19 February 2009

Fear and Loathing in Euro Missile Defense

Click Pictures for full size images
Tehran to DC

Masshad to Washington, DC

Masshad to San Francisco

Masshad to Rome

Masshad to Madrid

Masshad to Istambul

Masshad to Athens

Masshad to Chicago
I'm thoroughly skeptical of BMD systems to begin with, particularly the current Ground-Based Midcourse Defense system.

The technology for decoys is simply too easy, it's basically the same as the shiny metalized children's balloons you can get at party city, and striking a reentry vehicle when closing speeds are in excess of a mile per second seems to me to involve awfully long odds.

I call it "faith based missile defense," and one of the earliest goals of the Bush administration was to ensure that it be deployed into service come hell or high water, on the theory that once it was there, it would be politically costly to remove it.

OK, so we all know the game, scary Persians are going to lob an IRBM at Europe, so we have to put an Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) system into Poland, so as to protect everyone.

Thing is, Poland is a pretty crappy place to put a BMD system to protect our NATO allies, and this installation, along with the associated radar at Brdy in the Czech Republic* and it's gotten the Russians absolutely batsh$# insane.

If you figure out the trajectory of a Ballistic missile, and the tools to the this can be found in a number of places on the web, the location does not make sense.

It does not protect Turkey, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovenia, or southern France.

I've had discussions with people sho have suggested that it would protect the eastern seaboard, and it would, if you launched the missiles from downtown Tehran, but just like our ballistic missiles are not located on Washington DC or Crystal City, it's unlikely that they would put their installation there.

They would want to locate it as far away from a potential aircraft carrier, NATO airbases in Turkey, and the US base at Diego Garcia.

This would put a missile base in the North East corner of the country about 500 miles east of Tehran, in the general vicinity of Masshad, the 2nd largest city in Iran.

Suddenly that interceptor in poland does not do such a good job protecting the east coast.

For an attack on the West Coast, it's path is too far from either Poland, or the base at Fort Greely, and the installation at Vandenberg seems iffy for covering San Francisco and points north.

Now, the folks the Missile defense agency claim that the installation in Poland is unable to intercept Russian ICBMs (bottom picture), but unsurprisingly the Russians do not believe them.

The Russians did offer a site at Qabala, which they rent from Azerbaijan, if the US dropped the Polish installation, but the respons, at least by Bush and His Evil Minions was to go pound sand.

In any case, it's clear that Azerbaijan, Turkmenestan, Uzbekistan, and Georgia would be prime locations for such a site, though there are serious political issues there, but sites in Turkey, Romania, or Bulgaria would provide better coverage of Europe, and might have a shot at intercepting something headed for Chicagoland, which none of the current installations do.

*In fact, the radar, which can surveil all the airspace in European Russia, may be more of a sticking point than the missile base in Poland.
I used Google Maps. Go there, then click "my maps", and then click on "browse the directory", and click on the distance measurement tool, and it will compute great circle distances, which is what modern aircraft, and ballistic missiles, do .
It's the shortest distance between two points on a sphere. The straight line on a Mercator projection is actually longer. It's what you would get if you used a globe, and a tight string between two points on that globe.


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