Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Missile Defense's Real Enemy: Math

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the i-will-confuse-you-by-running-straight-at-you dept.

Math 589

An anonymous reader writes "Since the 1960s until the present day, missile defense has been a hot topic. Ronald Reagan popularized the concept with his 'Star Wars' multi-billion dollar plan to use lasers and various technologies to destroy incoming Soviet warheads. Today, America has a sizable sea-based system, dubbed AEGIS, that has been deployed to defend against rogue states missiles, both conventional and nuclear. However, there is one thing missile defense can't beat: simple math. 'Think about it — could we someday see a scenario where American forces at sea with a fixed amount of defensive countermeasures face an enemy with large numbers of cruise and ballistic weapons that have the potential to simply overwhelm them? Could a potential adversary fire off older weapons that are not as accurate (PDF), causing a defensive response that exhausts all available missile interceptors so more advanced weapons with better accuracy can deliver the crushing blow? Simply put: does math win?'"

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

americans world math avg (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42762871)

32nd

ya that might be a problem OH LOOK how many is that in the sky....

The problem with averages (5, Insightful)

MyLongNickName (822545) | about a year and a half ago | (#42763055)

The problem with averages is this: Only a small percentage of the population are in jobs that require advanced algebra, trigonometry and calculus. Although I went through differential equations in my undergraduate, and still enjoy math, I do not need it for my IT Management job. Statistics I use infrequently. Algebra I use somewhat (but not advanced). When you are measuring the US population average against other country averages (and in many cases just a subset of those other countries) you are not getting to the crux of the issue -- how does our top 2%(or whatever the appropriate number is) compare against other countries' top 2%. If our universities are producing engineers with much worse scores than our counterparts, then I will worry.

On a side note: When trying to make fun of another group's intelligence, you should write a post that doesn't make you sound like a 9 year old who forgot his ADHD medication.

Re:The problem with averages (2)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year and a half ago | (#42763251)

Agreed, calculus was one of my favorite subjects in high school (the other being Latin), but I don't need anything remotely that advanced as a sysadmin. Basic seventh grade algebra gets me through the day-to-day. I know some people who do need high level math in their job and they're brilliant.

As a side note, your post is insulting to 9 year olds. I know many 7 year olds who can write better than the original poster.

Re:The problem with averages (5, Insightful)

Stone Rhino (532581) | about a year and a half ago | (#42763271)

In a democracy, you can't get away with having a small minority with all the knowledge. The whole population needs to be informed enough to do basic math and critical thinking. A basic grasp of statistics, algebra, and how to do a budget would make a huge difference in the ability to evaluate what politicians say and have a well-functioning democracy. If you can't decide for yourself, the facts just become another political football with competing claims.

Re:The problem with averages (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42763313)

If our universities are producing engineers with much worse scores than our counterparts, then I will worry.

Our universities produce other countries' top engineers, too...

Re:The problem with averages (2)

unixisc (2429386) | about a year and a half ago | (#42763423)

I completely agree with this. I've never figured out why an average person on a day to day basis would need to know things like trigonometry, calculus, complex numbers, or things like Laplace Transforms. OTOH, Math courses would do well to introduce Binary Arithmetic and Boolean Algebra at school level, so that kids get up to speed on those things early, and can segway from there into either programming, or logic design. In the meantime, topics like complex algebra should be shifted to Pure Math courses, while things like trigonometry & calculus would still be there, but take a back seat to computing-centric math: their main purpose being to form the basis of programing exercises to calculate heights and distances and so on. In other words, computers should be the ones using trigonometry, calculus and so on, not average people.

Re: americans world math avg (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42763345)

but it takes just a few top notch to make them missiles not whole country

Simply put... No. (4, Insightful)

beelsebob (529313) | about a year and a half ago | (#42762889)

Of course there's an element of "the country with the largest army wins" (for a given definition of win), but the idea that these systems are stupid enough to shoot down missiles that aren't going to hit targets is laughable.

Re:Simply put... No. (5, Informative)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year and a half ago | (#42763011)

Israel's defense system has a simple solution. It's programmed with a map showing which areas are populated, and which expendable. On detecting an incoming rocket*, it estimates the impact site and only fires an interceptor if it is heading for somewhere populated.

*The ones Israel is being showered with at the moment are numerous, but very cheap and simple - barely even guided, just enough to hit the right city, sometimes.

Re:Simply put... No. (4, Insightful)

DarkOx (621550) | about a year and a half ago | (#42763133)

Right but its not as if those older less accurate weapons are not accurate enough to resulted in an estimated impact zone that is not "expendable". At the end of the day you have to have more interceptors than I have missiles. I can barrage you with cheap munitions that are designed to just rain down over a general area, like you know a city, with just some basic magnetic guidance to keep it on a strait course. Sure maybe these things don't fly fast enough and have no hope of evading your interceptors; but they do consume them. Once your out of expensive weapons I can bring out my good ones to use on your high value targets.

