Dan R Allen wrote:

> > Dan:
> > Where on earth did you come up with that 'shock wave' bit?
> Marc:
> My word, not the article's. You don't need the missile to hit the incoming
> vehicle, you only need to create a shock wave sufficient to
> destroy/disable/deflect it, as the "3D hierarchy" puts it.
> Dan:
> Didn't think I saw anything like that in there,

You didn't. As I said, this is from my understanding of the technology involved,
which has come from other sources than the two articles we both cited.

> and you may be right that
> you don't need a direct hit to disable a vehicle, but the test in question
> wasn't configured this way. It was configured as a 'hit-to-kill' test, and
> succeeded; the target _was_ destroyed.

It's not hard to destroy a balloon with a shock wave. Even a bit of shrapnel
would puncture it.

> > The EKV is using
> > infrared, and guides itself into the target from close range on it's own.
> Marc:
> "Close." That's what I said. But how do you get from "close" to "bull's
> eye"?
> Shock wave. See above.
> Dan:
> The EKV _did_ hit the target vehicle; directly, no need for any 'shockwave'
> excuse. I believe that you're thinking about the earlier failure that the
> program had. This test was the repeat of the earlier one - this one
> succeeded where the earlier did not. IIRC, the earlier test failed due to
> the loss of a sensor, the KV could not compensate in time and so did not
> actually hit the target.
> > Sounds like the 'close-range' tracking is working fairly well. How are
> you
> Marc:
> No. The article specifically said it wasn't. It also said that even in
> *theory*
> it would only worked if the Pentagon had 3rd party information. The article
> doesn't say where that would come from, but it's basically from telemetry
> information and knowledge (obtained through intelligence sources) as to
> what kind
> of missiles are likely to be fired from any given site and the
> characteristics of
> those missiles. If you don't have that int, even a working close-range
> system
> won't work.
> Dan:
> Again, I think you're thinking about the earlier test (Don't remember when
> that was specifically, sorry.)

I was quoting from the article you posted, actually.

> The article from the armscontrol website specifically said "struck and
> destroyed the target". This was for a test in March of this year. Your
> article from the Economist said: "collided with the real one [target]" this
> test was carried out in July of 2001.
> In both cases, the target was destroyed.
> We already have very good data on what type of rockets would be used;
> missile tests are watched very closely by all countries that have that
> capability; the US is only one of many. The amount of intel necessary to
> effectively take out a weapon depends on what phase of the missile flight
> you're going to focus on. I agree that trying to take out multiple
> warheads, after a MIRV has deployed would be very difficult; not so at
> mid-course, or boost phase. The mid-course testing has been very
> successful.
> > Dan:
> > certain that these balloons that are being used are not _real_ decoys?
> Marc:
> Balloons don't annoy people. Only gasbags do.... ;-)
> Seriously, as the article *also* pointed out, "real" decoys are
> cone-shaped, not
> balloon-shaped. Balloons are used in very preliminary testing because you
> need
> something that's 1) airborne; 2) stays put, more or less, during the test;
> 3) is
> cheap; and 4) is large. That's why they're using balloons at this point.
> But it's
> not what real MIRVs use as decoys, they use cone-shaped devices (if they
> didn't,
> they would quickly separate from and isolate the real warhead because of
> the
> different aerodynamic characteristics of spherical objects like balloons).
> Dan:
> And as I pointed out "real" decoys do not _need_ to be cone-shaped; only if
> you're trying to fool a visual-only based system. A sensor system based on
> IR or radionic output would care less if a possible target was shaped like
> a cone or not; only that it had a specific 'heat' or radiation signature.
> And in any case, we're talking about two different things here.

It's not the visual aspects that are the issue, but the aerodynamical ones, and
balloons behave differently than cones.

> Marc:
> Thanks for updating me, by the way -- I really appreciated this. Am also
> happy to
> explain your own evidence to you. Bonus, dude! ;-)
> Dan:
> I'm not really sure that you understood the information presented. I think
> the confusion lies in where the test is taking place; we're in mid-course -
> after the boost phase, but _before_ MIRV acquires it's ground targets.
> We're targeting the MIRV itself, not the individual warheads. Balloons do
> work in this phase because aerodynamics are not an issue. The intercept
> takes place "exoatmospheric". The intent here is to mask the MIRV while it
> waits for the target to rotate into position underneath it.

I didn't get that in either article -- I saw all the references to decoys and
assumed that the MIRV had already released its payload. You don't have to wait to
get to exoatmospheric levels to establish a good trajectory. The first few
minutes are the critical ones, and it's at that point that you need this 3rd
party information asap.

> > Do
> > you even know how they are being used?
> > I did miss the quote, but I'll speculate on that a little later.
> >
> Marc:
> Don't understand your question. These are supposed to be part of a "missile
> umbrella" against the long-distance launch from rogue states (or Texas,
> too, I
> suppose, although Louisiana is the roguishist state I know of...). I don't
> think
> they're worried about Iraqi clowns selling contaminated circus souvenirs.
> Dan:
> You answered my question: you were confused about how they were being used.
> The keyword here is "exoatmospheric". My question came from the statement
> from the article you referenced that stated decoys must be identical in
> shape to the target. That's only true if you're relying on a purely visual
> recognition system. The EKV is not.

I realized that -- it works on infrared. But it still has to distinguish between
a valid target and decoys.

> >
> > > 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.
> >
> Marc:
> Let me guess: you think this is biased. Rather than just imply that
> sarcastically, would it be too much to expect you to explain *why* you
> think it's
> biased?
> Dan:
> It _is_ biased. I attempted to show where the bias is with the ALL CAPS
> parts, but I guess it didn't work, sorry.

No, it didn't work. I didn't see that as bias at all.

Marc A. Schindler
Spruce Grove, Alberta, Canada -- Gateway to the Boreal Parkland

"The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and
falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark."
--Michelangelo Buonarroti

Note: This communication represents the informal personal views of the author
solely; its contents do not necessarily reflect those of the authorís employer,
nor those of any organization with which the author may be associated.

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