Debunking the 'missile defence' myth Watch

Palmyra
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#1
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#1
After North Korea's recent ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile) test, General Lori Robinson (commander of NORAD) expressed "unwavering... confidence that we can fully defend the U.S. against this ballistic missile threat".

The United States's national missile defence system - the ground-based midcourse defence (GMD) - has cost $40 billion to date. Its record in intercept tests is woeful: it has only successfully intercepted (heavily role-played) targets in 10/18 tests since 1999. This poor record, barely over 50% success rate, is despite the heavily-scripted conditions in which its tests operate (e.g. knowing the flight-path and flight-location in advance, having radars and intercept systems set up in certain positions to maximise chances of success, and the target missiles having no countermeasures - e.g. decoys). The GMD only successfully intercepted a ICBM-type target in a test launch for the first time ever in May 2017. A 2016 assessment by the Pentagon indicated that the GMD had a "limited" capability of defending the U.S.:

The Regional/Theater BMDS demonstrates a limited capability to defend the U.S... areas of responsibility for small numbers of medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missile threats (1,000 to 4,000 km)
There are currently 44 interceptors planned to be in force in the U.S. by the end of 2017. The Pentagon's current "shot doctrine" entails launching as many as 5 interceptors per ICBM target. Not only does this mean that the system could be easily overwhelmed, but at a cost of $70m per interceptor the system is also very cost-ineffective.

North Korea (etc) could easily defeat U.S. missile defence systems through the following measures:

1) Solid-fuel missiles - these reduce launch preparation time, thus reducing the time the U.S. has to identify hostile launches.
2) Mobile/SLBM - these also make hostile launches harder to identify by not requiring fixed launch sites.
3) Salvo launches - there is consensus among all levels of the military/intelligence communities that the current missile defence systems could easily be overwhelmed by multiple hostile missiles.
4) Decoys and countermeasures - distinguishing between a real and several 'decoy' warheads is something the GMD has not been tested in, and basic countermeasures have already been developed by North Korea.

Joe Cirincione (arms control expert) summarises the US's vulnerability:
There is not a missile defence weapon in existence that could offer a reliable protection against a determined North Korean attack with multiple missiles, countermeasures and efforts to suppress the defences.
Even if missile defence systems were credible, however, there would still be strong reasons not to attempt to intercept hostile missile launches:
Even if the stars were aligned however, attempting to shoot down a non-threatening missile test would be hugely provocative act and supply invaluable data to adversaries… A miss, which is more likely than an intercept, would be embarrassing and undermine confidence in U.S. defenses. [Kingston Reif - director for disarmament and threat reduction policy at the Arms Control Association]
To conclude, there is no such thing as a 'missile defence' system that has been proven to reliably operate in real-world conditions, thus the prevailing myth to the contrary creates a false sense of security. This myth will only continue to lead to 1) more billions spent on missile defence, and 2) bad decision-making re: foreign threats such as North Korea (based on a misguided confidence in missile defence capability).

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HucktheForde
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iron dome worked very well didnt it
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SomeWelshGuy123
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Why are you talking about NORAD? Why do I care about the North American missile defence system?
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Divide Et Impera
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The US failed to land over 60% of their tomahawk missiles in their designated target zone in Syria.

NK will not nuke another country, because they know that they will be glassed.

They'll just wait till they have a capable nuclear arsenal with a capable missile system. North Koreans are the good guys.
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Wired_1800
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(Original post by Palmyra)
After North Korea's recent ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile) test, General Lori Robinson (commander of NORAD) expressed "unwavering... confidence that we can fully defend the U.S. against this ballistic missile threat".

The United States's national missile defence system - the ground-based midcourse defence (GMD) - has cost $40 billion to date. Its record in intercept tests is woeful: it has only successfully intercepted (heavily role-played) targets in 10/18 tests since 1999. This poor record, barely over 50% success rate, is despite the heavily-scripted conditions in which its tests operate (e.g. knowing the flight-path and flight-location in advance, having radars and intercept systems set up in certain positions to maximise chances of success, and the target missiles having no countermeasures - e.g. decoys). The GMD only successfully intercepted a ICBM-type target in a test launch for the first time ever in May 2017. A 2016 assessment by the Pentagon indicated that the GMD had a "limited" capability of defending the U.S.:



There are currently 44 interceptors planned to be in force in the U.S. by the end of 2017. The Pentagon's current "shot doctrine" entails launching as many as 5 interceptors per ICBM target. Not only does this mean that the system could be easily overwhelmed, but at a cost of $70m per interceptor the system is also very cost-ineffective.