Re:Simply put... No. (5, Insightful)

war4peace (1628283) | about a year and a half ago | (#42763351)

I would honestly be more worried about conflict escalation ladder here. If an enemy launches 10K small missiles that have the potential to kill 100K citizens, the US might escalate the conflict and fight back by launching 50 nuclear warheads which would kill 50M enemy citizens, and so on and so forth, until nobody's left to tell the tale.

Re:Simply put... No. (2)

ByOhTek (1181381) | about a year and a half ago | (#42763165)

Your asterisked issue is the whole point.

Set a missile to appear that it will land someplace harmless, and once it's over land, alter it's course. Costal cities are probably safe, but anything too far inland is will make a nice target, save the costal shots for the end of the barrage.

The author has a point. Although it's only damage mitigation, rather than prevention at that point, a mainland missile defense system would probably be a good backup.

Re:Simply put... No. (4, Insightful)

Nutria (679911) | about a year and a half ago | (#42763299)

Set a missile to appear that it will land someplace harmless, and once it's over land, alter it's course.

Then it's not a cheap, mass produced expendable missile anymore.

Re:Simply put... No. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42763347)

Gyros are WWII tech and timers are cheap ever since quartz.

Re:Simply put... No. (2)

ByOhTek (1181381) | about a year and a half ago | (#42763415)

It's less cheap, but it can still be fairly cheap.

Alt, you could have a bunch of cheap mass produced missiles that appear like the nicer missiles until the nicer missiles change directions and the cheap missiles don't. Increase the design cost a few bucks with placing weights at the right spots to give it a sufficiently similar flight profile until guidance systems turn on, maybe some cheap electronics to appear like it's running telemetry systems (not bother with the processing/nav bits, just radar pulses like everyone else, maybe a cheap GPR)...

The electronics and weights will still be cheap compared to the cost of things like fuel, and machining of the hull parts, I suspect. So your really cheap missiles are now slightly less cheap, and act as decoys so your nice missiles don't get shot down.

Re:Simply put... No. (2)

Dahamma (304068) | about a year and a half ago | (#42763429)

Set a missile to appear that it will land someplace harmless, and once it's over land, alter it's course. Costal cities are probably safe, but anything too far inland is will make a nice target, save the costal shots for the end of the barrage.

I'd argue the reverse there. Any missile with enough range to hit inland cities is not going to be that cheap.

Re:Simply put... No. (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year and a half ago | (#42763277)

It's also been shown that Israel's defense system would not scale well to large countries, such as the United States. It's a start, but still a long way from a solution.

Re:Simply put... No. (1)

Chrontius (654879) | about a year and a half ago | (#42763427)

Occasionally, not guided at all. I think the Quassim rockets are entirely aimed by hand, unguided, and don't need to be. As long as the rocket lands within 20 miles of a target region...

Re:Simply put... No. (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#42763065)

So then make sure they will hit targets.
You can save money by only making every Nth have a warhead instead of a brick. So long as the mass is the same the interceptor system cannot tell them apart.

Re:Simply put... No. (1)

craigminah (1885846) | about a year and a half ago | (#42763187)

You think the Iron Dome measures mass or volume? Is it even possible to accurately measure mass of a body in flight froma distance?

Re:Simply put... No. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42763085)

Seriously. Israel's "Iron Dome" system already calculates the trajectory of an incoming missile so that it doesn't waste interceptors on something that's just going to hit a vacant lot in the desert.

2/10 trolling, Soulskill.

Re:Simply put... No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42763203)

You can calculate/guess at the trajectory when the missiles do not have a guidance system. For ones that do, they could change their flight path and it would be much hard to predict where they are intending to go.

Re:Simply put... No. (2)

khallow (566160) | about a year and a half ago | (#42763393)

Such gimmicks cut into the capability and reliability of the missile and make it cost more. One of the things to remember about a working defense system is that the strategies for overwhelming the system are costly and complicated in themselves. Currently, those costs are less than building a working system capable of withstanding that degree of overwhelming. That's the "math" of which the article speaks.

But it's worth considering that the tactical advantage might not stay there. For example, it may turn out that in a few decades a relatively cheap laser system can provide substantial defense against a number of missiles and decoys. In that case, the game changes.

