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Will the US Missile Defense System Fail?

Written by on Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

Nukes. They’re always in the backs of our minds. Whenever there’s a new international conflict, the first thing that always comes to your mind is, “What if somebody launches a nuke?”

We all ask ourselves that question, and we are pretty sure we know the answer: “The other guys will launch their nukes in retaliation.” Modern warfare really boils down to the simple motto, “If I go down I’m taking you with me.”


Image source: Missiledefense.wordpress.com

The only way out of that mutually-assured destruction is to figure out how to stop nukes before they explode over one of your major cities. A lot of different nations have nuclear missiles, but nobody really has the hardware for a competent missile defense system. The first country to develop a immovable object that can counter a nuclear-charged unstoppable force will have a major advantage.

There are basically only two options for taking out a nuclear missile. The first option is to nip it in the bud, so to speak, by attacking the nuclear missile program of other countries, kind of like what the US has been doing in the Middle East. That’s pretty effective, but the only problem with it is that it requires you to muck through complicated political affairs. You’re not going to make many friends when you force your way into another country and forcibly shut down their weapon facilities.

The only other solution is to shoot nukes out of the sky. That’s where modern governments have been siphoning most of their cash, but the tricky thing is that we’re having a hard time figuring out when and how to bring down an incoming nuke.

Missile Defense

Image source: Lockheedmartin.com

There are basically three different launch phases of an ICBM. The first phase, the boost phase, is when the missile launches itself into space. After that you’ve got the midcourse phase as the missile propels itself through space. Finally, the reentry phase is when the missile returns to Earth, targeting a city full of terrified people.

The US has been working on ways to take down ICBMs in the boost phase. It a logical approach — wouldn’t you want to take down a nuclear missile as soon as possible? Unfortunately, a report by the nonpartisan National Research Council found that the window of time in the boost phase is simply too small (about four minutes) to reliably take down a nuclear missile. What makes that news so depressing is that it comes after the US has already thrown truckloads of money at boost-phase missile research.

That just goes to show you — if you’re going to get involved in some sort of expensive military program, your best bet is to hire top-notch experts like Strike Fighter Consulting Inc. to make sure that you don’t get in over your head. If the US had spent more time researching boost-phase missiles rather than leaping to prototype tests then they probably could have saved a lot of taxpayer dollars.

Now the only question is where the US should go from here. Should the DoD stubbornly ignore the report and continue testing boost-phase intercept technology under the hopes that they prove the nay-sayers wrong, or would it be better off burning even more cash into a Reagan-esque Star Wars defense strategy that can shoot missiles down during the midcourse phase?

If you want advice about the world of military aviation, there’s no better people to turn to than men and women who have sat in the cockpit and flown some of the world’s most advanced aircraft. With over 50 current and ex-warfighters on call, Strike Fighter Consulting Inc. can give you access to up-to-date, first-hand technical and tactical expertise.

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