> > Mark:
> > If, however, you are making an oblique reference to the fall of nukes,
> > well, what good would it do to ask for US assistance?  The damage would
> > already be done.  And the US couldn't stop the missiles in any case.
NMD
> > will not work and will not be built.
> >
> > Dan:
> > Actually, it would work, (has in multiple tests),
>
> Marc:
> Tests that would not pass scientific scrutiny, because the criteria were
> defined
> ex post facto. Put into plain English, the tests failed miserably and the
> Pentagon went into full spin control. Not a single test missile fired
from
> Kwajalein has ever hit a target when decoys were present. So the Pentagon
> simply
> took that requirement out of its criteria, and, bingo! Success!
>
> Dan:
> I think that you might be relying on old information about the use of
> decoys during testing.
>
> http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2002_04/testapril02.asp
>

Marc:
Did you actually read this? While it's true that it's more up to date than
the information I had (see below), I see they're still using balloons, not
real decoys, and they still haven't developed the close-range tracking
technology necessary but are relying on shock waves, which isn't part of
the design criteria.

"n the closing seconds before an intercept, the EKV relies on its infrared
sensors, as well as preprogrammed information on the objects it is expected
to see, to select the right target. Some critics object that the Pentagon
is
unlikely to have as much information on future enemy warheads and decoys as
it does with its own test elements, but Pentagon officials defend the use
of
preprogrammed information, explaining that they hope to have such
information in a future, real-world situation.

"Trying to deflect any criticism of the Pentagon's approach, Deputy
Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz told CNN a day after the test that,
"before some critic discovers it, this was not a realistic test," adding
that the decoys were "not as good a decoy as we would expect to face
later." Wolfowitz stressed that the system is only a development program at
this time."

So even the spinmeister admits he's spinning.

Dan:
Where on earth did you come up with that 'shock wave' bit? The EKV is using
infrared, and guides itself into the target from close range on it's own.
Sounds like the 'close-range' tracking is working fairly well. How are you
certain that these balloons that are being used are not _real_ decoys? Do
you even know how they are being used?
I did miss the quote, but I'll speculate on that a little later.

> Dan:
<...>
> Could you point out where you got the information that the test firings
> have been such abject failures?

Marc:
My latest information is as of 19/07/01. Sorry I have to quote the whole
article and can't just give a URL, but it's in the subscriber area of The
Economist:

Dan:
Oh goody, a clearly UNBIASED news article.

----
Missile tests

If at first you don't succeed...
Jul 19th 2001
>From The Economist print edition

"A timely hit in space has helped the Pentagon's case

THIS time, NOBODY COULD ACCUSE THE PENTAGON OF BUILDING UP UNREALISTIC
EXPECTATIONS. In the run-up to its fourth attempt to stop a long-range
ballistic missile as it hurtled through space on July 14th, the Defence
Department insisted again and again that it did not really matter much
whether the $100m experiment worked.

<..deleted comments about 'test failures'..>

In fact, the test went according to plan-OR SO THE PENTAGON, VERY
CAUTIOUSLY,
ASSERTS. First an intercontinental ballistic missile, carrying a mock
warhead, was launched from an air base north of Los Angeles.
Simultaneously, a decoy balloon was fired in a similar direction. Then,
about 20 minutes later and 5,000 miles away, an interceptor rocket carrying
a small "kill vehicle" was unleashed from the Kwajalein atoll in the
Marshall Islands; within eight minutes, the killer had detached itself,
figured out which
was the fake target and collided with the real one at more than 16,000
miles per hour.
----
Dan: This is flat incorrect. The decoy was deployed by the target itself
after boost. The speeds are pretty close though.
----
Pictures relayed to the Pentagon showed an impressive flash of light; there
was cheering in the control room. True to his low-key style, Donald
Rumsfeld, the defence secretary, followed proceedings from home for the
reason-his spokeswoman said-that it was "just a test".

Should American taxpayers be concerned, then, that not enough risks are
being
taken or envelopes pushed? In one sense, yes. The target was cone-shaped,
whereas the decoy was round, and there was only one of them. In real life,
there might be lots of decoys, and they would be identical in shape to the
real target.
----
Dan:
This is an interesting tidbit. Why would the _shape_ of the decoy matter to
a non-visual sensor? And it is _extremely_ unlikely that the decoys would
be 'identical in shape to the real target' since that would require them to
be the same size - and size and weight really count in rocketry. The only
purpose for a decoy is confuse the interceptor - the only reason you would
need an identical shape would be for a purely visual sensor - which the EKV
is not using.
----
But politically, of course, it was a pleasure to hit the target,
particularly at a time when doubts about the whole idea of sharply
increased spending on missile defences are growing among Democrats. The two
tests last year were both embarrassing failures. The first one, in October
1999, appeared to be successful but was later pronounced a partial failure
after it turned out that the interceptor at first homed in on the decoy,
not the real target. This time the Pentagon is stressing that it will take
several weeks to analyse the data from the test and see whether everything
really worked.

In any case, the promotion of a "culture of failure" has a purpose which
goes far beyond this month's experiment. Mr Rumsfeld has given notice of a
sharp
acceleration in the pace of testing, designed to create, as quickly as
possible, an anti-missile defence system consisting of three "layers"-in
other words, with the ability to hit missiles during their ascent, at their
mid-point, and on their way down. In 2002 alone there will be ten tests,
and the number could rise if there are any setbacks. Experimental
interceptor silos will be built at two sites in Alaska.

Philip Coyle, who supervised the Pentagon's testing programme until a few
months ago, but has since joined a left-wing lobby group, the Centre for
Defence Information, believes that his ERSTWHILE MASTERS should at least be
given credit for consistency. "If they are serious about acquiring layered
anti-missile defences as soon as possible, they are doing the right thing,"
he says. By his calculation, each layer will take up to 24 "developmental"
tests (IN OTHER WORDS, TESTS IN WHICH THE CONDITIONS ARE RIGGED TO BE MORE
BENIGN); only then can operational tests, designed to reproduce real-life
conditions, begin.

<..deleted discussion of possible deployment dates..>

Dan:
Interesting that he would quote Mr. Coyle. I wonder why he quit? Did Mr.
Coyle approach the author of this article with this information, or did the
author seek him out for input? Why didn't he speak with the program office
to get their side of it? Could it be that he had no real interest in the
program, but merely wanted to whitewash the successful test with negative
spin of his own?

Dan:
> I detect some major spin here - based on
> personal knowledge, not relying on my "right-wing" news sources.

Marc:
The spin, as the article clearly points out, has consistently been on the
part of the Pentagon.

Dan:
Marc, the other day you criticized me for using a biased news source that
fell beneath your expectations for 'accurate' reporting. Yet you seem to
base part of your criticism of a very complex weapons program on this very
biased, factually incorrect article where the author couldn't even be
bothered to check his facts, or seek a response from the Pentagon about his
criticisms. A truthful reporter would have at least mentioned such an
attempt.

I can't speak to Mr. Wolfowitz' comments other than to say that they appear
to be the typical knee-jerk reaction of someone who is supposed to know
what he's talking about, but doesn't. This is fairly common in bureaucrats.

So is NMD possible? All of the testing says that it is, although we are not
quite there yet. Are we putting "artificial realities" into these tests?
Yes, as is typical of development programs where you want more than just
simplistic data. Many of these programs are testing specific portions of
the concept while waiting for the development of previously identified
systems that would be part of a final system.
For a knowledgeable person to look at a complex development program and
insist that the test plan would not pass scientific scrutiny because it
doesn't include operational level testing is very deceitful, at best.

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