Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Not defending the US

Shooting Down Missile Defense
By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY Posted Tuesday, April 07, 2009 4:20 PM PT

Defense: Overlooked in the defense budget cuts is the decimation of missile defense systems. As North Korea tested an ICBM, our defense secretary was scrapping a system that could have destroyed it with a single shot.

We will miss the F-22 Raptor, perhaps the only plane that could evade the sophisticated S-300 surface-to-air missile defense system Russia is selling to Iran.
Russia's S-300 system is "one of the most lethal, if not the most lethal, all-altitude area defense" systems, according to the International Strategy and Assessment Service, a Virginia-based think tank.
But the aircraft we and the nation will miss the most is the Airborne Laser (ABL) program, killed in Gates' general slashing of missile defense, cuts which will reduce the budget of the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) by $1.4 billion in 2010, or about 15%. Gates proposes turning the ABL into a research program.
The YAL-1A, a modified Boeing 747-400F equipped with a megawatt-class, high-energy Chemical Oxygen Iodine Laser (COIL) is designed to destroy ballistic missiles in their very vulnerable boost phase, missiles such as Iran's Shahab series and North Korea's Taepodong series.
According to the MDA, the ABL provides a unique capability "to detect, track, and destroy ballistic missiles shortly after launch during the boost phase. Its revolutionary use of directed energy makes it unique among the United States' airborne weapons systems, with a potential to attack multiple targets at the speed of light with a range of several hundred kilometers."
Gen. B.B. Bell, the former commander of the U.S. Forces Korea, wrote in 2007 that "from a war fighter's perspective, the ABL will be an important ingredient in our much needed and required layered missile defense capability for the Korean Peninsula."
It would also be part of a layered defense for the U.S. But not any more.
A layered defense against ballistic missiles was what President Ronald Reagan had in mind when he launched the Strategic Defense Initiative in 1983. It would include space-based, sea- and land-based defenses as well as mobile theatre systems such as THAAD (Theatre High Altitude Area Defense), Patriot missiles and the airborne laser.
Such a layered system could deal with all threats from all sources.
Unlike its fixed-site cousins, the ground-based interceptors deployed in California and Alaska and (hopefully) Europe, ABL aircraft can be deployed where needed and are reusable.
Imagine them patrolling the Persian Gulf or the Taiwan Strait, or off the Korean Peninsula.
Not only can they patrol off unfriendly nations, they could patrol our shores, too.
We have pointed out the dangers of an Iranian freighter launching a Shahab that would detonate its warhead high over the U.S., unleashing an electromagnetic pulse that would send our high-tech economy back to the days of covered wagons.
ABL aircraft would patrol in pairs at 40,000 feet, flying in orbits over friendly airspace or international waters, scanning the horizon for plumes of rising missiles. The ABL would acquire and track the missile with a tracking laser, while computers calculate the distance to and trajectory of the target.
Gates has also put on hold additional ground-based interceptors based at Ft. Greeley in Alaska.
Also targeted for elimination by Gates is the Multiple Kill Vehicle.
A single interceptor equipped with this payload of multiple kinetic missile killers, will not only destroy the re-entry vehicle, but all credible threat objects including countermeasures the enemy deploys to try and spoof our defenses.
Six Senators, Republicans Murkowski, Sessions, Inhofe, and Kyl as well as Democrats Lieberman and Begich, have written a letter to President Obama calling on him to restore Gates' cuts, noting that "our adversaries continue to invest large sums in the development" of offensive missiles of all types.
While Gates does provide additional support for theatre defenses such as Aegis and THAAD, it is a minimalist approach in a world in which our enemies are turning out missiles like sausages, and only a single warhead can end life in the United States as we know it.

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