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US Missile Defense Test Fails

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the bullet-with-a-bullet dept.

The Military 317

KingRobot sends news that a recent test of a US missile defense system has failed. The test of the Groundbased Midcourse Defense interceptor apparently had a problem with the sea-based X-band radar. Both the target missile, launched from the Pacific, and the interceptor, launched from California, performed as expected. "Yesterday's test was intended to quell doubters of the entire missile-defense approach, with the target missile deploying countermeasures. Critics of the GMD programme say that tests thus far, which have not included such spoilers, have been too kind to the intercept tech. The [military] isn't disclosing whether the intercepting kill vehicle had simply failed to reach the 'threat cluster' of warhead(s) and decoys, or whether it had reached the cluster but hit a countermeasure rather than the actual target."

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Anonymous Coward (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30994020)

Fire Zee Mizzilez!!!!

Re:Anonymous Coward (3, Funny)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 4 years ago | (#30994130)

But I am le tired...

Re:Anonymous Coward (3, Funny)

QBasicer (781745) | more than 4 years ago | (#30994998)

Well then have a nap, THEN FIRE ZE MIZZILEZ!

(for those terribly confused: http://www.albinoblacksheep.com/flash/end [albinoblacksheep.com] )

Re:Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30994640)

It's a trap!

"fails" (3, Insightful)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 4 years ago | (#30994034)

"Now Commander, that torpedo did NOT self-destruct. You heard it hit the hull, and I was never here."

Sure it failed.

Re:"fails" (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#30994534)

"Now Commander, that torpedo did NOT self-destruct. You heard it hit the hull, and I was never here."

Another example of the movie sucking ass compared to the book.....

Re:"fails" (1)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995290)

...
Wow, I really need to read the book then

Money (1, Insightful)

Chris Lawrence (1733598) | more than 4 years ago | (#30994062)

Maybe if the US stopped wasting money on boondoggles like this, they wouldn't have had to cancel plans to return to the Moon.

Re:Money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30994078)

Right, because taking out missiles before they reach us isnt important. While visiting a giant rock in space is beneficial.

Re:Money (2, Insightful)

ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) | more than 4 years ago | (#30994212)

Well, if the missile defense system *doesn't work*, then the benefits of "visiting giant rocks in space" will clearly outweigh it (and yes, there are benefits, if not necessarily for the Moon in particular, no matter how pithily you dismiss them).

Re:Money (1)

Rasperin (1034758) | more than 4 years ago | (#30994558)

*Whoosh* I know

But I have to say, people actually expect the government to predict the future. They purchased a missile defense system thinking that it would work, hoping, expecting, and they would not know the difference till it was built. Well now it's built and it's going to be considered a giant waste of government spending. It's not, and it will sadden me when FOX tries to push the blame of this on Obama. ... ... Not saying I'm in favor or against him, I'm kinda mid-line. Oh and for you "big government bad, private corp good" (which I'm in line with the former part, not so much the latter); the private sector does this all the time, release a product that doesn't work to expectation. Kinda like Vista, ME, and FBSD 6 stating it would support more mobile devices.

Re:Money (2, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#30994566)

Well, if the missile defense system *doesn't work*

To quote Jean-Luc, "Things are only impossible until they are not."

The only real question is whether or not protecting our cities from madmen in Tehran or Pyongyang is a worthwhile investment. I tend to think that it is. Do you really want to live in a world where the United States is held hostage to nuclear blackmail and our only choice if they murder millions of our citizens is to respond in kind?

Re:Money (0, Troll)

WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) | more than 4 years ago | (#30994786)

Those madmen wouldn't ever do anything, it doesn't matter if we have missile defense tech or not.

Re:Money (2, Insightful)

secondhand_Buddah (906643) | more than 4 years ago | (#30994876)

Honestly, do you really think that in a time of peace (and probably even at war) someone in charge of running a country would be foolish enough to authorize a nuclear missile strike against another sovereign country? I'm afraid you have bought the hyped up bullshit from the military industrial complex lock, stock and barrel.
As poorly as these leaders are portrayed through the use of propaganda, please bear in mind that they are the leaders of their nations (regardless of whether you like them or not). They are not fools, and definitely not mad men.

Re:Money (2, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995042)

Honestly, do you really think that in a time of peace (and probably even at war) someone in charge of running a country would be foolish enough to authorize a nuclear missile strike against another sovereign country?

Yes, I do. Is there some rule that says nation-states always make rational decisions? History suggests that they don't. Japan went to war with a nation that had twice her population and almost six times her GDP. Germany went to war with virtually the entire world -- she was fighting twenty times her population and nearly five times her GDP by the end of 1941.

Any logical observer could have predicted the outcome of those choices. Indeed, many people in the defense establishments of both countries warned what the result would be -- but the leadership pressed ahead anyway. Millions of people on both sides died as a result. The only difference between then and now is that it would take a lot less time to run up the body count with modern technology.