Re:Simply put... No. (4, Interesting)

Artraze (600366) | about a year and a half ago | (#42763267)

Indeed. This is an incredibly stupid article and the implication that this is some inherit law of math is outrageous... Somehow the missile defense installations have a fixed amount of resources but the enemy doesn't? Come on!

One of the most basic rules of warfare is this: a strategy if a winner if it costs them more than it costs you. A missile defense is still a valuable tool if interceptors cost less than what they're intercepting regardless of whether or not what they're intercepting would do any damage because the enemy still had to build the thing. And from the same perspective if an enemy is going to build a missile why not just put a ton of TNT on it and point it in the general direction of a city? Even without guidance (which would add meaningful cost, unlike the TNT) a city is a big enough target that it presents a credible threat anyways and so needs to be intercepted.

Arg, this is just ridiculous!

Re:Simply put... No. (1)

Jawnn (445279) | about a year and a half ago | (#42763341)

Of course there's an element of "the country with the largest army wins" (for a given definition of win), but the idea that these systems are stupid enough to shoot down missiles that aren't going to hit targets is laughable.

Not at all. The "will it hit it's target" question is not one that can be easily answered in enough cases that the math does not matter. All I have to do is get close and I look like enough of a threat to draw a response. It's possible that defensive systems could collect enough information (flight profile, radar signature, exhaust temp) from a possible threat to make guess on whether or not it's worth shooting at, but that's a losing game in the end. All the adversary has to do is make his crowd pleasers look enough like the decoys.

Re:Simply put... No. (2)

coldsalmon (946941) | about a year and a half ago | (#42763389)

Exactly: this applies to any military engagement, no matter what the technology. See, for example, Napoleon and Hitler's invasions of Russia.

The math may win... (0)

immaterial (1520413) | about a year and a half ago | (#42762901)

The math may win, but the spelling sure doesn't. Reagen??

The other real enemy: logic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42762905)

Nevermind the math - how about "logic"? Just who exactly in the fuck is supposed to be SHOOTING all these weapons?

But then again, "missile defense" was NEVER about getting a system that works, it was always just a handy way to shovel massive piles of tax dollars at defense contractors - a mission which it has succeeded and continues to succeed at.

Re:The other real enemy: logic (1)

postbigbang (761081) | about a year and a half ago | (#42762947)

You can whatif yourself into a deep, deep bog. There are unknown variables, and the answer to the question must rely on them.

You can put a big divisor on this, however, with the fact that a nuclear winter trumps most cards, dystopic science fiction scenarios notwithstanding.

Re:The other real enemy: logic (1)

Synerg1y (2169962) | about a year and a half ago | (#42763087)

Russia or China? Have you been under a rock? It doesn't seem likely, but isn't war all about surprise? So rather than live in fear of that, the government builds missile defense systems.

Re:The other real enemy: logic (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | about a year and a half ago | (#42763227)

Both have too much to lose. At one point, they appeared reasonable, but it was never reasonable that Russia would have attacked us directly (appearances aside), they played a better-intel/counter-intel game, not a better-military game.

More likely if N. Korea, or possibly Iran get a missile system in place, we might have a group desperate and nuts enough to do this (not so sure about Iran in either category), but for the most part, we currently don't have a serious threat due to lose of a trade partner, or risking a way-too-severe counterattack.

Re:The other real enemy: logic (1)

steviesteveo12 (2755637) | about a year and a half ago | (#42763309)

I think you get to point to 60s-80s movie villains *or* suggest that the other guy has been living under a rock.

Re:The other real enemy: logic (1)

alen (225700) | about a year and a half ago | (#42763445)

we have the best submarines that will sink any ships equipped with large amounts of cruise missiles
we have our own cruise missiles that can destroy the bases where the cruise missiles are based

That's not math (5, Informative)

jader3rd (2222716) | about a year and a half ago | (#42762907)

That's not math, that's known as attrition.
Sometimes you don't need the better soldiers, you just need more soldiers.

Re:That's not math (5, Insightful)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about a year and a half ago | (#42763109)

Quantity has a quality all of its own.

Re:That's not math (2)

luis_a_espinal (1810296) | about a year and a half ago | (#42763111)

That's not math, that's known as attrition.

Stop. You are making sense.

Re:That's not math (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about a year and a half ago | (#42763155)

"That's not math, that's known as attrition."

Um, yeah. Attrition is math. Simple addition and subtraction, but it's still math.

Re:That's not math (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42763213)

yeah i thought this would be about math not brain dead strategy of attrition.

Or these days are lowering the subject of math to encompass a basic this is more and more is better/worse - in which case we can say 'the real enemy is math' on pretty much any topic u like.

the real defence is the enemies faith in retribution

Re:That's not math (1)

Nutria (679911) | about a year and a half ago | (#42763451)

Sometimes you don't need the better soldiers, you just need more soldiers.

