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Pentagon trumpets successful mock-ICBM interception test

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Incredible

You can barely see the elastic joining the interceptor to the missile

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Safe from Simulated ICBMs

Now all we have to do is convince North Korea to convert to simulated weapons and we will be safe, as missed intercepts only lose simulated cities. Think Missile Command.

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Re: Safe from Simulated ICBMs

Shall we play a game?

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Pirate

let's test something against the next NORK launch

Come on, USA, let's test something against the next NORK launch. Next time Kim Jong "Cartman" Un decides everyone needs to "Respect his AUTHORITAH!" and lobs another missile into the Sea of Japan [hoping to reach Japan I'd gather], it would be *FUN* if the USA lobbed something BACK that blew it to *ATOMS* less than halfway there.

you never know which one is going to have a REAL NUKE on it, so might as well blow them ALL up!

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Re: let's test something against the next NORK launch

Lets not poke the snoozing bear shall we.

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Re: let's test something against the next NORK launch

It'll really not help the US reputation if it misses, which is quite likely. Fat Boy would make a huge deal of it, even if his missile fails.

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WTF?

Re: let's test something against the next NORK launch

Do you often fantasise about the deaths of millions?

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Mushroom

What if they used a series of satellites with powerful lazers that could track and destroy the incoming ICBM's. it's the only way to ensure we protect our way of life, by nuking it from orbit

Call it star wars!

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This post has been deleted by its author

FozzyBear

By definition wouldn't that be lasering rather than Nuking?

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lazers -(light amplification by Zoomy emission of radiation) uses faster than light super turbo WRX light to shoot down missiles before they are launched

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Pint

Too true. I was in a hurry to finish the post. The clock chimed beer- O'clock, so couldn't be arsed to edit

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Star Wars? I like it. Will there be some stirring music??

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Anonymous Coward

a senior moment here

Could you please remind me why when north korea or iran test a new toy, it is an an aggressive, provocative act, which threatens the very fabric of the world peace; when america does it, it is a peaceful demonstration of our commitment to keeping the americans, our allies, and the world safe; and when russia does it, it is aggressive posturing by an egomaniac living in the past?

don't bother, i'll get my cane myself on the way out ...

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Holmes

Re: a senior moment here

@AC

Because the U.S. doesn't go threatening to turn cities that are home to 10s of millions of people into a "sea of fire", give state-run nightly news stories against a backdrop of the U.S. Capitol in flames or talk about destroying Israel?

Not to say that the U.S. does everything right, but since the end of WW2 we're pretty sober when it comes to the nukes.

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Re: a senior moment here

I'd give you two thumbs up if I could M. Hack. I like to think we leave the sea of glass talk for the wing nuts for the most part. Intentionally landing a missile in another country's water without letting them know first is generally a no no, and certainly if you are officially talking up possibly nuking them.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: a senior moment here

Because the U.S. doesn't go threatening to turn cities that are home to 10s of millions of people into a "sea of fire", give state-run nightly news stories against a backdrop of the U.S. Capitol in flames or talk about destroying Israel?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_wars_involving_the_United_States

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_wars_involving_North_Korea

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_wars_involving_Iran

Feel free to form your own conclusions.

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Unhappy

"give state-run nightly news stories against a backdrop of the U.S. Capitol in flames"

Say what you like but that would be a very arresting image on any US TV news channel.

Even if the story didn't actually relate to the Capitol being in flames.

Or in fact was about Washington DC at all.

You know that in news, if it bleeds, it leads.

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Re: a senior moment here

Duh!

We = The GOOD GuysTM

They = The BAD GuysTM

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Re: a senior moment here

"... but since the end of WW2 we're pretty sober when it comes to the nukes."

Hmm, considering the antics of Curtis E. LeMay, I'd say that Dr. Strangelove was closer to the truth than I'm really comfortable with.

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Re: a senior moment here

"since the end of WW2 we're pretty sober when it comes to the nukes."

Uh huh. Pretty good at not nuking people since we last nuked people. Right.

