Thursday, May 13, 2004

There's some new criticism of the Bush administration's missile defense system (which, as you may know, was the focus of a speech Condoleezza Rice planned to give on 9/11). This is from the Reuters story:

The multibillion-dollar U.S. ballistic missile shield due to start operating by Sept. 30 appears incapable of shooting down any incoming warheads, an independent scientists' group said on Thursday.

A technical analysis found "no basis for believing the system will have any capability to defend against a real attack," the Union of Concerned Scientists said in a 76-page report titled Technical Realities.

...The Missile Defense Agency "appears to be picking numbers out of thin air," the report said of past Pentagon assertions of a high probability of shooting down targets....

The Union of Concerned Scientists has more here. I haven't read the full text of the report, but I glanced at the executive summary and this critique of the missile tests jumped out:

... the endgame conditions have been unrealistic. Since the tests used a prototype two-stage interceptor, the closing speed between the kill vehicle and mock warhead was artificially low by as much as a factor of two. The defense used information from either a GPS receiver or a C-band beacon on the mock warhead to determine its position, and this was used to provide the kill vehicle with very accurate tracking data.

The new Pacific test bed, coupled with the new three-stage interceptor, will allow the MDA [Missile Defense Agency] to conduct tests under more realistic conditions. However, the test bed alone will not address the lack of realism in flight testing, nor is it needed to address the key realism issues: testing without a priori information, under unscripted conditions, and against realistic countermeasures. The MDA flight test program through September 2007 will not include countermeasures that the Pentagon’s director of operational testing and evaluation has identified as simple for the enemy to implement. In fact, the MDA has no current plans to conduct tests under unscripted conditions, nor is it clear that such operationally realistic testing will ever be conducted.

Sounds pretty fraudulent to me.

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