pvolcko wrote:And one of the big goals of the missile defense system now is to make it prohibitively expensive for countries like Iran, NK, etc. to build enough missiles and warheads and/or develop countermeasure technology to defeat the system. So there is some of that "out spend them to victory" logic at work here.
People like to claim that "they only have to be lucky once" and while there is some truth to that, in an absolutist sense, the truth is they want to be lucky a lot more than that and even if such a system is only 25% or 50% effective that is still many many lives saved and assets protected and worth the investment.
Lastly, the system has come some way since the "star wars" days. Tracking, target identification, computer analysis power, lessons learned from the cold war and events since, and the fact that we aren't primarily concerned with sub launched attacks were there is very little time to react, but rather land based launches from well watched (or at least watchable) nations and locations. And even with a short and medium range attack (say under 1000 km) there are shells of protection and defensive systems in place (Arrow, Patriot, etc.) with a proven track record to hopefully deal with those threats.
We're making progress. I believe the goal is achievable. And I think the ramifications with Russia and China are quite manageable through negotiation and eventually bringing them under the system's protection with some level of cooperation and shared C&C for their regions. I support the system's continued development and deployment.
Any ABM system is easily overwhelmed by decoy targets. What happens is the detector sensor, be it radar, infrared, UV, etc. can not discriminate between targets in it's field of view. The defensive missile is likely to shoot down a decoy. Offensive missiles are easy and relatively cheap to equip with decoys. You just can not identify the correct target. Yes, decoys have different aerodynamic characteristics but by the time you identify the decoys it's to late.
While there have been successful ABM test firings all have been designed in such a way to avoid any decoy discrimination problems. The science behind the sensors needed to detect a hostile missile hasn't changed since the referenced Delta satellite research programs. Let me restate the problem another way. There are not enough photons, electrons, magnetic fields or whatever you want to measure, radiating from a hostile missile, compared to the background of space to detect. No development program is ever going to change that. Sure there is a large rocket plume during the launch phase to detect, but that lasts only a short period of time. If you base targeting on the launch phase, you have only seconds for a go, no-go to kill decision. Would you want a ABM system on automatic mode? Of course not. But now the time window for human decision has passed. The next president wouldn't have enought time to answer the phone at 3 AM. Believe me, I was one of many engineers and scientists trying to find a workable solution.