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Re: a senior moment here

Could you please remind me why when north korea or iran test a new toy, it is an an aggressive, provocative act, which threatens the very fabric of the world peace; when america does it, it is a peaceful demonstration of our commitment to keeping the americans, our allies, and the world safe;

The weapon being tested in this article, is it designed to destroy masses of civilians, or is it designed to destroy weapons that are designed to destroy masses of civilians?

What are the weapons that North Korea are testing designed to do?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: a senior moment here

"Because the U.S. doesn't go threatening to turn cities that are home to 10s of millions of people into a "sea of fire""

America doesn't threaten it just does it, Iraq? Shock and Awe, hearts and minds, strong and stable (I added the last one for fun and to highlight how two words with an "and" in the middle can be used to sway opinion)

Now where did I leave those wmd's?

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Flame

Re: a senior moment here

Because the U.S. doesn't go threatening to turn cities that are home to 10s of millions of people into a "sea of fire" ...

Yess - Because threatening words, Oh My God, are really, really dangerous stuff that could maybe hurt someone's feelings and stuff - quite unlike those democratic and fairly applied sanctions, inventions and "regime changes" all over the place where someone has something The Market wants for cheap.

So far those actions, not random rantings, have resulted in hundreds of thousands killed, millions on the run and still more eeking out some sort of life in desperate poverty until seal team 6 confuses them with Al-Qa'ida and blows up their hamlet and lifestock.

-- And we are The Good Guys, unfairly hated, picked upon and threatened with words and bad language only for our FreeDumbs!?

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Re: a senior moment here

The US is literally the only country that has ever nuked anybody, and it's now run by Donald Trump who may be pretty sober in a factual sense what with the not drinking and all but metaphorically very much is not so.

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Joke

Re: a senior moment here

Team America (world police) was a fantastic documentary. You should watch it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: a senior moment here

What are the weapons that North Korea are testing designed to do?

They are designed to defend the Fatherland against an attack by an overwhelming invading force. Same as the US, UK, French, Russian, Pakistani, Indian, Israeli, or Chinese missiles and nukes, as a matter of fact.

Have you been missing your daily political education session often, comrade?

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Re: a senior moment here

They are designed to defend the Fatherland against an attack by an overwhelming invading force. Same as the US, UK, French, Russian, Pakistani, Indian, Israeli, or Chinese missiles and nukes, as a matter of fact.

But how do they do that?

And how does that compare to what the subject of this article does?

Simplified:

Which one kills people and which one protects people?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: a senior moment here

Which one kills people and which one protects people?

Both offensive and defensive weapons can either kill people or protect people.

Offensive weapons can protect people by deterring an enemy attack (this is the concept of strategic deterrence, which every recognized nuclear power appears to support). They can also protect people by shortening an otherwise close-matched fight (this is an idea often invoked to excuse the nuclear-weapons use by the US in the 2nd world war).

Defensive weapons can kill people by removing or reducing the cost of retaliation after the attack, which makes a military intervention more palatable and more profitable to the attacker. The history of colonial wars of the past few centuries is full of relevant examples, so pick one.

As far as anybody knows, neither the norks' nuclear weapons nor the US BMD system have killed anybody not directly involved in their development so far, so the score here is nil-nil.

Let's hope it stays that way.

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Re: a senior moment here

Offensive weapons can protect people by deterring an enemy attack

But how do they do that FFS???!!

What is their direct, primary function?

What is the immediate primary effect of their use?

Are they a punch of a parry?

The most likely ill effect of defensive anti-missile weapons is the escalation of technology and design of attack weapons to foil them.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: a senior moment here

I suspect you're also one threatened by "bad words" from the current President so pretending words don't matter when it comes to foreign powers, shows some of the most blatant hypocrisy seen here.

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Re: a senior moment here

"Because the U.S. doesn't go threatening to turn cities that are home to 10s of millions of people into a "sea of fire""

The point of a nuclear strike capability, indeed the only point, is to threaten just that "sea of fire". To deter you must make that threat and make it credible.

