Thursday, March 17, 2016

It sure looks good on paper

But the Pentagon's prized, and very expensive, missile defense system is about to be deployed without any testing of a key component essential to its proper functioning.
The components, called alternate divert thrusters, are vital to the high-precision guidance required to intercept and destroy an enemy warhead traveling at supersonic speed – a feat likened to hitting one speeding bullet with another.

The interceptors, deployed in underground silos at Vandenberg Air Force Base in Santa Barbara County and at Ft. Greely, Alaska, are the backbone of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system (GMD) – the nation’s main defense against a sneak attack by North Korea or Iran.

The interceptors are multi-stage rockets, each with a 5-foot-long “kill vehicle” at its tip. The 150-pound kill vehicle is designed to separate from its rocket in space, fly independently at 4 miles per second and crash into an enemy warhead, destroying it.

The performance of the divert thrusters, which are supposed to keep the kill vehicles on course during their final approach to their targets, has been a source of concern for several years. In response, the Missile Defense Agency oversaw development of a new and supposedly better version, the alternate divert thruster.

An outside panel of experts privately advised the agency to put the alternate divert thrusters through “hot fire” testing, in which they would be revved up on the ground to see whether they burned smoothly and delivered adequate propulsion.

But in order to stay on schedule for a planned expansion of the GMD system, none of the 40 thrusters that are being installed on 10 new interceptors will undergo hot-fire testing, government officials told the Los Angeles Times.

Forgoing the tests “increases the risk for reliability issues going undetected,” according to a newly released report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office. The report says that such testing “verifies proper performance and workmanship.”
Gee, that sure makes me feel safer, knowing that the deployment schedule is of more importance than the proper functioning of a system that has long odds of success even if all things work properly. And all the $Billions spent on this project are, when all is said and done, pissed away. But promotions all around for meeting the all important deployment schedule.

"...the nation’s main defense against a sneak attack by North Korea or Iran." I have a here a fly swatter which can be our nations main defense against a sneak attack by North Korea or Iran inasmuch as neither of those countries have any platforms capable of reaching the continental US nor any prospect of developing such a platform in the foreseeable future. If these are in fact anti-strategic missles, that means Russia and China and pretty much nobody else at present, though I'm sure India is working on something.

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