It doesn't strike me as wise foreign policy to trust that our enemies will make a rational decision. Not when millions of people will die if they don't. Having a missile defense gives the President a second option. What would you rather see, the geopolitical fall out from a warhead that was shot down over the Pacific or the geopolitical fall out from the warhead that wiped out Honolulu or San Francisco?

Re:Money (0, Troll)

secondhand_Buddah (906643) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995228)

American Companies were supplying the Nazis throughout the war. America had ample forewarning about Pearl harbor and could have prevented it. America also lied about the attacks on the ships that started the Vietnam war. As for Japan - they were already finished by the time USA dropped the bombs. Everyone on the inside knew that, but the USA went ahead and murdered countless innocent civilians anyway.
So who's the real pig in the fairy tale with mad men running the show here?

Re:Money (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995284)

None of that, even if true (the Pearl Harbor bit is blatantly flase) has any bearing on my point that nation-states do not always make rational decisions.

Nice attempt at changing the topic though. I'll consider that your concession of the previous point.

Re:Money (1, Troll)

mqduck (232646) | more than 4 years ago | (#30994910)

I don't want to live in a world where the US can threaten nuclear attack knowing that it can't be retaliated against.

Re:Money (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995118)

Since no defensive system will be 100% perfect and there are other delivery systems (cruise missiles, aircraft) for nuclear weapons, I'd say that you don't have to worry about that.....

Re:Money (4, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995280)

Funny but that world existed for about 20 years. The US pretty much could have nuked any nation on earth at will from 1945 until around the mid sixties.
The old Soviet Union had no effective to deliver a nuclear weapon to the continental US until the early to mid sixties.
The USSR could have hit Europe, Japan, and Alaska but odds are that maybe one or two bombers might hive gotten through to the US and the few ICBMs the USSR had would have been destroyed on the ground. That is one of the reasons that the USSR put missiles in Cuba so they could have a workable threat to the US.

Re:Money (2, Interesting)

TheTurtlesMoves (1442727) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995310)

Well, rather than spend huge amounts of money on a rocket delivery system. I will just put it in a ship and detonate the second it gets to port. Yes getting a nuke onto a US bound ship would be pretty easy, there is a *lot* of shipping. Doesn't even really need to be a nuke either, 20tons of high explosive at a port is going to have economic impacts.

Alternatively i will just find a dumb ass thats prepared to set his underwear or shoes on fire. Saves on getting a nuke too, or even working explosives.

Re:Money (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30994450)

Perhaps the more important question is assessing whether the future of warhead delivery is fancy ICBMs or cheap-ass panel vans.

ICBMs are cool as symbols of military/industrial/scientific might and are, for the moment, the last word in penetrating the borders of a hostile power; but they are tricky to build, extremely expensive, and (even if difficult to intercept) trackable back to their source.

They are pretty much exactly the weapon that you would expect as a culmination of the US/USSR "two nuclear superpowers staring at each other across well defined, and substantially closed, lines" period. In a period of relatively open trade, assorted third parties, and general proliferation, though, it isn't at all clear that you can expect the next warhead to come by ICBM, rather than by Fedex...

Even if it actually worked, a lot of this missile defence stuff reeks of wrinkly old guys shoving money at their contractor buddies in order to finally have the weapons systems that they wanted during the cold war.

Re:Money (1)

mangastudent (718064) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995012)

You ignore how ICBMs are political weapons in a way that "cheap-ass panel vans" aren't. There's a big difference in the posture of a nation that can deliver a nuke over one or more of your cities in 30 minutes and one that might, if they were so inclined, smuggle in one or more in some period of weeks or months.

Re:Money (2, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995186)

As an addendum to the "cheap-ass panel vans" notion:

Consider the number of major cities around the world that are near, or have grown around, their airports. Airports that have large numbers of passenger and cargo flights going in and out every day. Flights that, in many cases(discoverable with the aid of any flight-tracking website, or a pair of binoculars and some patience) travel over densely populated, economically important, and/or symbolic areas at an altitude where a nuclear air-burst would seriously ruin the population's day. And many others are situated such that such an overflight could be achieved with a few minutes of course correction at the end of an otherwise routine flight, which should be doable before any but the twitchiest air-defence forces realize something is up and do something about it.

Building missiles is, well, rocket science. Smuggling things, probing for weaknesses in routine shipping mechanisms, and compromising customs and inspection mechanisms in order to move contraband, on the other hand, are widely distributed skills, with large numbers of uses, available to virtually any population which doesn't consist wholly of subsistence mud farmers.

Even for major powers, though, covert "terrorist-style" strikes have their advantages. An ICBM, or even a shorter range missile or military aircraft, is generally visible even when not intercept-able. Having it traced back to you leaves you facing whatever second strike capability the opposition has, general world condemnation, and other unpleasant consequences.

If, on the other hand, the trail of the warhead disappears into a maze of shady import/export companies with probable-but-not-cleanly-demonstrable links to assorted intelligence agencies, criminals, and radicals of assorted stripe, with a trail of losses, "thefts" and whatnot, the country who has been hit is left in a lousy position. Massive public fear and anger, massive demands to Do Something, no clear target. Odds are, they'll end up doing something inchoate and fairly stupid, just for the sake of doing something.

