News / Science & Technology

Report: US Should Consider Redesign of Missile Defense System

FILE - U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.
FILE - U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.
Reuters
The U.S. Missile Defense Agency should consider redesigning a key part of its ground-based missile defense system after a series of test failures in recent years, the Pentagon's chief arms tester said in a new report due to be released Wednesday.
 
“The flight test failures that have occurred during the past three years raise questions regarding the robustness of the Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV),” said the report, referring to the Raytheon-built part of the rocket used to hit enemy missiles and destroy them on impact.
 
Michael Gilmore, the Pentagon's director of operational test and evaluation (DOT&E), said the agency should redo the intercept test that failed last July and consider whether to redesign the “kill vehicle” and shore it up against failure.
 
Boeing manages the Pentagon's program to deal with long-range missile threats, while Raytheon and Orbital Sciences Corp. build the interceptors and rockets used by the system.
 
Gilmore's report, which circulated in Washington on Tuesday ahead of Wednesday's release, drew praise from two groups that closely track developments on the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system designed by Boeing.
 
“It appears that DOT&E has finally come to the conclusion that the GMD interceptors... may be so flawed that a complete redesign is required,” said Kingston Reif, with the nonprofit Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation.
 
He said neither of the two current versions of the so-called “kill vehicle” designed by Raytheon had seen a successful flight intercept test since 2008.
 
Reif said Gilmore's latest report raised questions about the Boeing-run missile defense system, and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's plan to build and deploy 14 more existing ground based interceptors, which have the older “kill vehicles,” in Alaska at a cost of $1 billion.
 
Riki Ellison, founder of the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, said redesigning the “kill vehicle” was “worth the time and investment it will take to create it, develop it and test it,” given America's need to defend against possible enemy missile attacks.
 
He said he expects the Pentagon's fiscal 2015 budget plan to ask for $560 million in funding over the next five years to develop a new kill vehicle, with an eye to starting their use in 2019. Additional funding would be needed to upgrade and fix the existing interceptors in the meantime, he added.
 
“It is the right thing to do the due diligence, effort and engineering to make this missile as good as our nation can with today's technologies and research,” Ellison said.
 
Nuclear-armed Russia has said it fears a Western anti-missile shield in Europe is meant to undermine its security, upsetting the post-Cold War strategic balance. Efforts to turn years of confrontation over the issue into cooperation have failed.

You May Like

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

New methods for mapping pain in the brain not only validate sufferers of chronic pain but might someday also lead to better treatment More

Sierra Leone's Stray Dog Population Doubles During Ebola Crisis

Many dog owners fear their pets could infect them with the virus and have abandoned them, leading to the increase and sparking fears of rabies More

Fake, Substandard Medicines Pose Global Challenge

So-called 'fake drugs' include expired medicines, those with manufacturing defects, and bogus tablets More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: MikeBarnett from: USA
January 29, 2014 4:22 PM
The "ground-based missile defense system" that uses an "Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV)" must pass through earth's atmosphere to reach space, so damage to the EKV or its space launch platform during the aerodynamic phase of the flight can occur. It can also fail to reach the correct location for launching the EKV against its target.

Satellites rarely require immediate course corrections to collide with objects, so adjustments can be made after greater study. EKV's must strike their targets before those targets hit the US, so the possibility of missing the target is greater, and it increases if the EKV has sustained damage to the control systems or to the EKV itself during launch, its trip through the atmosphere, or in space. However, the US has been working on defense problems since the beginning of nuclear missile programs in the 1950's, and the US still does not have a defensive system that works.
In Response

by: K from: M
January 30, 2014 2:32 PM
Damage during launch and ascent of any missile/payload system can of course occur, however this aspect of rocketry is well understood. No GMD flight test has failed due to damage to EKV during ascent, so that point is still irrelevant.
"Satellites rarely require immediate course correction to collide with objects..."??? How will a satellite or or any object in orbit be able to strike a target that is itself moving at speeds of several km per second, without immediate correction? That statement makes little sense.

by: MikeBarnett from: USA
January 29, 2014 1:59 PM
The main problem is that air is not a vacuum. Air consists of particles. As the vehicle approaches ultra sonic speeds, it strikes the air particles and, effectively, attempts to disentegrate itself by smashing into them. There is a limit to the speeds that vehicles can attain when they travel through the air in controlled flights that are designed to intercept other objects. The alternatives may be space-based weapons that would violate certain treaties or particle beam weapons that would require vast amounts of energy to remain on standby. Both alternatives would be costly for launching and maintaining space vehicles or for producing the vast amounts of energy that must be kept on standby and not used for business or residential customers.

The most cost effective solution would be a military alliance between the US, NATO, Russia, China, and, perhaps India, all of whom are fighting against islamic insurgencies and will continue to do so for many years into the future. This would also buy time to resolve technical issues should the US and NATO choose to continue a cold war after reducing their islamic insurgencies to manageable levels.
In Response

by: k from: m
January 29, 2014 2:38 PM
FYI, the system under discussion in the article operates outside the earth's atmosphere, hence your discussion of aerodynamic drag is irrelevant to flight test failures.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Paini
X
Shelley Schlender
April 20, 2015 7:03 PM
Pain has a purpose - it can stop you from touching a flame or from walking on a broken leg. As an injury heals, the pain goes away. Usually. But worldwide, one out of every five people suffers from pain that lasts for months and years, leading to lost jobs, depression, and rising despair when medical interventions fail or health experts hint that a pain sufferer is making it up. From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Italy Rescues Migrants After Separate Deadly Capsize Incident

Italy continued its massive search and rescue operation in the Mediterranean Monday for the capsized boat off the coast of Libya that was carrying hundreds of migrants, while at the same time rescuing Syrian migrants from another vessel off the coast of Sicily. Thirteen children were among the 98 Syrian migrants whose boat originated from Turkey on the perilous journey to Europe.
Video

Video New Test Set to Be Game Changer in Eradicating Malaria

The World Health Organization estimates 3.4 billion people are at risk of malaria, with children under the age of five and pregnant women being the most vulnerable. As World Malaria Day approaches (April 25), mortality rates are falling, and a new test -- well into the last stage of trials -- is having positive results in Kenya. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA from Nairobi.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.

VOA Blogs