(That is why I just cannot understand Jeremy Corbin's statement that he wants to keep the UK's deterrent but will never use it. You can't change your mind in the middle of a crisis - that is a huge negative signal to the other side.

Having a nuclear deterrent is a political, not a military, decision. If you are running the country and don't believe the UK should have it man up and scrap it. The money released can be spent on the NHS and pensions for superannuated techs.)

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Apart from having flashbacks to the 1980ies (didn't they do all that before?), I also have questions.

1. What exactly is an "ICBM target"? Possibly something larger than a re-entry vehicle1) from a MIRV bus? Like maybe a complete nose cone or upper stage?

2. How do we get The Bad GuysTM to put beacons in their kit that provide target acquisition and tracking data for us?

1) Cutest alternative name for "nuclear warhead" ever.

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This is a mid-course interceptor. It's to hit the warhead in space, in mid-flight. I'd assume while it's coasting. They planned to put a site in Eastern Europe to counter Iran's missile program, but didn't in the end. Partly because the Russians cut up rough, but I suspect mostly because it wasn't working yet.

MIRVs are really hard, and North Korea are still struggling to shrink their warhead down to one per rocket size, as well as getting the rockets to work reliably. So I doubt they're worrying about them yet - it took the UK billions, and nearly a decade, to get Cheveline in the 70s, which is similar but cheaper tech to get multiple warheads through ABM defences but isn't fully independently targetable.

Current US strategy on missile defence is multi-layered. Obviously it's all still in various stages of development, so I doubt anyone really knows what will work, or how well.

So you've got THAAD which is already deployed in Alaska I think, and is being deployed in South Korea as we speak. That's the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence System - aimed at hitting the incoming warhead/MIRV on final approach to the target. They're the last line of defence.

They've then got the early shot, which is the SM3. That's a naval SAM, carried by the US Arleigh Burke destroyers and their AEGIS cruisers. Japan also use them. And they're capable of hitting satellites, and missiles in flight. The US have a deal with Japan where there are always a couple of ships in the Sea of Japan to try and shoot down incoming missiles at an early stage, where they're obviously most vulnerable, as they're going slowly and can't manoeuvre. Japan obviously also maintain patrols to do this.

There are also apparently various electronic means of getting at rockets in the early stage of flight, and rumours the US have been actually using them to bugger up North Korean tests. I've no idea how much of that is true, wishful thinking or even possible.

Then you've got these mid-course ones.

There's also someting I can't remember the name of but is basically a land based AEGIS system. It's cheaper, and already proven to work using SM3 - but obviously not on a ship. And the US are talking about putting one of these bases in Romania, to replace the mid-course missiles that would have gone to Poland. But that was to counter the Iranian threat, which is much reduced, as a nice nuclear deal has been signed. It also annoys the Russians on principle, so may or may not happen. But would seem to make sense in South Korea.

However putting that near China might really annoy them, given they've already complained about THAAD - even though that's aimed at blocking warheads, and not Chinese missiles in flight.

Russia has many missiles, so shouldn't be too worried about ABM weapson taking out a small percentage. But China only operates a few hundred warheads, as it has a similar limited nuclear posture to the UK and France. We aren't aiming for global destruction, just to take out your top 10-30 cities.

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re-entry vehicle1)

1) Cutest alternative name for "nuclear warhead" ever.

It is cute, but I must admit that I've always preferred the term "bucket of instant sunshine"

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It looked like the Minuteman's engine was still burning because it was leaving a trail of exhaust, so presumably there was still a fairly chunky target.

Interesting summary - the threat of upsetting China is one that I really hope keeps the sane heads in the Pentagon awake. Not so much because of a risk of war with the US, but because China building up its arsenal is going to cause an arms race in the region with its historic rival, India which has already demonstrated impressive missile-building skills. And if India has more nukes, that means regional basket case Pakistan has got to build more...

So while we wait for the world to turn a pleasant shade of Maralinga Orange - have an upvote.