(Addendum to addendum: The analogue for strategically vital ports is, of course, either one of the thousands of perfectly legitimate smallish craft that float around on various business, or one of those sneaky mini-subs that the drug war has driven the development of. There are a lot of people whose days would be ruined if a major container port or oil-tanker loading/offloading site were to be annihilated unexpectedly.)

Re:Money (1)

joeyspqr (629639) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995356)

Excellent point, and further I agree with the political sentiment I (would like to) sense implied ...

Having said that ... hitting flying objects and blowing them up is cool!
Maybe letting the military play with these toys and the wrinkly contractors pocket a few bills yields a technology that might be useful at some indeterminate future point?
Has that ever happened before? Maybe more importantly ... can the US afford that now?
Speaking sentimentally (my father was military turned wrinkly contractor) ... is this the kind of program in a fuzzy area that can be justified as R&D, is politically possible, maybe has possible 'soft power' dividends, keeps the engineers and rocket scientists working & production lines running ... does that pass the smell test?

Re:Money (1)

stdarg (456557) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995388)

Both threats will always exist. You think ICBMs are too complicated to make? I mean, India has a space program, China wants to go to the moon, do you really think these countries can't build ICBMs, or won't be able to in the near future?

Nuclear weapons are also complicated but countries like North Korea have them, and Iran is well on its way.

I'm not trying to exaggerate the threat, but the idea that the future of war is purely low-tech is just absurd. There will be low-tech threats from terrorists, and high-tech threats from emerging powers.

Even if it actually worked, a lot of this missile defence stuff reeks of wrinkly old guys

Biased much? I bet a lot of the old people working in missile defense are still a lot smarter than you.

Re:Money (4, Insightful)

Smegly (1607157) | more than 4 years ago | (#30994214)

Maybe if the US stopped wasting money on boondoggles like this, they wouldn't have had to cancel plans to return to the Moon.

Not to mention the side benefit of generating productive tech, instead of just destructive tech. The problem with the moon missions is that the big defense corporations running the US [wikipedia.org] just can't justify such large profits with moon missions. The population (or its politicians) are much less willing to fund if there is no fear factor [wikipedia.org] . Fear does not drive the moon mission development like it does for military expenditure unless you try and use the fear of China doing it first to our exclusion, but even then it's still not the same kind of primeval motivation == less profit.

Re:Money (2, Insightful)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#30994318)

Agreed. Fear is a major factor in military spending. Hell, just look at the shopping spree after 9/11...

Ahh, if only the rest of the world shared your... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30994362)

kumbayah, rose-colored glasses view of mankind:

http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/meast/01/31/iran.protests/index.html?section=cnn_latest [cnn.com]

FTFA: "Meanwhile, state-run Press TV quoted Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Sunday as saying that the nation will deliver a harsh blow to "global arrogance" on February 11.

Press TV offered no details on or explanation of the statement."

What would you have us do in the face of such threats? Ignore them? Sure, he's probably just waving his dick around to gain populist support at home, but what if he's not? This shit-for-brains incites genocide practically around the clock. Come to think of it, isn't inciting genocide against some kind of UN law? I'm pretty sure it is. Once again, the UN is exposed for the impotent and decadent international debate club that it is...

Re:Money (3, Insightful)

dlt074 (548126) | more than 4 years ago | (#30994410)

some of the biggest gains in tech come during war or threat of war. this technology will undoubtably have beneficial technologies used for non military things. GPS was first created for military purposes. now look at it. just because you don't like the idea of being able to survive/defend against a missile attack because it's some how bad form to live when your enemy wants you dead, doesn't mean that there will be no other gains from it. i'm pretty sure that there is moon shot technology used by the military today. some private sector tech gets used for bad things too.

Re:Money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30994860)

some of the biggest gains in tech come during war or threat of war.

Your argument does not mean that big gains can be made without times of war, only that war motivates *some* kinds of tech over others. i.e. exactly what the PP was pointing out. If you wanted to look at it from a resource allocation point of view, military spending on weapons of mass destruction and arms whose only purpose is to kill (and not suitable for anything) else far outweighs the fringe tech spin-offs like GPS, guidance systems etc.

Re:Money (1)

curmudgeous (710771) | more than 4 years ago | (#30994504)

"...The population (or its politicians) are much less willing to fund if there is no fear factor. Fear does not drive the moon mission development like it does for military expenditure..."

The solution is to somehow paint a moonbase as essential to planetary defense, as in from a "global extinction" event asteroid that just happens to have been recently discovered (wink, wink). Fortunately, its expected impact is just far enough in the future to allow us to build and stock the base....

Yeah, that might work. :D

Re:Money (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30994782)

I suggest a different strategy: We've all seen the strength of US paranoia about Islamic terrorism(real threat, absurdly disproportionate and, at times completely nonsensical, response). Now, there is a theory, popular among the more nutbag Christian rightists, that Islam is, rather than being an Abrahamic monotheism in the same general vein as Judaism and Christianity, actually a pagan moon cult(screw on your tinfoil hat and google around if you don't believe me).

