Dear Nay-Sayers: missile defense works

***Posted by Phineas

At least well-enough in tests that it is worth pursuing for field deployment. The Closing Velocity blog keeps track of developments in missile defense and has posted a couple of interesting items in the last few days. The first involves the successful interception of an incoming missile during its reentry phase, meaning it’s closing on its target — such as an American city:

Lockheed Martin has conducted the second successful test of an advanced version of the combat-proven Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missile system.

The upgraded missile – the PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) – successfully intercepted a threat representative tactical ballistic missile target in the MSE battlespace at the White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico Wednesday.


The PAC-3 MSE missile features a larger, more powerful rocket motor for increased thrust, along with larger fins and other structural modifications for more agility. The modifications extend the missile’s reach by up to 50 percent, according to Lockheed.

If the name “Patriot” looks familiar to you, that’s because the PAC-3 is a descendant of the Patriot missile defense system that became famous during Gulf War I with, as I recall, mixed results. Twenty years down the road, the improvements seem to be remarkable.

It might also be familiar because, as McKittrick points out, the PAC-3 was the missile-defense system to be deployed in Poland and the Czech Republic — that is, until Obama pulled the rug out from under them to appease Moscow.

Then again, our president is quite honest about his attitudes regarding ballistic-missile defense:

As with his archaic beliefs regarding arms-control with the Russians, President Obama’s mind seems to be stuck in the early 80s.

The other development is the successful testing of the Arrow-2 counter-missile, a joint Israel-US project, off the coast of California, in a simulation of an Iranian attack on Israel:

Last night, off the coast of California, the joint US-Israeli missile defense system Arrow 2 achieved a remarkable intercept of a simulated Iranian ballistic missile:

  • The Arrow interceptor was launched at around 10:30 pm Pacific Standard Time from a US Navy base along the California coast and intercepted a missile fired from a nearby navy vessel. Defense officials said that the enemy missile impersonated a “future threat that Israel could one day face in the region.” Defense officials lauded the successful launching as another indication of Israel’s defense capabilities in the face of Iran’s continued quest for a nuclear weapon. They said that the Arrow system could protect Israel from all of the missiles in Iran’s arsenal.

And here’s some entertaining video of the intercept. You may “ooh” and “ah” at will:

I don’t know about you, but I find this pretty darned exciting. Sure, these were simulations under relatively controlled conditions, but that is still shooting one bullet out of the air with another bullet, as McKittrick put it. Given the success shown so far and the danger posed by unstable tyrants in Pyongyang and Tehran (And where else that we haven’t heard of?), isn’t an anti-missile shield for America and her allies worth pursuing? I’ll grant it wouldn’t be enough to hold off a massive attack by the Russians or the Chinese, but that’s not the likely danger, these days. The threat of a small salvo or individual rocket from a rogue nation or even a capable terrorist organization is much more credible and still potentially devastating, and that is exactly what these systems are designed to handle.

It’s a shame we have a president who can’t see the world for what it is, rather than what it was when he was in college.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

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