North Korea (etc) could easily defeat U.S. missile defence systems through the following measures:

1) Solid-fuel missiles - these reduce launch preparation time, thus reducing the time the U.S. has to identify hostile launches.
2) Mobile/SLBM - these also make hostile launches harder to identify by not requiring fixed launch sites.
3) Salvo launches - there is consensus among all levels of the military/intelligence communities that the current missile defence systems could easily be overwhelmed by multiple hostile missiles.
4) Decoys and countermeasures - distinguishing between a real and several 'decoy' warheads is something the GMD has not been tested in, and basic countermeasures have already been developed by North Korea.

Joe Cirincione (arms control expert) summarises the US's vulnerability:


Even if missile defence systems were credible, however, there would still be strong reasons not to attempt to intercept hostile missile launches:


To conclude, there is no such thing as a 'missile defence' system that has been proven to reliably operate in real-world conditions, thus the prevailing myth to the contrary creates a false sense of security. This myth will only continue to lead to 1) more billions spent on missile defence, and 2) bad decision-making re: foreign threats such as North Korea (based on a misguided confidence in missile defence capability).

What should people do to protect themselves?

I believe that NK are within their rights and should develop full nuclear weapons programme.
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Tempest II
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Intercepting a bullet with a bullet isn't ever going to be easy, especially when you consider the sheer velocity that ICBMs travel at. Air & ground based direct energy weapons will surely have more success in the future.

The most effective way to stop the DPRK's nukes is destroy them on the ground using VLO assets like the B-2, F-35, F-22 etc as they currently don't have a sizable arsenal. However, the more time they have to construct more weapons then the harder this task will be.
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Drewski
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(Original post by Palmyra)
This myth will only continue to lead to 1) more billions spent on missile defence
There's a moment in the timeline of everything where that thing didn't work.

Later on in their timelines, they did work, because people kept on developing them, kept on making improvements.


The world developed an awful weapon. The world owes it to itself to make something that renders it obsolete.
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Palmyra
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(Original post by HucktheForde)
iron dome worked very well didnt it
The Iron Dome system is deigned to protect against short range rockets, not long range ballistic missiles travelling at magnitudes greater speed. In addition, the rockets the Iron Dome system faces are primitive and unguided, hence most of them don't even need to be engaged as they land in open land or the sea.

Two very different kettle of fish.
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Palmyra
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(Original post by SomeWelshGuy123)
Why are you talking about NORAD? Why do I care about the North American missile defence system?
Because the U.S. does not only protect its own territory, but its systems are also used to protect NATO (ergo Europe).
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Palmyra
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(Original post by Tempest II)
Intercepting a bullet with a bullet isn't ever going to be easy, especially when you consider the sheer velocity that ICBMs travel at. Air & ground based direct energy weapons will surely have more success in the future.

The most effective way to stop the DPRK's nukes is destroy them on the ground using VLO assets like the B-2, F-35, F-22 etc as they currently don't have a sizable arsenal. However, the more time they have to construct more weapons then the harder this task will be.
I'm not disputing the difficulty of the task; in fact, I am emphasising it! I take issue with the myth of proven, capable missile defence systems, propagated by the highest levels of the military and intelligence communities in the US.

And what of the mobile launchers, or those in underground tunnels, or those launched from submarines? Even if NK had no such capabilities, you'd have to be confident that you knew the exact location of every nuclear-armed missile because if you miss just one that could be enough to wipe out Seoul or Tokyo or even hit the US, so it's a pretty risky strategy.
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Palmyra
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(Original post by Drewski)
There's a moment in the timeline of everything where that thing didn't work.

Later on in their timelines, they did work, because people kept on developing them, kept on making improvements.
Of course, and I'm not saying that we shouldn't pursue missile defence programmes at all. I'm merely setting out to dispel the myths of current U.S. missile defence capability.

