September was a heck of a month for Missile Defense with several successful tests, contracts awarded, and barriers broken. This wasn’t on everyone’s radar screens at the time, but it’s important in the Pacific with North Korea now promising new nuclear tests.
While some critics are arguing against missle-defenseÂ with cost-based logic, the missile launches by North Korea earlier this year outweigh all arguments. If one of those were capable of hitting Hawaii or California, at the time there wouldn’t have been anything we could have done to prevent it. That must change, the nuclear djinn is out of the bottle and over the next fifty years no matter how vigorously we combat nuclear proliferation, other countries will also gain nuclear capabilities.
A true test of mid-flight targeting and destruction was successful, bringing down a intercontinental ballistic missle fired from Kodiak, Alaska. (Message to North Korea: The missile they did the test shot against could have reached you…) The Ground Based Interceptor (GBI) picked off an ICBM flying at 13,000 MPH with an intercept speed of 15,000 MPH.
Raytheon and others got awarded contracts to extend and build new theater anti-missile defenses and interceptors with an eye toward creating a layered defense against rogue-state or terrorist missile firing.
U.S. allies who have committed themselves to supporting and developing missile defense, especially Japan, may accelerate their orders for systems and speed up their deployment plans. A new chapter in the history of the BMD program has begun.”
Indeed it has. Only four days after those words were published Marshall S. Billingslea, NATO’s assistant secretary-general for defense investment, announced that the 26-nation alliance had approved the construction of a $90 million BMD command and control system over the next six years, as well as an integrated test bed for the security of all its member countries.
“The Active Layered Theater Ballistic Missile Defense program will put in place an inter-operable and integrated command/control center that provides individual member country’s missile defense assets to be used for the common protection of NATO and her territory,” the Italian AKI news agency reported.
Alliant Techsystems also carried out the second successful test of the Kinetic Energy Interceptor engine at Promontory Utah:
Alliant Techsystems, or ATK, and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency carried out their second successful test of the first stage rocket motor of the new Kinetic Energy Interceptor, or KEI, missile.
The engine is designed to launch the three-stage booster rocket system that will carry the projected advanced interceptor missile that is being designed for “boost phase” interception of a hostile intercontinental ballistic missile right after it has been launched and before it can accelerate to its maximum speed.
The test firing was the second of a five-test series to prepare for the program’s first booster flight in 2008. Northrop Grumman heads the U.S. industries developing the KEI for the MDA. And the Raytheon Company is responsible for developing and integrating the KEI system’s interceptor.
At the end of the month we entered final stages of building Japan’s Patriot PAC 3 battery, while South Korea isÂ buying earlierÂ generation Patriot systems from Germany. On top of that we moved Aegis missile ships into the area, and certed the next version of Aegis missile defense systems.
In the offense department, the US also testedÂ the new CKEM anti-armor offensive missile against some hardened bunkers, and it will come in handy against armored missile bunkers, technicals, and tanks as we saw in the Israel-Hizb’allah conflict.