Tag Archives: missile defense

The Rocket Greed

Promotional Picture of MBDA Sea Ceptor. image from wikipedia

Missiles excite, for unlike other weapons, demand for them is growing strongly. Global defence spending grew by just 1% in 2015—after five years of severe budget cuts in many countries—but the global market for missiles and missile-defence systems is racing ahead at around 5% a year. The capabilities of such weapons are increasing, and with that their price and profitability. Missiles are no longer just flying bombs; they now often contain more computer than explosive to help find their target autonomously…

Executives [of weapon companies] are putting missiles at the forefront of their efforts to expand abroad and to reduce their reliance on home governments.… The most go-ahead so far has been MBDA, a European joint venture, which last year won more missile orders outside Europe than within its home continent. Others are now catching up on foreign sales. Raytheon hopes soon to sign a $5.6 billion deal with Poland to upgrade its Patriot missile-defence shield, while Lockheed and MBDA plan to ink a deal with Germany for their air-defence systems.

[M]issile divisions at Western firms are facing more competition from Chinese, Israeli and Russian firms in some export markets….

Excerpts from Defence Firms: Rocketing Around the World, Economist, July 16, 2016, at 56

Where the Money Goes: 2015 US Military Spending

Railgun. Image from wikipedia

U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work on Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015 urged NATO allies to develop and make more innovative weapons, and said bold action was needed to stay ahead of rapid weapons development by China, Russia and other countries.  Work said the Pentagon has a new plan called “Defense Innovation Initiative” and a separate effort targeting longer-term projects to ensure that the United States continues to have a decisive competitive advantage against potential foes.

Work said concerns about advances by other countries were a key reason that the Pentagon’s fiscal 2016 budget plan to be delivered to Congress will exceed budget caps set by Congress and reverse five years of declines in U.S. military spending.   He said the budget would include “significant” investments in nuclear weapons, space control capabilities, advanced sensors, missile defense and cyber, as well as unmanned undersea vehicles, high-speed strike weapons, a new jet engine, high-energy lasers and rail gun technology…..Lockheed Martin Corp  and Boeing  and other key weapons makers have repeatedly urged the Pentagon to step up investments in key technologies….

Kendall said the department would also earmark funds for development and prototyping of a new “next-generation X-plane” that would eventually succeed the F-35 fighter jet, and a new engine.

Excerpts, ANDREA SHALAL, Pentagon official urges NATO to focus on innovative weapons. Jan 28, 2015

Battlespace: the Space-Based Infrared System and Missile Defense

The Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS) is a consolidated system intended to meet the United States’ infrared space surveillance needs through the first two to three decades of the 21st century. The SBIRS program is designed to provide key capabilities the areas of missile warning  (MW), missile defense (MD) and battlespace characterization.

SBIRS is an integrated “system of systems” that will include satellites in geosynchronous orbit (GEO), sensors hosted on satellites in highly elliptical orbit (HEO), and ground-based data processing and control. SBIRS ground software integrates infrared sensor programs of the U.S. Air Force (USAF) with new IR sensors. SBIRS continues to struggle with cost overruns…. By September 2007, the expected project cost had increased to $10.4 billion

The original contract consisted of 2 HEO satellite sensors and 2-3 GEO sensors (and satellites) with an option to buy a total of 5 GEOs.

Exceprts from Wikipedia, SBIRS

Lockheed Martin’s SBIRS contracts include four highly elliptical orbiting (HEO) payloads, four GEO satellites, and ground assets to receive, process, and disseminate the infrared mission data. Lockheed Martin expects to receive funding to begin long lead parts procurement for the fifth and sixth GEO satellite by the end of the year (2012).

Lockheed Martin has received the GEO-4 (May 2012).   The GEO-4 structure, identical to the previous three SBIRS GEO spacecraft, is made from lightweight, high-strength composite materials designed to withstand the accelerations and vibrations generated during launch and support the spacecraft throughout on-orbit operations.  According to Lockheed Martin “Delivery of the SBIRS GEO-4 core structure is a major milestone indicating the program is continuing to meet its commitments….Based on lessons learned from the first two SBIRS geosynchronous satellites, production of GEO-3 and GEO-4 is proceeding very well. In addition, we have a number of affordability initiatives in place jointly with the Air Force to continually reduce the cost of each follow-on SBIRS satellite.”