The obvious course of action, for those who want a renewed US lunar effort, is to fan the flames of this theory as much as possible, both at home and abroad. If it gains broad currency, the hawkish case for using our l33t science power to build a base right on top of the enemy's pagan idol, in the long tradition of desecration based warfare but with additional implications of technological and industrial supremacy, will become abundantly clear.

To be clear, I think that that would be a rubbish reason for going back to the moon; but as a means of selling the idea of going back to the moon...

Re:Money (1)

idiotnot (302133) | more than 4 years ago | (#30994546)

The problem with the moon missions is that the big defense corporations running the US ... just can't justify such large profits with moon missions. The population (or its politicians) are much less willing to fund if there is no fear factor.

I call BS, to an extent. The thing about moon missions is that it's not a high-volume, medium-skill production, unlike, say The C-17 [politico.com] . If space travel was well-refined, and high volume, the story might be different. Instead, Congress is pointing funding at programs that keep people in their districts employed, for better or for worse. And that's despite what the "evil" Department of Defense, and President ask for.

Re:Money (1)

bfr99 (1729262) | more than 4 years ago | (#30994562)

Some fear motivated projects are quite worthwhile. The interstate highway system for example was created to facilitate military transport between the coasts (just like the Panama canal) and more obviously the internet was created by DARPA to develop a communications network that had a chance of surviving a Russian nuclear attack.

Re:Money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30994710)

Maybe if the US stopped wasting money on boondoggles like this, they wouldn't have had to cancel plans to return to the Moon.

Not to mention the side benefit of generating productive tech, instead of just destructive tech. The problem with the moon missions is that the big defense corporations running the US [wikipedia.org] just can't justify such large profits with moon missions. The population (or its politicians) are much less willing to fund if there is no fear factor [wikipedia.org] . Fear does not drive the moon mission development like it does for military expenditure unless you try and use the fear of China doing it first to our exclusion, but even then it's still not the same kind of primeval motivation == less profit.

Exactly...Stop wasting money on this and fund the companies in bio terror like SIGA'S ST-246 to battle against smallpox a much realer threat.

Re:Money (1)

solarlux (610904) | more than 4 years ago | (#30994824)

Yeah, defense contractors are bloated monsters. That's why the biggest one (in terms of government contracts), Lockheed Martin, is a whopping #98 on the Fortune 500 list. And yeah, developing technologies to defend populations against the destructive missile technology that already exists is "destructive tech". I love the idiocy that gets modded up on Slashdot.

Re:Money (1)

Smegly (1607157) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995014)

The cold hard facts prove you wrong. Summarizing some key details from chapter 5 of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI)’s 2009 Year Book on Armaments, Disarmament and International Security for 2008:

* World military expenditure in 2008 is estimated to have reached $1.464 trillion in current dollars (just over $1.2 trillion in 2005 constant dollars, as per above graph);
* This represents a 4 per cent increase in real terms since 2007 and a 45 per cent increase over the 10-year period since 1999;
* This corresponds to 2.4 per cent of world gross domestic product (GDP), or $217 for each person in the world;
* The USA with its massive spending budget, is the principal determinant of the current world trend, and its military expenditure now accounts for just under half of the world total, at 41.5% of the world total;
http://www.globalissues.org/article/75/world-military-spending

Re:Money (1)

solarlux (610904) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995346)

I did make a mistake, Lockheed Martin is # 57 on the list (not # 98). Beyond that, my point was that defense contractor companies are relatively small in comparison to the titans of industry. I was not making any arguments about military spending as a whole.

Re:Money (2, Insightful)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995106)

Your post is truly ironic.

Yes, I would like to see developments for production sake, but so many production developments came from war/destruction spending.

For example, aren't the rockets that get us into space descended from the ICBM research?

Likewise, automobiles were designed to be productive, weren't they? But without them, we wouldn't have tanks.

It's a two way street. Given the flaw listed here, I can see improvements to GPS as one potential benefit coming out of this system. Maybe it could improve rocket systems as well, something that would help space travel...

Money? There is no money. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30994542)

The U.S. government has NO money. It is deeply, deeply in debt because for many years it spent money it doesn't have.

Perhaps the real purpose of the "US Missile Defense" is making money for the people who build it.

The U.S. government is extremely corrupt. One example is that bad news is kept secret from the taxpayers: "The [military] isn't disclosing..." Look at the news from the U.S. government directly: Missile Defense Test Conducted. [mda.mil] The short public relations piece says:

1) "A target missile was successfully launched..." A trivial success, that is only a missile launch of a missile designed to be destroyed.

2) "... a Ground-Based Interceptor was successfully launched..." That is another trivial success.

3) "However, the Sea-Based X-band radar did not perform as expected." Note that there is no information about the extent of the failure. The real news is presented in an intentionally confusing manner, in the last sentence of a paragraph.

The U.S. government hides what is being done with the taxpayer's money. That benefits the rich and powerful companies that get money from the government, and hurts the nation and every citizen. If you let the corruption happen, expect that life in the U.S. will get much worse than 15% of people being out of work, stopped looking for work, or underemployed.