That's why European leaders that had more than cheese for brains wanted US short and intermediate range nukes in their countries: because we knew that "we" couldn't and didn't want to field a bigger military than "them".

Thus, nukes were the "equalizer".

"Kill the Archer" (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42762909)

If you kill the archer before he shoots, his arrow is no longer a threat to you. This has been part of US Navy doctrine for some time.

Yes, before you fire 100 missiles we've killed you (5, Insightful)

raymorris (2726007) | about a year and a half ago | (#42763059)

Enemy plan:
Fire 100 "cheap missiles" to get intercepted
Wait for the US to use up it's anti-missile capabilities shooting those down
Fire more, more better missiles to hit target.

What would really happen
Fire 6 "cheap" missiles
Die in a hail of US missiles you have no defense against

Re:Yes, before you fire 100 missiles we've killed (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#42763189)

Or they launch six each from many small vessels and land based launchers. Launch the expensive ones mixed in with the cheap stuff.

Re:Yes, before you fire 100 missiles we've killed (1)

avandesande (143899) | about a year and a half ago | (#42763399)

Making missiles en-mass that can go half way around the world isn't cheap.

Re:"Kill the Archer" (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#42763099)

I think the idea here would be to have many archers.

Not like disguising fighting vessels as merchants or fishing vessels is anything new.

Navy Fire Control Computers Know Math (5, Interesting)

EmagGeek (574360) | about a year and a half ago | (#42762921)

Here's a video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mpkTHyfr0pM [youtube.com]

(seriously, watch the series. It's pretty amazing)

Math? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42762925)

I was hoping for some sort of dynamical systems result. Instead it is about having more missiles?

Exhausting happens at both parties (1)

Skinkie (815924) | about a year and a half ago | (#42762927)

If party A would send (all - 1) their conventional weapons, imagine what happens if the rocket launch would indeed destroy everything foreign because the foreign missile defense is exhausted. Now think of what happens with the forces that are actually on route, how should the country be defended against them? This is an optimization problem is both cases: taking causalities because of potential worse problems, or exhausting everything and no defense.

Yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42762933)

You could fire so many nukes that even if they were shot down, the left over radioactive material poisons the seas and kills all life on earth. But that's expensive.

Re:Yes (1)

YodasEvilTwin (2014446) | about a year and a half ago | (#42762977)

Not really. There aren't remotely enough nukes in existence to do that.

Re:Yes (1)

PIBM (588930) | about a year and a half ago | (#42763113)

A nuke that gets shot down can explode by nuclear explosion before being destroyed by the enemy. Think about 50 000 nuclear explosions mid sky. I'm pretty sure that it would be pretty close to killing all life on earth (I know, some extremophiles would not be affected, whatever, humans would have a hard time.)

Re:Yes (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year and a half ago | (#42763373)

Depending on the type of nuke, it can be fairly difficult to accidentally set one off by shooting it down. More likely the conventional explosives in the nuke will go off in an uncontrolled manner and spray a relatively small amount of radioactive material on the ground.

I'm also not sure why you would have 50,000 nuclear explosions mid sky when there's only about 17,000 nukes still in existence, with fewer than a quarter of them active. Russia is estimated to have the most with about 8500 warheads of which fewer than 1800 are active.

Re:Yes (1)

fredrated (639554) | about a year and a half ago | (#42763253)

Some think that wiping out all human life would essentially be the equivalent.

Simply put: does strategy win? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42762937)

Yes....

But don't call it math.

Numerical superiority, not "math"... (1)

Dystopian Rebel (714995) | about a year and a half ago | (#42762943)

And I expect that a highly numerate society would understand the probabilities well enough not to wage open war against a numerically superior adversary.

Hence the "global economy" that we have today.

Entropy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42762955)

Without becoming a hyper-power, then this is correct. But looking at 9/11, those events were preventable--without exhausting resources. It occurred because resources weren't used wisely--and to some extent, resources and intelligence were ignored entirely due to partisan politics.

This is exactly why... (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42762957)

we need the Death Star that Obama refuses to build.

Re:This is exactly why... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42763135)

and lasers, lots of lasers.

That's retarded... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42762959)

Math also wins against pasta strainers. Think about it. Could there be so much pasta in the world that all the available strainers would be FULL ?

Re:That's retarded... (1)

Red Herring (47817) | about a year and a half ago | (#42763167)

As long as there are Pastafarians in the world, his Noodley Goodness shall keep the strainers always full, but never running over.

Math has nothing on His Noodleyness.

