data that allowed us to reconstruct the trajectory of the interceptor and target bodies as they passed through each other, and finally, video data from multiple sources and aspects that showed the two objects colliding, including a homemade, high framerate imaging spectrometer. Frequently I was one of the first people to see telemetry, so any coverup effort would have had to be both insanely well-coordinated and insanely secretive.

    The notion I keep hearing floated that these tests are rigged is, therefore, something that just cracks me up.

    FWIW, in case anyone wants to know, the guy speaking is General Henry Obering.

  • Slartibartfast

    mda.mil has a video of the same thing, but the sound doesn’t work for me.

  • If you have a fast connection, just push the slider over to about halfway – thats where the launch videos start.

  • Dale Amon

    It’s official DOD footage and the embedded video player takes it directly from a DOD news feed site.

    Funny thing is, I am doing this blind because the player does *not* show up on my browser (it does show up when I am in the Samizdata admin page and do a preview though. Weird.

    As to the airborne laser… not only are they advancing with the Boeing 747 laser gunship for anti-missile duties… they are *also* advancing on a C-130 ground attack laser for anti-armor use and such.

  • Kevin B

    It is exceedingly unlikely, even if we do lose a whole city, that we would destroy a rogue state. Especially if it was – or claimed to be – a rogue strike. Time would pass while we investigate, tempers would cool, and it would be a cold-blooded reprisal, which is not likely. We would probably launch a a conventional war.

    Verc, I think that may be true for the US, but if I was an Arab sitting above my shop in Algiers watching Al Jaz and they showed a mushroom cloud rising over Paris, I think I’d be legging it out of town pretty quick.

    The French don’t have ‘force projection’, but they do have a few Trident subs with enough thermonuclear warheads to take out every Muslim city in the ME, (or possibly the world if they can range them).

    If the jihadis timed their strike to decapitate the government, I think there’s no chance of stopping a massive French retaliation.