Re:Money (4, Interesting)

vtcodger (957785) | more than 4 years ago | (#30994622)

***Maybe if the US stopped wasting money on boondoggles like this, they wouldn't have had to cancel plans to return to the Moon.***

Naw. Returning to the moon, while feasible, is pointless, and the chances that you were going to get to Mars were pretty close to nil. That's my idea of a boondoggle ... if not yours. If you ask me, the US manned space program has been stuck on a wrong track for four decades. First, you learn to build cheap reliable transport -- which may take half a century or more. Then, and only then, do you start seriously putting people into space.

This test, on the other hand is a test of a DEFENSIVE system, not another tool for getting into trouble. As a result of stuff I did many years ago in another life, I actually knew something about this stuff at one time. I personally think that it is probably impossible to build an effective anti-missile system -- at least for use against significant opponents. It's simply cheaper for the guys building the missiles (them) to create and deploy countermeasures than it is for the defenders (us) to overcome the countermeasures.

But we don't know that for sure if that's true if we don't do our R&D. And that's what this is -- Research and Development.

What is a boondogle IMHO is the Bush administration initiated deployment of "operational" anti-missile systems that almost certainly would not work worth a damn if called into action. If you ask me (and no one did or will), that never even rose to the level of stupid.

Sneaky. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30994070)

Post news about your failed test, when in all reality it's probably fully functional.

Reminds me of the Second Death Star in Return of the Jedi.

The Death Star's superlaser was revealed to be operational before the construction of the station was completed, surprising the Alliance attackers during the Battle of Endor. The Alliance ground forces on the forest moon of Endor managed to deactivate the energy shield surrounding the battlestation, and the Rebel fleet proceeded to destroy the station from within, signifying the beginning of the downfall of the Empire.

Bring on the enemy missiles! We've got quite a surprise for you!

Re:Sneaky. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30994094)

Of course, the whole point of a Doomsday Machine is lost if you keep it a secret! Why didn't you tell the world, eh?

Re:Sneaky. (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 4 years ago | (#30994124)

Except that it is now most likely (though still very unlikely) that a nuclear strike on the USA will come from a terrorist device in the cargo hold of a ship or airplane rather than flying in on the end of a missile.

Re:Sneaky. (4, Insightful)

SnapShot (171582) | more than 4 years ago | (#30994528)

You make an interesting point.

However, I'd like to make the irrefutable counter-argument that missiles and rockets are cool while inspecting ships, planes and trucks is boring.

Re:Sneaky. (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#30994618)

That must explain why Iran and North Korea are so busy working on cargo ships [wikipedia.org] and airplanes [wikipedia.org] as delivery systems......

Re:Sneaky. (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 4 years ago | (#30994814)

The chances of a sovereign state attacking the USA with one of these missiles is very small. If terrorists get hold of a nuclear device or dirty bomb, or a rogue state wants to attack the USA and make it look like a terrorist attack, then it will not be launched from their country.

They might sneak it into an unpopulated area of another country, but once you have it secretly transported it is probably just as easy to take it to a port or airport in the West.

Re:Sneaky. (4, Funny)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 4 years ago | (#30994146)

Wow, is that really a quote from Wookieepedia to explain to Slashdot readers the story in Return of the Jedi?

You really know your audience...

Re:Sneaky. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30994186)

It's never going to be 100%, so the idea is to convince a potential attacker that there is a decent chance the attack will fail (bringing reprisal, etc. etc.). Create the kind of FUD that Slashdot likes to talk about in a business context. Pretending to be poorly defended and inviting attempts is not a likely strategy. If it ever works, you'll hear about it.

Dr. Strangelove is probably a better source of quotations than Star Wars for this one.

SPOILERS! (2, Funny)

nick357 (108909) | more than 4 years ago | (#30994650)

Jeepers dude - give away the whole story why don't you...

No surprise, really (2, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 4 years ago | (#30994112)

There is exactly one instance of missile defense working that I'm aware of, namely combating Iraqi Scud missiles back around 1993.

But the important thing to realize about this version of missile defense (and its predecessor, Star Wars) is that they don't need to work to accomplish their real purpose, which is funneling large sums of taxpayer cash to defense contractors.

Re:No surprise, really (2, Insightful)

Havokmon (89874) | more than 4 years ago | (#30994228)

We should also just get rid of guns because not all bullets are effective. ;) And to echo a troll above(Right, because taking out missiles before they reach us isnt important. While visiting a giant rock in space is beneficial.), the science that comes out of these contracts is far more beneficial than the actual product.

Re:No surprise, really (1)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 4 years ago | (#30994404)

We should also just get rid of guns because not all bullets are effective.

I've often thought that the common citizenry like ourselves should be bludgeoning in the heads of people who manufacture and sell weapons with rocks when we see them at the mall or out walking their dog. Is that what you mean?

Re:No surprise, really (1)

Havokmon (89874) | more than 4 years ago | (#30994690)

We should also just get rid of guns because not all bullets are effective.
I've often thought that the common citizenry like ourselves should be bludgeoning in the heads of people who manufacture and sell weapons with rocks when we see them at the mall or out walking their dog. Is that what you mean?