Math? (5, Informative)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year and a half ago | (#42762963)

Is this what we have degenerated to? When I read the title, I thought, "wow, someone has done the calculations to find the weak spots in the trajectories of the defense missiles or can calculate live the precise way to avoid them."

No. When they say math, they mean, "a lot." Nothing more mathematical than that. Shoot a lot of projectiles at the target, and one of them will get through. We've degenerated mathematically past the level of a two-year-old and down to that of a rat or something. Chickens can even distinguish between 'a lot' and 'a little.'

Re:Math? (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year and a half ago | (#42763043)

The point holds, though. Interceptors are highly sophisticated devices - they need to exactly hit a small target in three dimensions, while both interceptor and target are moving at great velocity. Your basic attack missile, on the other hand, can be as simple as a garage-made rocket with a chunk of fertilizer on the end. For every interceptor one side makes, even a comparatively low-tech and poorly-funded attacker could build many missiles.

OK PLEASE STOP WITH THE DAMN WHAT IF POSTS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42762985)

What if aliens come and cut the planet in half? What if my tuna sandwich doesn't taste good? What if i actually ask a worthwhile question?

Seriously, what the fuck do you think would happen if we get attacked by an overwhelming force?

Re:OK PLEASE STOP WITH THE DAMN WHAT IF POSTS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42763179)

What if the "what if" posts stopped?

tilt the machine and put in another quarter (1)

swschrad (312009) | about a year and a half ago | (#42763245)

seriously, folks, dump the game and replay.

There will be no second wave attack. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42762993)

Nations monitor other nations to know their capabilities. When during the first attack one observes missile sites not being deployed, then they become the highest value targets for a counter attack. What you are describing is strategy, not math.

First post - not going to bother with a login (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42763003)

But I can speak with some accuracy on this. What the author is referring to is called a Saturation attack. The notion that "All that has to get through is one." We also have what are called SWARM attacks in the small boat arena. Tom Clancy discussed it in one of his older books - Russia fired off some three digit number of missiles, some fell short, some defense in depth tactics took some out, flares and chaff did their job, but finally a couple hit. We did the same thing in WWII well in advance of the JDAM - drop enough tonnage around a target, something will hit.

What gets wildly irritating is when WE have a 99.87 success rate with ordnance-on-target, the only thing that gets any press is the .13. Go sell your ad space, media folks. Folks gotta pay their mortgages...

missle command (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42763009)

I've played enough Missle Command to know you can only defend one city.

It's not about the long term survivability. (4, Insightful)

Red Herring (47817) | about a year and a half ago | (#42763015)

In the case of AEGIS and related defenses, the goal is not necessarily to be able to absorb/defend against anything and everything that the enemy throws against you. The goal is to survive long enough to turn the attacking launch site into a glass parking lot (or a steaming hole in the water) before they can destroy your offensive assets. In the mentioned case of Iran, I expect the goal would be to absorb one or two 'provocative' attacks. If there was full out attack, though, I'm pretty sure they would not have the opportunity to launch all the missiles...

Why so many of these stupid questions on /. over the last few days? I feel like I'm reading Digg. And not the good Digg.

Sound theory, but in practice... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42763017)

Sure, running your opponent out of ammo is a valid strategy. On the other hand, you have to maintain those older weapons on top of maintaining the ones you want to sneak past, not an easy job. Plus you're against ships designed to be able to operate over long periods without replenishing stores anyhow, so it's going to take a lot of weapons to burn through. Plus the US will be sure to begin retaliating as soon as the first birds are shot down, so you'll have to worry about defending the launch sites you're holding in reserve.

This is exactly why we planned massive salvos in the Cold War, saturation beats duration.

Evil with trumph over Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42763035)

Because Slashdot is dumb.

Not exactly new (2)

compro01 (777531) | about a year and a half ago | (#42763083)

Aegis was state of the art, the best SAM system yet devised, but it had one major weakness: Tico carried only ninety-six SM-2 surface-to-air missiles; there were one hundred forty incoming Kingfish. The computer had not been programmed to think about that.

Re:Not exactly new (2)

NouberNou (1105915) | about a year and a half ago | (#42763283)

Possibly the best chapter in that whole damn book.

But lets get realistic here, the intention of the AEGIS ABM system was NOT to counter the Russians or China, who we know full well could overwhelm our ABM systems. It is to counter "rogue" states that will have smaller, less capable ballistic missile programs and might be "unstable" and attack with a few of them. It is to prevent the people/states that might be crazy enough to sacrifice their entire populations just to get in a spiteful blow to the US. If we can prevent their nukes from hitting us, then we have no reason to then counter and destroy millions of their people. That is the reasoning behind the modern ABM system. It is not Safeguard or SDI, or even the Moscow ABM system. It is meant to prevent crazy launches or accidental launches.