The issue with missile defence is that it's very cost-ineffective and there is a hell of a long way to go from having a roughly 50% success rate of intercepting relatively primitive hostile targets in pre-scripted conditions to having a missile defence system that can deal with missile salvos and countermeasures (which even NK have already incorporated) in real war-time conditions.

I'm not convinced this is a leap that can be made, but am amenable to the view that 1) it is worth trying, and 2) perhaps it is worth exaggerating our capabilities in order to prevent public panic and to deter hostile attacks.
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SomeWelshGuy123
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(Original post by Palmyra)
Because the U.S. does not only protect its own territory, but its systems are also used to protect NATO (ergo Europe).
No, it's missile defense system protects certain countries within NATO. Eg it doesn't include the UK, France and Italy which have co-developed their own defense networks. There are however defense warning systems in several NATO countries, for instance the yanks have a big **** off radar station in Flyingdale.
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Palmyra
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Just yesterday President Trump said in an interview "we have missiles that can knock out a missile, in the air, 97% of the time" in the context of the U.S.'s potential reaction to North Korea.

Watch the video here.

Only the GMD (discussed above) could intercept the Hwasong 14 (NK's latest ICBM). The GMD has a success rate of approx 50% in "ideal, rigged" tests (per Joe Cirincione).

THAAD has a higher success rate, but "is too far from Seoul to defend it & can't handle multiple missiles".

This is a good article on the disparity between the rhetoric and reality on U.S. missile defence:

What about our long-range defenses, the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense, or GMD, interceptors based in Alaska and California? There the test record is even worse. Even under ideal conditions, where the defenders knew the time, direction and trajectory of the test target and all the details of its shape, temperature, etc., this system has only hit its target half of the time.

“The success rate of the GMD systems in flight intercept tests has been dismal,” says former director of operational testing for the Pentagon, Philip Coyle. Our chances of intercepting a threat missile, even under ideal conditions, are basically “at least as good as a coin toss,” says the former head of the Missile Defense Agency, retired Lt. Gen. Trey Obering.

Yet, reporters routinely use words like “shield” and “dome” to describe our supposed capability, giving us a false sense of security.
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Drewski
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(Original post by Palmyra)
Just yesterday President Trump said in an interview "we have missiles that can knock out a missile, in the air, 97% of the time" in the context of the U.S.'s potential reaction to North Korea.
If you're relying on Trump accurately reporting the effectiveness of various arms of the military then you're probably going to get the wrong results.
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Palmyra
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(Original post by Drewski)
If you're relying on Trump accurately reporting the effectiveness of various arms of the military then you're probably going to get the wrong results.
Even if it were only Trump that is misguided on the reliability of US missile defence that would still be rather problematic given he is in charge of foreign policy.

However, even that is not the case as many top military (and other) officials also continue to propagate the (dangerous) myth (e.g. the Commander of NORAD quoted in post #1).
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Palmyra
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General John Hyten, a USAF general, is the current Commander of the United States Strategic Command.

Just last month General Hyten said that if North Korea fired at missile at the U.S., "we will shoot it down".

So now it is the President of the United States, the Commander of NORAD and the Commander of the United States Strategic Command that are propagating a false sense of security in U.S. missile defence.
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uberteknik
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(Original post by Palmyra)
General John Hyten, a USAF general, is the current Commander of the United States Strategic Command.

Just last month General Hyten said that if North Korea fired at missile at the U.S., "we will shoot it down".

So now it is the President of the United States, the Commander of NORAD and the Commander of the United States Strategic Command that are propagating a false sense of security in U.S. missile defence.
Do you have access to the internal intelligence reports, missile systems classified performance specifications, empirical performance data, THAAD performance specifications, integrated real-time satellite data, location of all missile batteries etc. etc?

I mean, are you a highly experienced and qualified missile systems expert, strategic defence and intelligence analyst and tactical warfare council?

Speculate all you want from behind the security of a keyboard.

The U.S. administration is saying to Kim: "Do ya feel lucky punk? Well do ya? Go ahead, make my day."

Mr Kim is the one playing to keep his testicles attached to his body.
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username3548838
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(Original post by Drewski)
If you're relying on Trump accurately reporting the effectiveness of various arms of the military then you're probably going to get the wrong results.
At least he wants to reverse the cuts and build it up again.
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