No, but that's exactly why I have no problem with open carry laws. :)

Re:No surprise, really (1)

imakemusic (1164993) | more than 4 years ago | (#30994568)

We should also just get rid of guns[...]

Sounds great!

Re:No surprise, really (1)

Boldoran (1660753) | more than 4 years ago | (#30994624)

We should also just get rid of guns because not all bullets are effective. ;)

No we should get rid of them because some of them are effective.

Re:No surprise, really (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995008)

Actually, taking out missiles before they reach us isn't all that important, because anyone with missiles that can reach the United States (a fairly short list: China, Russia, Britain, France, Canada, maybe Mexico and Cuba) knows about Mutually Assured Destruction, and isn't completely suicidal.

Re:No surprise, really (1)

cfortin (23148) | more than 4 years ago | (#30994266)

Yawn, yea, its all a conspiracy ...

Or perhaps, this kind of system is fscking *hard*, and getting it working would be a huge thing. Or is duck-and-cover good enough for you and your kids?

Re:No surprise, really (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#30994344)

I see.

So because this is hard and expensive, it's worth it...but space exploration is hard and expensive as well. Do you see that as a waste?

(yes, I'm making assumptions here...my apologies)

Re:No surprise, really (1)

SirTicksAlot (576078) | more than 4 years ago | (#30994354)

...this kind of system is fscking *hard*,... Perhaps they should not power it off so abruptly next time.

Re:No surprise, really (5, Informative)

linuxgurugamer (917289) | more than 4 years ago | (#30994278)

Actually, you're wrong.

In the first place, the Patriot missiles were only partially successful. Since they weren't intended for the purpose of defending large areas, that is acceptable, and they've been improved since them. But the Patriot missiles are a short range defense.

There have been previous successful tests. A simple google search turned up the following:

Reuters [reuters.com]
Military Defense Agency [mda.mil]
Heritage Foundation [heritage.org]

Re:No surprise, really (4, Informative)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#30994286)

Funny you should mention that. The effectiveness of Patriots in Gulf War I is hotly [fas.org] contested [fas.org] .

Both sides rely on subjective arguments about what constitutes a "successful intercept", neither have any hard data on how many (if any) Scuds were actually downed, and the folks that were having the Scuds aimed at them said that they were getting through pretty well, so I'd have to conclude that the preponderance of evidence is that Patriot was a propaganda weapon in Gulf War I.

I should note that plenty of money has been thrown at defence contractors since then, and there's certainly no technical reason why AMBs can't work. It's just that nobody has shown that they do.

Re:No surprise, really the clocks failed... (1)

syntheticmemory (1232092) | more than 4 years ago | (#30994626)

Wasn't there an issue with the internal digital clock getting out of sync with real time?

Re:No surprise, really (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995468)

and there's certainly no technical reason why AMBs can't work

Sure there is. A dumb missile is always going to be a couple orders of magnitude cheaper to build than an interceptor. All the enemy has to do is keep firing until we run out of interceptors, or fire a volley with enough targets that we can't accurately track them, or saturate the radar installations with attacks until one finally gets through (a >90% success rate would be pretty incredible, and it only takes one well aimed missile to take out a target).

A missile defense system can only ever work against a limited number of incoming missiles, launched in a rather haphazard way; it's purposes are A) Limited attacks by rouge nations/generals/terrorists or B) Defense against a counter-attack after a major (nuclear) war has already been won.

Re:No surprise, really (2, Interesting)

Idbar (1034346) | more than 4 years ago | (#30994586)

And since they allegedly failed, they will of course need some extra cash for "improvements".

Re:No surprise, really (1)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995050)

their real purpose, which is funneling large sums of taxpayer cash to defense contractors.

That may be true, but this is the best kind of corruption the military-industrial-congressional complex can have: defense R&D. I would much prefer seeing my money spent on scientists and engineers in the states than on offensive, unnecessary overseas wars.

We don't need a large standing army. Having a small group with the best technology at their disposal is the better way to go.

They always fail. (-1, Redundant)

kurt555gs (309278) | more than 4 years ago | (#30994128)

time to end this silliness. Reagan is dead, his "Starwars" waste of money should join him. We could easily have free medical care for everyone if we cut the defense department to a reasonable size.

Eisenhower was right in his "Cross of Iron" speech.

Re:They always fail. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30994340)

"Free" medical care? Who the fuck is going to pay for THAT? Yeah, I didn't think you had an answer.

Reagan's whole schtick did exactly what it was designed to do: bring down the soviets through intimidation.

You fail. (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30994386)

Maybe we should spend a little more money on literacy and math, since you fail at both.

US medical spending is over $2.5 trillion http://www.medpagetoday.com/PublicHealthPolicy/Washington-Watch/13016 [medpagetoday.com]
US defense spending is $685 billion http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_budget_of_the_United_States [wikipedia.org]

Free your mind ... your ass will follow.