It doesn't matter (1)

Baloroth (2370816) | about a year and a half ago | (#42763103)

If you can stop a significant fraction of the missiles, that still gives you a massive reduction in total damage, provided of course your enemy doesn't have so many weapons even a few percentage points can wipe out everything. And besides, it still gives an advantage even in that case: if you need to fire all your missiles, and you need to fire some of them later on, that means the defending country has time to retaliate (so you can't rely on first strike-advantage), plus all their missiles will still hit, which may well mean you never get to fire the later missiles after the system is overwhelmed. And the defender would retaliate, and quickly, make no mistake.

Anyways, missile defense was never about a full-scale war. It was always gamesmanship and preventing smaller powers with only a dozen or so missiles from threatening anyone and everyone (countries like North Korea, potentially).

Um, really? (2, Informative)

Zcar (756484) | about a year and a half ago | (#42763105)

Ever since the advent of anti-ship missiles, a big part of naval surface warfare tactics has been managing to get enough anti-ship missiles on target at the same time to overwhelm the target ships' defenses, so this is pretty much "Duh!"

Also, AEGIS is a 1970s naval air defense technology for protecting against anti-ship missiles and aircraft. It's only recently had an ABM capability added. It is true, as I understand it from public sources, that the VLS systems most often used with AEGIS are difficult at best to resupply at sea and pretty much is never done.

Yes Math wins! (1)

OzPeter (195038) | about a year and a half ago | (#42763117)

After the defense systems of a naval vessel get overwhelmed and it goes down in flames, the country that owns that vessel stomps big-time on the attacker.

War isn't a "No loss evan" scenario .. its a question of balancing resources against potential threats. And given that the military spending of the US is around double that of all its "enemies" combined - who the hell is going to try to pull off a stunt as proposed??!?!?!?!

can target discrimination win? (1)

swschrad (312009) | about a year and a half ago | (#42763123)

imagine Nut Korea shoots off 43 Rong Dong missles, 16 Ding Dong noisemakers, and is fuelling six nukes. the Rong Dongs will get halfway to nowhere and hit the water. the Ding Dongs spark and arc and in the end do nothing. the nukes would be the real threat after the radars clear on the Aegis cruisers.

if you get a look at any weapon, it will have definite characteristics that are generally repeated with every shot. it is moderately well known that repeatable data can be programmed for recall, and since the US seems to be around semi-announced tests with snooperships, we should have some target discrimination rules in the missle system on the Aegis.

if something gets close enough to the ship to be thought a threat, it will be taken out. that should leave a hold full of Standard missles for the nuclear missles.

I'm still not digging a bomb shelter.

The only... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42763127)

The only winning move is not to play.

Cold War scenario (1)

SirGarlon (845873) | about a year and a half ago | (#42763129)

'Think about it â" could we someday see a scenario where American forces at sea with a fixed amount of defensive countermeasures facing an enemy with large numbers of cruise and ballistic weapons that have the potential to simply overwhelm them?

This is the Cold War scenario with a couple of string substitutions: s/land/sea/g and s/artillery/missiles/g. The US spent over 40 years developing strategies to counter that scenario. Rest assured, they have a smart answer, or rather several of them. I believe a nuclear first strike is on the short list of possibilities.

The only way to win is not to play (1)

scorp1us (235526) | about a year and a half ago | (#42763139)

War Games got it right.

Dumb article name (1)

Zaphod The 42nd (1205578) | about a year and a half ago | (#42763149)

Enemy isn't math. Its brute force / overwhelming numbers. Dumb article name is dumb.

Red Storm Rising (1)

lax-goalie (730970) | about a year and a half ago | (#42763151)

This was the premise of the first naval battle in Clancy's Red Storm Rising. TFA is neither original nor insightful. Even armchair strategists understand the concept of attrition.

Re:Red Storm Rising (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42763453)

Absolutely correct, the Russians use a mass bomabardment of older missle types to screen incoming higher tech weaponry allowing the US forces to waste precious defensive firepower on equipment that was barely a threat so the better weaponry would have a much higher success rate against the now almost defensless US forces.

It is a well thought out and enacted scenario in that book, which is wholly accurate in this modern age, why else does the Iron Dome system in Israel triage all incoming targets it is tracking in order to determine landing location and do the math of "Is spot X more costly to replace than spot Y? Yes, defend X."