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I think that upsetting China is deliberate.

There's already an arms race in the region, because China has been on a huge military build-up for the last ten years. They're trying to create a genuine blue-water navy, though that's still years away, as they've been going quite slowly on the aircraft carrier development. But they have built a pretty huge amphibious capacity. For a country that's not got a blue-water navy, or much history of overseas deployment, that's basically a sword aimed directly at Taiwan. They're also massively militarising the South China Sea in competition with every other nation there (and much closer) for the oil resources.

I think that the US policy is to upset China enough to get them to reign in North Korea (which everyone believes China has some power to do), without upsetting them so much as to get them really pissed off. The Chinese have got to understand that the US, South Korea and Japan have legitimate concerns about North Korea, but they've been unwilling to do much about if of late. That does seem to have been changing in the last couple of years though.

Because the other bit that you missed out is the consequences of allowing North Korea to have a fully capable ICBM force. At present Japan and South Korea both operate civilian nuclear programs, and have advanced industry, but both are happy to shelter under the US nuclear umbrella. That may change. Trump can't look any more reliable to them as an ally than he does to Europe. They've been happy to accept China's nuclear forces, because China has kept them limited and acted mostly predictably. They may not choose to accept North Korea having that power over them. China would definitely not be happy with a nuclear armed Japan - and might wish to increase its nuclear resources.

So as you can see, doing nothing may be just as bad as doing something. Hence the complicated diplomatic fun-and-games.

This is the same situation with allowing Iran to get nuclear capability. Turkey and Saudi Arabia are quite unlikely to be happy about that. The Saudis have lots of cash, and can almost certainly get access to Pakistan's nuclear program. After all, Pakistan have already sold nuclear info to Libya, North Korea, Iraq, Syria and possibly others.

As I understand it, Pakistan got their nuclear helping hand from China, to help counterbalance India. And then promptly sold it to North Korea for help with missiles. As you say, arms-races are bad.

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"Pentagon trumpets successful mock-ICBM interception test"

About time! I'm fed up to *here* with those blasted ICBMs constant mocking!

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Boffin

Next steps...

"As Martin Pfieffer, who Tweets as @NuclearAnthro, put it: “Now do it with one flying faster, carrying chaff, and of unknown launch & trajectory.”"

These interceptors are really not designed to take out anything with counter measures, which is why they wont work against Russian ICBM's (or probably the Chinese's as well). They will work against the Nork Rockets though, since they are not believed to have developed anything along those lines.

The next test if you wanted to prove the system is to tell the Interceptor Crews sometime in the next month we will Launch 1-3 ICBM's at you. And give them no more details. Then launch those Rockets randomly from unreported locations and see how it goes. If the Interceptor works then, you have a working system. If not, go back to the drawing board...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Next steps...

Developing ICBM's with countermeasures seems such an overkill when you can use a 40 foot shipping container as your delivery mechanism.

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Re: Next steps...

Shipping containers aren't a very reliable method. And take lots of advanced prep. So they're a good covert first-strike option, but of limited use as a second strike deterrent.

Particularly as North Korea isn't plugged into the global shipping network, and their ships get monitored, as they're often carrying weapons to places people might not want weapons sold to. So they might have to ship their container via land through China, which might annoy the Chinese government somewhat...

At times of high tension, that threat massively diminishes, as none of North Korea's ships are going to be going anywhere un-watched.

You could of course pre-position one in a third country, but that requires giving a lot of control of a precious national resource (a warhead) to an independent group you can no longer shoot. And has a high risk of getting discovered.

Whereas a working ICBM on a train or truck that can be hidden gives second strike capability, even if the regime has been destroyed.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Next steps...

It doesn't need to be in the container to ship it out of North Korea. The container is only needed for delivering it to the target country and that makes things so much simpler. I do agree that it needs to have been shipped well before any posturing or actual hostilities take place.

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Re: Next steps...

You could of course just surface one of your submarines in New York/San Francisco harbour and set the nuke off. Bit hard on the crew, admittedly.

