31 January 2007

Wednesday Roll-up of Missile News

Continuing the themes from yesterday’s post:

a. India plans aerospace military command to oversee space-based assets: In yet more fallout from China’s ASAT test comes the announcement from India that they intend to “create an aerospace command to control and protect satellites and spacecraft orbiting the Earth.” Air Chief Marshal Shashi Tyagi said India was an aerospace power with "transoceanic reach" and it was important for it to be able to exploit outer space. "As the reach of the Indian Air Force is expanding it has become extremely important that we exploit space, and for it you need space assets." Tyagi's comments follow a Chinese anti-satellite weapons test on Jan. 11 in which it used a missile to shoot down an old weather satellite. Additionally comes word of India working on development of missile shield for satellites. (from IRNA, New Delhi, Jan 23) Fearing that its satellites could be under threat from missiles, India is working on development of a shield for which it is in talks with Russia and other countries having such technology. … China has recently tested one such missile, but the official underlined that India's desire to develop the shield was not prompted by that development. … He said India has been talking to "close friend" Russia and other countries having such technology "for our interest." Besides Russia and China, the technology is available only to the US.

b. Russia Condemns European-based Missile Defense Plans: Russia continues to bang the drum over its extreme displeasure at the prospect of certain elements of the ground-based ballistic missile defense system being installed in Europe, especially in the area formerly known as Eastern Europe and part of the “Near Beyond” about which the Russians have historically been concerned. At issue is location of a ground-based radar site and interceptor field that would provide intercept coverage of US- and European-bound ICBM’s launched from the Middle East (presumably Iran). The current system lacks that capability with the preponderance of its fixed-base radars located in/around the Pacific and interceptors based in Alaska. This current, limited capability is geared against a threat originating from North Korea. Location of a radar site in the Czech Republic and a missile field in Poland by 2012 would go a substantial distance to mitigating the emerging threat from South West Asia. The system continues to grow and evolve – but per force, will always be several steps in capability and numbers behind the kind of offensive nuclear strike capability present in the Russian nuclear inventory, as well as the growing inventory and capability of China. Therefore arguments by Russian defense and foreign ministry officials that this represents an offensive threat or ratcheting up of the arms race are specious at best. The real issue is the view, perceived or real, of loss of influence in areas where once they held sway. Estonia’s recent law to remove Soviet-era war memorials (viewed more as emblematic of Soviet occupation than liberation), for example, invoked similar sharp responses, near hysteric rhetoric from Russian officials and the Russian parliament.

c. Shack – Successful THAAD test: CNN.com, January 27, 2007. The Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency shot down a dummy target missile over the southern Pacific Ocean during a test of the U.S. missile defense shield early Saturday … First, a dummy ballistic missile was fired from a U.S. mobile launch platform in the Pacific Ocean in a simulated attack. Moments later, an interceptor missile was fired from the agency's missile range facility on Hawaii's Kauai Island and struck the dummy warhead over the Pacific Ocean, military footage showed. The mobile, ground-based system is designed to protect the United States from short to intermediate-range high altitude ballistic missile attacks in the North American region, agency spokeswoman Pam Rogers said. The system "intercepts missiles that are shorter range and at the end of their flight trajectory. It is part of the ballistic missile defense system, a layered system that is designed to intercept all types of missiles in all phases of flights," Rogers said. This particular short to intermediate-range interceptor system has been tested four times a year since 2005. "This was our first test since we moved equipment in October from the White Sands missile range in New Mexico ... everything went exceedingly well," Rogers said. (ed: Continued strong comeback for the once sorely troubled THAAD program following a thorough restructuring).

d. Central Command Nominee Cites Naval, Missile Defense (Aerospace Daily & Defense Report, January 31, 2007): U.S. Navy Adm. William Fallon, head of Pacific Command, would emphasize greater missile defense, as well as naval and air superiority in the Persian Gulf and Middle East if he becomes head of Central Command, according to sentiments expressed at his Jan. 30 nomination hearing in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Fallon told senators there was no doubt that North Korea and Iran were exchanging ballistic missile technology and that Iran appears to be shaping its military to deny U.S. aircraft carriers, precision strike and submarine capabilities in the Gulf, or at least to keep them at a distance. The country also is attempting to boost its power through asymmetric means, such as supporting international terrorism and pursuing nuclear weapons, he further said in prepared answers to advance congressional questions. … Fallon, who would be the first admiral to lead CENTCOM, said he figured his nomination stemmed in part from an effort to manage the Middle East "neighborhood" around Iran while Iraq operations will be largely left to Army Gen. David Petraeus.