Saturation (1)

zelbinion (442226) | about a year and a half ago | (#42763157)

I've always thought several thousand simple, relatively stupid, cheap "cruise missiles" could pretty easily defeat a carrier battle group. When I say "cruise missiles" I'm talking about pilot-less drones that are really small air craft (could even be built of wood) with a warhead aboard. You wouldn't even need them to be completely autonomous, though a auto-pilot would probably be a good idea. You'd need a satellite up-link to control them (and to diminish the possibility of someone jamming your control signals) but it seems like it wouldn't be very expensive to build a cheap small aircraft (again, wood would be okay) with a simple air-cooled piston engine and a propeller, a remote control system with a simple auto pilot, and, say, a 500-pound free-fall bomb attached. Build many thousands of these for the same cost of a few modern fighter planes, and then fly them en-mass at a target. Sure, the combination of defensive aircraft and anti-missile systems would knock-down the vast majority of your "cruise missiles", but it would only take a small number getting through and dive-bombing the target with a few well-placed bombs to destroy the target. This seems so much less expensive than building a modern air force/navy/etc. I don't understand why other nations haven't tried it.

Re:Saturation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42763229)

Its harder to hide 'building many thousands of these'. It is also a lot of time effort energy and materials to make them and, especially if it was the us you were attacking, the moment a few hundred are launched, a counterattack would overwhelm almost any who would try this tactic.

Wrong question: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42763171)

The limitations make sense if you realize the true purpose of 'missile defense'. The true purpose is to take care of the residual missiles surviving a US first strike.

math? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42763183)

Let me get this clear....

there are systems in the sea that are meant to track and shoot down missiles and stuff. They suddenly assume that there could be more missiles fly past one or more of these systems, creating the possibility of the system(s) being unable to track and shoot 1 or more missiles down. And they're blaming math. As if, there should be some way that mathematics will be able to produce a faster physical device, capable of physically moving faster.

My analogy is going to be a football player that is to come up with a way to successfully defend against 2 men, or maybe 3. He sits down, and runs all sorts of probability on the size, speed and agility of each of the 3 men, and is able to figure out a way to manage them all. Now you're thinking of his inability to defend against more men, of all different sizes and ability, and finding him unable. But you're blaming math, and not physical reality.

Why is it that technology is expected to be able to solve any problem. Why wouldn't this problem be solved with, rather than math, some other shared component of the universe.... maybe, oh I don't know, civility? Everyone on the gas, no one on the brake.

Ever fought an anthill? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42763191)

Don't try... Next question.

David L Parnas (1)

maksa (2830685) | about a year and a half ago | (#42763235)

David L Parnas (yes, that one) wrote a famous piece on the feasibility of Star Wars (pdf ahead): http://www.cs.helsinki.fi/u/przybils/courses/CBD06/papers/p1326-parnas.pdf [helsinki.fi] I don't think that anything has changed. Computers are faster, technology is better, but the problem is still equally complex.

Really complex problem (1)

fermion (181285) | about a year and a half ago | (#42763247)

In missile defense it is a matter of calculating capability of enemy and acceptable losses.

In the recent example of Israel and it's alleged shield, the success depending on the ability to acquire a threat quickly, access the target, and make a judgement to destroy or ignore. Based on information in the media, a enemy who could launch a hundred missile quickly from diverse location could overwhelm the system, take it out if locations were known, and then be free to attack targets. A country like Iran could do this, easily.

Protecting against global threats using ICBM is more complex but possible. It requires the ability to detect and identify launches in real time, then respond and destroy threats during the boost phase. Even so there is a danger of momentum carrying debris to populated areas and causing destruction and fatalities. One way this can be done is with airborne lasers. This could potentially defend the US against a country like Korea with a few old style ICBM.

If we can't destroy a threat during boost phase, then all is probably lost. Once payload is destroyed, there could be a hundred projectiles, one which is live, and no way to distinguish. We would spend all our resources destroying half of then, and the love projectile takes out Denver.

Of course none of this accomplishes the faith based fantasy put forth by US conservatives of protection against the reds. That takes diplomacy of the order shown by JFK.

Return Address (1)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | about a year and a half ago | (#42763249)

Given that the US has enough nukes to melt the world twice, any large threat even before arriving will be getting quite the return visit.

I still occasionally wonder if Mecca is on the US doomsday nuke 'em all list...

Defense Triggers (1)

number17 (952777) | about a year and a half ago | (#42763255)

I am certain that the military on both sides have looked into what triggers the defense system and built several types of decoys. Decoys that fire in parallel and others that fire in sequence. Does anybody know how easy is it to determine if an incoming attack actually has a payload, and how much delay that adds?

Near inexhaustible defense weapons (1)

Endophage (1685212) | about a year and a half ago | (#42763263)

If a defense system could be built with something like lasers, you could defend against far more missiles than current countermeasures. You could probably exhaust the aggressors supply of missiles. Basically, make the ammo small enough that you can carry an enormous amount of it. In the case of said ammo being electricity, we already have nuclear reactors on ships that run for a very long time while only requiring a comparatively small amount of fuel to be carried.