But any delivery mechanism where you have to drive/sail the thing to its target creates many problems and uncertainties. Especially when you're a rogue state, that doesn't have normal access to global shipping routes, and so who's stuff is at high risk of getting inspected/found.

Plus you've got massive command and control problems. Once the warhead leaves its borders, the regime essentially has lost direct control of it. And paranoid family dictatorships aren't known for their high trust in subordinates.

Plus, where would they keep the thing in the meantime?

The North Korean airforce aren't expecting their planes to survive long enough to deliver these nukes, and I suspect the navy fare little better. So ICBMs are the most reliable means to work on. And North Korea has had a decent missile program for a while - it was missile tech that the Norks swapped with Pakistan to get their nuclear tech after all. So it's a natural fit. Plus it's also the scariest option, as well as making the regime look more poweful inside its borders. And propoganda is at least as important as reality, to a regime that only survives on fear and brainwashing.

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Re: Next steps...

what if your target is not anywhere close to a seaport?

And if your intent is NOT "first strike"?

Or you want to send more than one at a given area?

Like using passenger jets as bombs, its a trick that only works once. And the claims of "it was an accident" are impossible to make even for the biggest apologists.

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Coat

Developing ICBM's countermeasures seems such an overkill when you can use a 40 foot container

I never use anything else.

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Anonymous Coward

Surely if Israel has a successful missile shield then developing one for larger rockets that stay in the air a lot longer before hitting their target is easy?

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The problem with ICMB interception isn't really target aquisition or tracking. It's pure and simple speed. A typical short range missile might be moving at mach 2 or 3 at best. An ICBM re-entry vehicle is moving at a balmy mach 14 or faster depending on trajectory. A timing error of 1 millisecond at mach 3 is about 1 m of position error. At Mach 14 that's closer to 5m. The difference between getting within blast radius and a mis. And every second you spend trying to get a good targeting solution means the target has moved nearly 5 km closer!

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Anonymous Coward

Surely if Israel has a successful missile shield then developing one for larger rockets that stay in the air a lot longer before hitting their target is easy?

The Israeli system is moderately effective against (relatively) slow, low altitude ground to ground missiles. ICBM's travel much faster, much higher, and can still be reasonably effective if they explode at quite high altitude. So they need to be intercepted outside of, or in the very upper atmosphere - and there's still the likelihood of radioactive debris even if the ICBM warhead doesn't fire. To intercept in the upper atmosphere you need to track the ICBM in near-space, and hit an incoming warhead travelling at several thousand miles per hour. Note also that the ballistic missile may be large, but the re-entry vehicle with the warhead will be quite small.

And the other thing is that the Israeli Iron Dome system is far from 100% effective. Against a conventional missile threat that doesn't matter, whereas an anti-ICBM defence that doesn't have the highest level of reliability is of dubious value. Of course, sometimes it doesn't matter if the technology is a bit crap - Reagan's Star Wars system pushed the Soviet Union into an arms race that bankrupted it (or rather brought that even forward). If Fat Boy Kim (and any other despots who make up what we might call the Turd World) can be persuaded that the US does have an ICBM defence, it may discourage them from going down that route - although I'm not convinced.

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Mushroom

Re: Against a conventional missile threat that doesn't matter

I think that opinion depends on where you happen to be standing when the reliability dips below 100%!

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If Fat Boy Kim (yada yada yada) can be persuaded that the US does have an ICBM defence

They might conclude that it''s been designed by the love child of Rube Goldberg and Heath Robinson. The cheapest way of getting rid of the North Korean missile and nuclear threat might be to sell them - on the black market, natch - the US SDI aka Star Wars, lock stock and barrel. We could also sell them the White House, Capitol Hill, and the Electoral College, then tax them for their upkeep ... throwing in Westminster and 10 Downing St as an added inducement.

No, if you want to stop a North Korean missile threat, talk them into selling satellite launch services on the open market in return for valuable foreign exchange. Id give the regime fifteen years to survive after opening up, then it'd fall over on its own.

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