The Pentagon's Star Wars missile defense shield program a flop

Discussion in 'Americas' started by Rashna, Apr 21, 2015.

  1. Rashna

    Rashna Senior Member Senior Member

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    The Pentagon's drive to field a workable missile defense shield has produced a $10 billion flop


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    Since the Reagan Administration, the Department of Defense has attempted to develop a system to intercept long-range missile attacks on the United States. From its inception, the US missile defense program — first nicknamed “Star Wars” — has seen the Pentagon throw millions of taxpayer dollars at the problem without achieving the promised results.

    In a new Los Angeles Times investigation into the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency, David Willman reveals that post-9/11 missile defense programs have largely failed to deliver on their strategic promises. And the program has wasted $10 billion in taxpayer dollars along the way.

    Willman’s investigation focuses in part on a program called Sea-Based X-Band Radar, or SBX, which appears as a giant white dome mounted on a converted offshore drilling platform.

    “It stands about 26 stories high and it’s about 400 feet in the water — longer than a football field,” Willman says.

    “The original vision for it, as stated by leaders of the Pentagon to members of Congress, was that the SBX radar would be based up in the Aleutian Islands at a specific port," he adds. "In fact, some $27 million was spent just to prepare its special berth up there. [But] it was never ported there for a single day, despite the promises that it would be up and running there as of late 2005. It has never fulfilled its original promise to be part of the everyday missile defense capability of the United States.”

    Though SBX does technically work, its inability to read large areas of airspace rapidly render it non-functional for guiding missile interceptors.

    "If there was only one missile coming, and if the SBX was somehow fortunate enough to be focused on the spot on the horizon where it was coming from, or if it was cued to that spot, it would have a chance to do the job," says Willman. "[But] because of its narrow field of vision, if you had even a rather crude volley of four, six, or eight missiles spaced by a few minutes apart, it would be highly impractical for SBX to do the job."

    Ultimately, SBX was never put into use at its planned homeport in Alaska, and cost taxpayers and the Defense Department $2.2 billion.

    Willman’s investigation also reveals that the “Airborne Laser” — a fleet of Boeing 747s with lasers mounted on their noses — cost the agency $5.3 billion. That program was later scrapped because of the laser’s limited range. Additionally, several other costly interceptor programs were also scrapped.

    According to Willman, the groundwork for these programs was laid in the 1990s, when a commission headed by Donald Rumsfeld — who was Defense Secretary under President Gerald Ford and would resume the post under President George W. Bush — produced a report that criticized the Clinton Administration’s policy to rigorously test missile defense systems before deployment.

    “The Rumsfeld Commission's report came out in 1998 and said that countries such as North Korea, Iran, Iraq — you name it — that they could obtain a long-range missile delivery capability within five years of deciding to do so,” Willman says. "The same Rumsfeld Commission said that various countries — including North Korea, Iran, Iraq — were trying to develop nuclear weapons capability. That provided a lot of impetus. Then the final propulsion mechanism, if you will, was Sept. 11."


    He adds: "It was the climate coming out of 9/11 that really helped get this over the goal line.”

    There has been, however, dissent among the military establishment about the Pentagon’s missile defense spending.

    “Very powerful, well-positioned members of Congress fought doggedly to extend these highly troubled programs even when [Lt. Gen. Patrick J. O’Reilly, a former head of the missile defense agency] and others tried to point out their problems,” Willman says.

    “Even then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who had served in the same capacity under President George W. Bush, testified before Congress that the airborne laser was essentially a pipe dream,” he adds.

    The Pentagon's drive to field a workable missile defense shield has produced a $10 billion flop | Public Radio International
     
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  3. SajeevJino

    SajeevJino Long walk Elite Member

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    I think the YAL laser was inactive for couple of Months, If my sources where correct

    and Arming the space was started way back in 2012's, and I sure US already have placed those Airborne Lasers in Orbital vehicles
     
  4. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

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    This part makes sense. It is very difficult to scan a 3D space and guarantee detection of a projectile - even with a large field of view. Waste of resources is part of research, and kudos for the effort. There has to be someone to do something to discover ways things won't work. The amount of money spent, in this case, would be a bit difficult to justify. Was there a way to predict the chances of success of this project early on? Probably.

    Indeed. Such government funded programmes to "protect" the people from "aggression" from "enemies," real, imagined, or contrived, always bring contracts, jobs, and revenue to constituencies, and thus, powerful people would rather have the gravy train flowing as long as it guaranteed job security in his constituency. From a philosophical level, this isn't very different from India not hiking the train fares in India for eight long years.
     
  5. Rashna

    Rashna Senior Member Senior Member

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    Maybe the US feels it is spending its taxpayers money wisely?
    In a way we in India have to thank others for allowing us the luxury of adopting foolproof tested technology because we surely don't have the spare money to pour in to research.

    This article link below gives a better understanding of the topic.


    http://graphics.latimes.com/missile-defense/


     
  6. power_monger

    power_monger Regular Member

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    you cant control world with loosers attitude. America tries and tries.It fails sometimes and succeeds sometimes. This is just one failure.
     
  7. Khagesh

    Khagesh Regular Member

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    Its not about the loser attitude. Its not like these failures could not have been foreseen. That inability to foresee in a blind chase of what they thought was good is the real issue. This is exactly the attitude these Americans carry elsewhere on other matters too.

    For example those laser weapons. I will not be surprised if it turns out that Americans have installed lasers in the space. Not one bit. Perfectly capable of such idiocy. And I bet there would already be systems/research in the works to blast the holy crap out of it.

    Using what? Using lasers.

    There are always always smarter ways of doing things. You throw peanuts, you get monkeys but if you throw money you still get what gets attracted by money.

    And smart ideas do not wait for money. Smart ideas do not get attracted towards money.

    I had read somewhere that in intel people are always categorized as those amenable to money and those amenable to an ideology. And off course there is a different bet and a different kind of bet, placed on both kinds by their handlers.
     

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