This is why I don't read slashdot (1)

evilviper (135110) | about a year and a half ago | (#42763275)

This kind of crap is why I hardly read slashdot anymore, after 15 years of daily reading and tens of thousands of comments...

Could a potential adversary fire off older weapons that are not as accurate, causing a defensive response that exhausts all available missile interceptors so more advanced weapons with better accuracy can deliver the crushing blow?

Sure! That could happen... if our missile defense systems are designed by morons.

Otherwise, no, that wouldn't happen, because a defensive system will be perfectly capable of distinguishing between threats and dummies. Hell, the hard part of missile defense systems is making sure they don't accidentally take out friendly jets, so they'll already be designed with the kind of intelligence they need to make this distinction.

In addition, it could be a completely non-nonsensical question depending on the defense system used... If we're talking about lasers, anything with a nuclear generator has unlimited ammo. If we're talking about rail-guns, then the ammo is extremely tiny, and a huge amount can be carried aboard-ship.

If we're talking about current CIWS systems, then in the list of all the limitations the system has, the need to CARRY ENOUGH AMMO doesn't even make the top-5 actual concerns.

And let's not forget that the DEPLOYMENT of such systems might just be fairly important... Ships can START MOVING when they're being inundated with incoming missiles. They can CALL FOR HELP and get it. They can LAUNCH AN OFFENSIVE ATTACK against the source of these incoming missiles as soon as the barrage is spotted lifting off, over the horizon.

Slashdot... news for 5-year olds.

Red Storm Rising (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42763281)

Red Storm Rising gives a good description of a hypothetical sea battle.

Enough incoming missiles will eventually allow a hit. That was part of the driving force behind MIRV warheads. A single booster and half a dozen or more warheads is more effective than one booster and one warhead.

Cruise missile AI is getting better all the time, as are their stealth factor and penetration aids. I would venture to say that a US task force with a 100 mile bubble will probably have time launch one strike before the situation becomes very dire. I wouldn't want to be involved with either force in that sort of battle. Once it starts, the task force might be sunk, but I can guarantee that the opposing force would be nothing but scattered dust and ash within the week.

Shit's to scary to even comtemplate.

Enemy has to do math as well (2)

backslashdot (95548) | about a year and a half ago | (#42763311)

The enemy would need to have a massive ICBM missile force. That is not very feasible. How many of our enemies have a budget for that? I don't think even China has that kind of money .. and if they could allocate such a budget .. corrupt politicians would allow only a small percent of it to go into actual weapon acquisition .. they same way they take money off highway contracts. I don't see how any of our credible adversaries could organize a massive missile force coordination while we remain clueless.

I think you mean attrition instead of math (1)

rdorn (2729595) | about a year and a half ago | (#42763323)

And yes, we're already losing a war of attrition. When terrorist attacks that cost hundres of thousands of dollars can spur a trillion dollar response... how long can the US keep that up?

Always have a shaved knuckle in the hole (1)

sunking2 (521698) | about a year and a half ago | (#42763329)

And they're called nukes. Everyone has always known that a single carrier group is vulnerable. The question is not if you can, but what happens if you do. In the end nobody wants the gloves to come off.

Sure, Its happened before (kinda) (2)

ClassicASP (1791116) | about a year and a half ago | (#42763357)

During World War 2 the Germans had WAY more superior tanks. They had better armor, better accuracy, better range, delivered a more explosive package, plus the soldiers driving them were very well trained in tactics. They even had better camoflauge.

American tanks sucked by comparison. They were easy to spot, they had very poor armor, their accuracy was crap, range was crap, and the soldiers driving them were dunces by comparrison.

But we still overwhelmed them and won with sheer numbers. Our tanks sucked, but we had a crapload of them.

Warhead type is immaterial (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42763409)

"Today, America has a sizable sea-based system, dubbed AEGIS, that has been deployed to defend against rogue states missiles, both conventional and nuclear."

So a missile interceptor can hit a missile carrying either type of payload! Amazing,

Real enemy: It just doesn't work (1, Insightful)

bigsexyjoe (581721) | about a year and a half ago | (#42763435)

Since the 1960s until the present day, missile defense has been a hot topic

TRANSLATION: We've been trying to get it to work for 50 fucking years but we can't seem to get two object moving faster than bullets to collide.

That's the real problem. They can barely even shoot down those first cheap missiles. They can't compensate for evasive action at all. It's been nonsense for the last fifty years and will be for the next fifty years.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?