World Affairs Brief, May 19, 2017 Commentary and Insights on a Troubled World.
Copyright Joel Skousen. Partial quotations with attribution permitted. Cite source as Joel Skousen’s World Affairs Brief (http://www.worldaffairsbrief.com).
US MISSILE DEFENSE LACKING
Finally, another article on the latest missile defense technology is pertinent to the US ability to stop Kim Jong-Un from following through with his limited ability to send a missile to Hawaii or Alaska. The British Daily Mail takes a look at the new “state-of-the-art Navy vessel that’s designed to shoot down Kim Jong-Un’s ballistic missiles before they start World War Three.” There are errors in this article, which I will point out.
A state-of-the-art navy vessel designed to intercept ballistic missiles is set to be tested later this month. The MV Pacific Collector detects the missile via GPS [This is in error. GPS doesn’t detect missile launches, although other military satellites can.] and shoots out a vehicle which smashes into a warhead in mid-flight to disable it. Known as ground-based mid-course defense, the ship is in port at Aloha Tower in Hawaii for a key upcoming ballistic missile defense test.
The news comes as North Korea test-launched a ballistic missile that flew for half an hour and reached an altitude of 1,240 miles before landing in the Sea of Japan – a flight pattern that could indicate a new type of missile.
The only thing new about this is that US experts are saying this latest ballistic missile is the first fully home developed rocket by North Korea that doesn’t rely on foreign rocket engines. How they can tell that from photographs or rocket telemetry is a mystery to me.
Admiral Harry Harris, head of US Pacific Command, warned Congress that the country’s leader, Kim Jong Un, ‘is clearly in a position to threaten Hawaii today’. Currently, the US has 36 ground-based interceptors placed in Alaska and California to theoretically protect the US from a nuclear missile attack. That number will increase to 44 this year.
However, in December, a Pentagon weapons testing office rated the $40 billion system as having low reliability. The ground-based system has a record of nine out of 17 successful intercepts since 1999, or a 53 percent success rate.
One of the problems with this kind of missile system is that it uses a “kinetic” warhead— essentially a big hunk of highly dense material (depleted Uranium, etc.) which has to make direct contact with the incoming missile to destroy it. It is not an explosive warhead that can disable a target even during a near miss. [like Russia’s – editor]
I suspect the US continues using these kinds of “hit vehicles” because they don’t want to really stop a pre-emptive strike by Russia and China, who are developing maneuvering warheads. I do think, however, that current US ABM interceptors could stop several of North Korea’s plain Jane ballistic missiles.