Excerpts, Lockheed Martin Delivers Core Structure for Fourth SBIRS Satellite, Press Release Lockheed Martin, May 24, 2012

See also US Air Force

India’s Nuclear Capable Missiles

The successful launch of three missiles in the past week confirmed India’s readiness for strategic defence and that the country’s missile development and production capability have reached a high maturity level, observed V.K. Saraswat, Scientific Advisor to Defence Minister.  Talking to The Hindu soon after the launch of the nuclear weapons-capable Agni-II on Friday, he said the hat-trick of successes has proved the country’s capability to develop and produce missiles of any range and the possession of technology to meet any threat profile.  He said that Agni-II Prime surface-to-surface missile would be launched in November and the first flight test of India’s longest range strategic system Agni-V (5,000 km range) would be conducted in December. Besides, an interceptor missile test would also be held as part of the plans to put in place Ballistic Missile Defence system.

Y. Mallikarjun T.S. Subramanian, Launch confirms India’s readiness for strategic defence, the Hindu, Sept. 30, 2011

China’s Missile Defense System

China used a top-secret SC-19 anti-satellite (ASAT) missile in a test last year against a target missile as part of a missile-defense system that remains shrouded in secrecy.  The ASAT missile was fired against a new medium-range missile and details were disclosed in a State Department cable made public recently by WikiLeaks that included an outline of a diplomatic protest note to Beijing about both Chinese weapons programs.

The cable provides the first detailed U.S. assessment of what defense officials say is a major strategic advancement in China’s military buildup. It reveals that China’s anti-satellite system was developed for use not only against satellites but is part of a larger strategic missile-defense system.  Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates offered to hold strategic talks with China on missile defenses, as well as space, nuclear and cyberweapons, during a recent visit to Beijing. The offer was rebuffed by China’s defense minister, who said only that it would be studied.

Defense officials and private specialists said the cable further highlights official Chinese government duplicity in opposing U.S. missile defenses and promoting an international agreement to limit weapons in space at the same time it is secretly working on its own space weapons and missile defense programs.  Details of the Chinese SC-19 test are not expected to be included in the Pentagon’s annual report to Congress on the Chinese military that was due March 1 but remains under review by the Obama administration.

Chinese state-run media announced the January 2010 test in a two-sentence statement that made no mention of the use of the SC-19. The SC-19’s first successful test destroyed a Chinese weather satellite in January 2007, resulting in thousands of pieces of debris in orbit that remain a threat to both manned and unmanned space flight.

The current U.S. strategic missile defense has no direct capabilities for shooting down satellites. However, the Navy modified a ship-based SM-3 anti-missile interceptor to shoot down a falling U.S. satellite in 2008.

Chinese Embassy spokesman Wang Baodong repeated the comments of a Foreign Ministry spokesman who said the 2010 test was “defensive in nature and targeted at no country.”

“The U.S. Intelligence Community assesses that on 11 January 2010, China launched an SC-19 missile from the Korla Missile Test Complex and successfully intercepted a near-simultaneously launched CSS-X-11 medium-range ballistic missile launched from the Shuangchengzi Space and Missile Center,” the State Department cable said.  Little is known about the CSS-X-11, which could be an extended-range variant of the CSS-7 short-range missile.  U.S. missile warning satellites detected the launches and the intercept some 155 miles in space but detected no debris, the cable said.

“An SC-19 was used previously as the payload booster for the January 11, 2007, direct-ascent anti-satellite (DA-ASAT) intercept of the Chinese FY-1C weather satellite,” the cable said. “Previous SC-19 DA-ASAT flight-tests were conducted in 2005 and 2006. This test is assessed to have furthered both Chinese ASAT and ballistic missile defense (BMD) technologies.”

The cable said the U.S. government in its protest would not disclose that it knows China’s ASAT and missile defense programs are linked.  The draft demarche demanded to know the purpose of the test and whether it is part of a missile-defense system; whether China plans to deploy missile defenses for its forces and territory; what “foreign forces” is China planning to target with the missile defenses; and whether China tried to limit space debris.

Excerpt, Bill Gertz, Inside the Ring, Washington Times, Mar. 9, 2011