Strategic Weapons: October 19, 1999

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More Anti-Missile Success: The first Raytheon exoatmospheric kill vehicle (EKV) successfully hit a dummy target launched by a Lockheed Martin modified Minuteman II. Analysis is on-going to determine if the precise hit point was hit. Program officials said that nothing could have survived. While this is a great first step current plans to maintain a hot-backup program using a Boeing EKV will continue. Program officials did say that after two good hits the backup program will be reexamined. The Ground Based Radar (GBR)was used in shadow mode during the test and worked well albeit with some anomalies. The X-band GBR correctly identified the RV but then temporarily mistook the RV for a decoy. Other systems operating is shadow mode were the DSP constellation, an Upgraded Early Warning Radar, and a battle management system. The Russians have protested that the test violates the ABM treaty while US officials counter that the test is fully compliant. It's unclear why the Russians view this test as non-compliant. The treaty allows the deployment of anti-ballistic missiles to protect missile silos but not to protect an entire country. While this test is part of a National Missile Defense(NMD) project until the missiles are deployed in such a manner as to protect the whole country no treaty violation could occur. Of course the real reason the Russians have protested is that any deployment of a successful NMD system would significantly reduce Russian leverage over the US. --Tom Trinko

A NATO conference in November will, in all probability, authorize a four-year study of theater ballistic missile defense systems. This is seen as a tentative half-step, since the US should have such systems ready before the study will be completed, but is as far as some of the NATO allies (concerned over cost and disbelieving that such systems are really needed) are willing to go.--Stephen V Cole

 


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