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U.S. Touts Shield Test, But Doubts Remain

Published: December 9, 2008 (Issue # 1432)


WASHINGTON The U.S. military said Friday that it conducted a successful test of its missile-defense system, but that the target failed to deploy measures that experts said could have helped it avoid destruction.

The test took place as the Pentagon braces for more scrutiny of the program after President-elect Barack Obama takes office in January. The system, which officials say is intended to defend against states such as North Korea and Iran, is a flagship policy of the administration of President George W. Bush and a sore point with Russia, which fiercely opposes plans to install elements of the program in Central Europe.

In Fridays test, a target missile was fired from Kodiak, Alaska, and its warhead was destroyed 200 kilometers above the Pacific Ocean by a kill vehicle that detached from an interceptor missile fired from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.

It was the largest, most complex test we have ever done, said U.S. Army Lieutenant General Patrick O Reilly, the head of the Pentagons Missile Defense Agency.

However, the 40-year-old target missile failed to deploy counter-measures. OReilly declined to say what those measures were, but they can include decoys or chaff, which are tiny strips of metal foil used to confuse radar systems.

OReilly said the test was operationally realistic despite the failure of the counter-measures. He said the military had used a network of land and sea-based radars and control systems in the test.

Overall, Im extremely pleased, he said. There are many threats out there today that do not have countermeasures.

But critics of the program, which the Pentagon says has cost about $100 billion since 1999, said it is unrealistic to expect that the United States could face any missile threat that would not include counter-measures.

Any country with the technical capability and the motivation to fire a long-range missile at the U.S. would also have the technical capability and the motivation to add decoys to it that are designed to defeat the defense, David Wright, a physicist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said by e-mail.

According to the Pentagon, this was the eighth successful test of the ground-based interceptor system in 13 attempts since 1999.

Boeing is the prime contractor for the system, which is called the ground-based midcourse defense.

The United States and Russia are at odds over a Bush administration plan to extend the system into Central Europe by using 10 silo-based, two-stage interceptors in Poland and a related radar system in the Czech Republic.

U.S. officials say the system aims to protect the United States and its allies from attacks by states that might fire a small number of missiles, and it could not defend against a country like Russia with a much larger arsenal.

Critics of the program question whether any country would fire a long-range missile at the United States, knowing that it would almost certainly face massive retaliation.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Oct. 2


The celebration of the bicentennial of the birth of Mikhail Lermontov continues with todays free exhibition in the citys Lermontov Library at 19 Liteiny Prospekt. Titled Under the Rustling Wings, the temporary exhibition will feature the costumes and scenery used in the 1917 production of Lermontovs play The Masquerade, which he wrote in 1835 when he was only 21 years old.



Friday, Oct. 3


Learn more about how to manage and evaluate employee performance during SPIBAs Human Resources Committee meeting this morning on Employee Assessment: Global and Local Trends. Starting at 9:30 a.m., the discussion will touch on such topics as the partnership between HR and business, reliable assessment strategies and more, with Tatiana Andrianova, the head of the SHL Russia and CIS branch in St. Petersburg, as the featured guest. Confirm your participation by Oct. 2 by emailing office@spiba.ru or calling 325 9091.


AmChams Procurement Committee Meeting is at 9 a.m. this morning in their office in the New St. Isaac Office Center on Ulitsa Yakubovicha.



Saturday, Oct. 4


Wine and cheese lovers will get their chance to revel during Scandinavia Country Club and Spas Wine Market Weekend. Going on today and tomorrow, wining diners can listen to live music, take part in culinary classes and, of course, sample a variety of fine wines from around the world. The cost of admission is 400 rubles ($10.30) for adults and 200 rubles ($5.15) for children.



Sunday, Oct. 5


Look for the latest fall fashions at the Autumn Market today in Freedom Anticafe at 7 Kazanskaya Ulitsa. The minimarket plans to offer clothes more flattering than the puffy jackets that are a staple of the citys cold-weather fashion, while offering the same amount of protection from the biting winds blowing off of the Baltic.



Monday, Oct. 6


SKA St. Petersburg, the citys KHL affiliate, welcomes Slovakian club HC Slovan in a match-up tonight at the Ice Palace near the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. The puck drops at 7:30 p.m. and tickets can be purchased on the clubs website or in person at either the arenas box office or the clubs merchandise store on Nevsky Prospekt.



Tuesday, Oct. 7


Learn more about Russias energy industry at the St. Petersburg Energy Forum that begins today and runs through Oct. 10. Attracting industry experts and political and business representatives, the forum plans to welcome more than 350 plus companies and their representatives to discuss the future of Russias largest economic sector.



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