Re:You fail. (1)

darkmeridian (119044) | more than 4 years ago | (#30994896)

You're missing the point. First, your own link says that total military expenditures totaled a trillion dollars. But the fact is that if we got rid of the total military expenditures, and gave it all to medical care, you would be able to provide care to everyone. That's what the guy was saying.

Re:You fail. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30995510)

Get rid of both and apply the savings to the debt, then our money is worth more and everybody wins.

Re:You fail. (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30994962)

That's spending by the entire nation, not the budget allocation of the federal government. If you look at the recent NYTimes graphic, spending on defense in this budget almost exactly equals SS spending, and is greater than government health care spending. But think of what we get for it!

Re:They always fail. (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30994470)

The idea of missile defense goes back to the 50s, but the tech wasn't goon enough then. It was revised in the 60s, and Macnamara announced I think in 68 they were starting an AMD program. Reagan started the Star Wars program in the 80s as a means to force the Soviet Union to outspend its production capability and bankrupt itself, all the while we were spending less than it looked like. He had no intention of actually putting lasers in space, etc. Turns out he was right. The Cold War arms build up bankrupted the SU. Guess he was smarter than he looked.

Re:They always fail. (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#30994638)

Reagan is dead, his "Starwars" waste of money should join him. We could easily have free medical care for everyone if we cut the defense department to a reasonable size.

I hate to break it to you but nothing is "free"......

Re:They always fail. (1)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995072)

Indeed, and the word "care" lacks definition as well. We have free medical care today, if you define care as whatever you can manage to do for yourself.

When the price of ANY service is TRULY free, there is no way that ANY society that exists could truly afford to provide it. Demand will be infinite, and so will cost. No "free" healthcare system is truly free. Now, it might be lower cost than it is in the US (I'm not fan of the status quo), but don't be under any illusions that there are no tradeoffs.

Re:They always fail. (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#30994890)

We could easily have free medical care for everyone if we cut the defense department to a reasonable size.

Even if we ignore that there's no such thing as "free" medical care, it still remains that most people can pay their way for medical care. At least with anti-missile systems, the government does something that can't otherwise be done and it is a lot less waste (by two to three orders of magnitude) than "free" medical care for people who don't need it.

Re:They always fail. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30995248)

How would it be a good thing to increase our spending on entitlement programs when they already consume nearly 54% of the annual budget. Even if you canceled all of the defense spending, you would only be able to sponsor another program the size of Medicare, which has been a failure for the most part and still would not be able to provide free care to everyone. Defense spending is only 16.85% of the federal budget for FY2009, Medicare+Medicaid is nearly 21% and growing. This should be a stark reminder why we don't actually want more systems like this. The military budgets are inflated fighting wars, the Medicare and Medicaid budgets are perpetually growing without reason.

I'm in favor of cutting programs that can't prove their success, but that cut is made with a knife that is double sided. If we are going to be cutting defense programs that don't work, the entitlement and welfare programs that don't work need to be cut as well. With the utter and complete failure most of our social systems have been on improving domestic living conditions and their lack of positive social impact, it's about time we go item by item and make each one prove their existence. Note, proving a need for their existence would require more than a morality excuse, but a true analysis of their cost and effect.

Whoopy Doopy (1)

AgentSmith (69695) | more than 4 years ago | (#30994134)

Oh no!

The government has a glitch with an insanely complex missile system.
Good to know, but *Yawn* "Film at 11" me and wake me when it's fixed.

Failed test or failed missile? (5, Insightful)

noidentity (188756) | more than 4 years ago | (#30994168)

Did the test fail, or the missle? The difference is that a failed test means you don't get any useful information about the device under test, whereas a successful test means that you found out whatever you wanted to know about the device under test.

Example: a test to determine whether a cellphone fails when immersed in water. If you find that your water has been shut off, you have a failed test, because you can't even try immersing the phone in water. If your water works and you immerse the phone and it stops working, the test is successful and your result is that the phone failed. If it still works, then you have a successful test and a phone that didn't fail.

</pedant>

Re:Failed test or failed missile? (3, Insightful)

toleraen (831634) | more than 4 years ago | (#30994284)

Even my minimal 3 years as a test engineer knows that your pedant tag doesn't apply. If a test fails that doesn't mean you didn't get any information at all, it means you have pass/fail criteria set for a specific test and if you didn't meet the pass criteria (e.g., you didn't intercept the threat cluster) your test fails.

Re:Failed test or failed missile? (1)

Golddess (1361003) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995418)

a recent test of a US missile defense system has failed.

Both the target missile [...] and the interceptor [...] performed as expected.

Reading those two lines, I think the missiles failed to fail?

Re:Failed test or failed missile? (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995466)

Yes, but following that suggests something failed:

The [military] isn't disclosing whether the intercepting kill vehicle had simply failed to reach the 'threat cluster' of warhead(s) and decoys, or whether it had reached the cluster but hit a countermeasure rather than the actual target.

