10 May 2001.

 - ABM -

In July 2000 SPIN wrote; (War, ABMs, Liberty)

The rogue states in the world are raising the level of anxiety over nuclear armed ICBM's.  We are advised that those fears are causing the US Federal government to reconsider it's ABM (Antiballistic Missile) technology options.
Now it seems BUSH has taken steps towards implementation.   But oy kevalt!   The solution that requires that the nuclear armed offensive missile should be "taken out" shortly after launch is almost certainly the most expensive, and not necessarily the best option available.  It should not be necessary to spend that many billions on an ABM.

The reason given for hitting the rocket shortly after launch is that once the ballistic missile is "ballistic" (coasting along in space) it can "mirv" (split into multiple bombs) and also send out decoys or "chaff".  ("Chaff" is the W.W.II term given to the radar countermeasure of dropping aluminum foil out of an airplane.  The foil's strong radar echoes acted as a decoy & created ambiguity about the position of the aircraft.)

In July 2000 SPIN also wrote:

After all, an ABM system is just very smart software riding on a rocket.  It requires very smart software to differentiate between the decoys and steer the ABM rocket towards the incoming Ballistic Missile.  The rocket hardware is old technology, it has been around since the 1940's.  The most important part of the ABM system is the software.
SPIN does not resile from that position.  For every decoy, there is a killer application.  Put another way, an effective detection system would require the decoy to be so much like a bomb that it might as well be a bomb.

Some examples of theoretical detection systems spring to mind.

Probably there would be an outer layer of defense (entering the atmosphere  the bomb would be 200,000 feet high and perhaps 100 miles short of it's target.) and an inner layer of defense (50,000 feet up and only 5 or 10 miles short of the target.).  The outer layer should be designed to get 99% of the bombs, and the inner layer should take out 99% of the survivors of the outer layer.

  1. The outer layer should look at the atmospheric drag & radar profiles of the bombs and decoys.  Unless these integrated to a near identical signature, a detection system could integrate those differences & take out the bomb.
  2. What about some sort of gamma ray "telescope" to see which decoys are radioactive?
  3. What about intelligent optical systems?  Perhaps geostationary space based?  Perhaps mounted in the nose of the ABM?  Perhaps sent up on a rocket when "condition red" is sounded?
  4. Closer in, most decoys would "burn out" like a meteor.  So a final defense layer could take out any survivors at 50,000 feet.
SPIN doubts that they would be more effective than a "home based" system that would take out the re-entering missile.  And home based systems would be comparatively cheap and could be scattered everywhere.

Expensive launch platforms for taking out ABM's in their boost phase make great toys for the military.  Maybe some of those aerospace companies & their shareholders need the money more than working US taxpayers.


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