Author: Martin Su
Date: 02-20-12 22:31
There were two important components of U.S. ballistic missile defense against China. Now, they have both been canceled. The United States has given up on neutralizing incoming Chinese thermonuclear warheads.
The Boeing Airborne Laser (ABL) was canceled last year, because it required two minutes to shoot down an unprotected (e.g. non-spinning and non-ablative armored) ballistic missile at an effective range of only 50-100km.
There is a problem in bringing Chinese ICBMs during the boost phase within the ABL's puny 50-100km range. It is impossible to fly a large aircraft near the Chinese coastline without being shot down. Never mind the idea of flying a large aircraft into the interior of the Chinese mainland.
Now, the SBX has also been canceled. In the past, I have criticized the SBX as a fantasy and that it would never work in practice. In theory, if your opponent does nothing then the SBX might work. However, Chinese ballistic missiles, sea-skimming anti-ship missiles, and torpedoes will quickly destroy the large SBX target.
The concept of the SBX looks good on paper if China doesn't attack the SBX. However, in a real war, China would destroy the SBX in the opening minutes. A barrage of 50 ballistic missiles with MARV (maneuverable reentry vehicle) warheads alone would virtually guarantee the destruction of the SBX.
Without the SBX, the United States cannot track incoming Chinese DF-31A and DF-41 ICBMs. Being blind, the United States would lack the information to direct its ground-based interceptors (GBI) to their targets.
Let's assume that China does not attack the SBX (which is obviously ridiculous), U.S. missile defense against incoming Chinese thermonuclear warheads still would not work. According to the diagram, the kill vehicle on the GBI will attempt an intercept near the end of the mid-course phase.
By that time, the MIRVed warheads on the Chinese ICBMs would have separated. It is mathematically impossible for the United States to build three GBI missiles for every 3-MIRVed DF-31A and ten GBI missiles for every 10-MIRVed DF-41 Chinese ICBM.
Also, the U.S. GBI missiles are not reliable. Under ideal test conditions (e.g. clear weather, single target, prepositioned sensors, no decoys, lack of multiple multi-angled flight trajectories, special pre-launch preparation for high-profile test, etc.), half of the intercept tests have failed.
Apparently, common sense has finally sunk in at the Pentagon and they canceled the SBX.
SBX-1 at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
"MDA Slashes $1B from Budget; SBX Shelved
Feb 13, 2012
By Amy Butler email@example.com
The U.S. Missile Defense Agency’s funding request of $7.75 billion includes a major departure for the agency’s testing regime: shelving the massive Raytheon Sea-Based X-Band (SBX) radar.
MDA has long used the radar, which is mounted on a large, floating platform, for providing targeting and discrimination data during flight tests in the Pacific region.
Officials will now use the AN/TYP-2 radars, also made by Raytheon, to support this testing as well as future deployments there, one MDA official says. Additionally, the agency has Upgraded Early Warning Radars and the Cobra Dane system to aid in sensor support for testing. The early warning radar in Clear, Alaska, is being upgraded to a more advanced configuration with completion slated for 2016.
SBX funding, which was at $176.8 million in fiscal 2012, sharply decreases to a steady $9.7 million annually through fiscal 2017.
The White House in budget documents suggests that the SBX will be maintained in a “limited test support” role, saving “at least $500 million over five years while also retaining the ability to recall it to an active, operational status if and when it is needed.”
MDA officials are not providing a press briefing on their budget Feb. 13 along with the rest of the Pentagon; instead, a five-page summary of its budget was released.
In it, the agency says it will complete preliminary designs for the Precision Tracking Space System (PTSS), a satellite constellation designed to provide midcourse tracking of warheads as they travel through cold space toward their targets. PTSS is also optimized to help interceptors destroy targets earlier in flight.
Based on MDA’s request, funding should increase from $80.7 million in fiscal 2012 to $297.3 million in fiscal 2013, with another roughly $1.2 billion through 2017.
One sensor effort that appears stalled, however, is the Airborne Infrared (ABIR) project, which aims to use a UAV-mounted infrared system to provide early tracking data of ballistic missiles after they are fired. No funding is provided for this project through 2017.
Another account, dubbed “advanced remote sensor technology,” however, is slated to receive roughly $150.5 million through 2017. MDA’s documents do not outline what technologies are included in this account.
The agency appears to still be committed to development of the SM-3 IIB interceptor, which is slated for fielding around 2020. This yet-to-be-designed missile is intended to enable earlier interception of medium-range and intermediate-range ballistic missiles. Funded at $13.4 million in fiscal 2012, the agency is proposing to raise spending to $224.1 million in fiscal 2013, with another $1.7 billion to follow through 2017.
MDA’s classified “special programs” are listed as requiring $1.6 billion through fiscal 2017.
MDA plans to maintain 30 Ground-Based Midcourse Defense Interceptors (GBIs) in Alaska and California and continue upgrading the missiles. Additionally, five more GBIs are slated to be built for “enhanced testing, stockpile reliability and spares” for a total of 57 in the entire fleet.
Also in the request is funding for 29 Raytheon SM-3 Block 1B missiles as well as 36 Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense weapons."