Why it failed (4, Funny)

nacturation (646836) | more than 4 years ago | (#30994252)

Few people know the real story behind this, which is quickly being covered up. The sea-based X-band radar failed because it stopped mid-test to install a Windows update. As all available bandwidth was consumed by the critical IE6 patch, the message "Please wait while Windows installs your updates. You will be able to resume your hostilities at the conclusion of this operation."

Re:Why it failed (1)

mathimus1863 (1120437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30994886)

I know you were being funny, but it's kinda sad how close your comment is to reality. Much military hardware, including the entire ships' systems that carry SM3s, are run on Windows. Win 2000 I believe. I can't imagine it being a good idea, but they've done it.

Re:Why it failed (1)

ellessidil (1172717) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995414)

I work for MDA, and I assure you its WinXP on everything. Everything.

Sadly at the end of this year its a full push to WinVista, even though we have had everyone from IT basically beg for them to skip Vista and move straight to 7. The Civ in charge of IT as a whole thinks Vista is a cleaner upgrade path though, and if a civie wants it, 99.9% of the time the civie gets it.

Forced Upgrades (5, Funny)

yellekc (819322) | more than 4 years ago | (#30994328)

This system will still force our adversaries to build more complex rockets and delivery systems. Rocket science is tough even for the Russians, Chinese, and North Koreans. So maybe in their attempt to upgrade their rockets to bypass our barely working defense systems, they will make even more mistakes than we did, and their rockets will fail all on their own. Based on resent missile test from Russia and North Korea it might just work.

Re:Forced Upgrades (1)

cptdondo (59460) | more than 4 years ago | (#30994428)

Hehe... One reason the Iraqi Scuds were so hard to bring down is that they broke up and tumbled on the descent, throwing out all sorts of debris and also making their descent hard to predict.

It's damn hard to bring down a missile in flight (do the math on the approach velocities and the accuracy required). It's easy to spew out debris and confuse the defense. High tech can't really take on low tech in some things.

Who still uses X band? Ka band and Laser are used (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 4 years ago | (#30994356)

Who still uses X band? Ka band and Laser are used more.

Re:Who still uses X band? Ka band and Laser are us (1)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 4 years ago | (#30994978)

Who still uses X band? Ka band and Laser are used more.

The "X" makes it sound cool.

Re:Who still uses X band? Ka band and Laser are us (1)

s122604 (1018036) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995302)

Ka Band, Laser? Resolution/Discrimination is phenomenal at K band, but range can be a problem. As wavelength goes down, you start getting real issues with propagation through the atmosphere. The attenuation from water vapor can be severe...

you can't defeat iranian missiles with this (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#30994456)

mainly because iran employs a diabolical tactic that no american interceptor can defeat: if a missile of their's is shot down, they merely photoshop some more:

http://www.boingboing.net/2008/07/10/iran-you-suck-at-pho.html [boingboing.net]

however, i would encourage american military planners to adopt iran's own dark tactics against it, and photoshop lots of missile interceptors. that should do the trick

and if the combined powers of fark photoshop and 4chan were militarized, we could bury iranian internet warriors in sheer volume of photoshopped missiles. throw in some lolcats, general ackbar, gold paint sniffer dude, and that guy riding a missile from "dr. strangelove", and iranian missiles will be decisively defeated

Re:you can't defeat iranian missiles with this (1)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 4 years ago | (#30994658)

general ackbar

Did he transfer to the Rebel ground forces or something? I thought he was in command of a fleet, not an army.

i can't answer your comment because (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#30994714)

"it's a trap!"

Not all missile defense sucks (3, Informative)

mathimus1863 (1120437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30994680)

I know everyone is freaking out about how missile defense is defective by design and this proves their greatest concerns. However, go look up Aegis BMD/SM3, which is one of the other missile defense programs. It's the most successful program so far, having something like 12/15 successful flight tests. And not all the tests are hand-holding exercises, including the satellite shoot-down, which was remarkable since SM3 was not designed for that. I believe THAAD has also had some recent, successful flight tests too. In fact, I'm pretty sure GMD is the one missile defense program that hasn't had any successful tests. I don't know why we still give Boeing money.

Too hard...let's give up. (1)

QuantumPion (805098) | more than 4 years ago | (#30994694)

So if the missile defense system doesn't 100% work on the first try with a realistic test, then the entire program was a waste of money and we should give up immediately? By that logic we should have canceled the Apollo project after Apollo 1...

mod 3o3n (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30994736)

Shrug (3, Insightful)

argStyopa (232550) | more than 4 years ago | (#30994888)

I dunno, isn't it more credible if some tests DO fail?

It's a government contract - of COURSE it's rife with collusion, padding, selective data, etc. Doesn't mean we shouldn't try to develop the tech.

It will never work. (1)

VShael (62735) | more than 4 years ago | (#30995048)

This is the equivalent of shooting a bullet out of the air, with another bullet.

And that's just not possible.

This whole idea should never ever have passed the first smell test. The only question people should ask now is "Who is benefitting from this?"

Any project with a budget as large as ... well, the amount that's been wasted on this, needs to be able show proof of concept, set targets, meet them, and have a fixed deadline. Otherwise, you're just pissing away good money after bad.

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