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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, July 24


Liliana Modiliani, a well-known Russian stylist, will talk about choosing clothes that fit during her lecture at 7 p.m. at the Pryamoy Efir art club, 13 Viborgskoe Shosse.



Friday, July 25


Discuss Russias economic and political prospects for 2014 during a Business Breakfast organized by SPIBA at 9.30 a.m. in the Bank Saint-Petersburg office at 64


Malookhtinsky Prospekt.


Start your weekend with adorable miniature pigs at the Squealing Pig festival at 7 p.m. this evening in the Karl & Friedrich restaurant, 15 Iozhnaya doroga, on Krestovsky Island.



Saturday, July 26


Hundreds of brand-new and retro cars, drag and drift shows, test drives and karting are planned for the Avtobum-2014 festival, which will take place in front of the RIO shopping center at 2 Fuchika Ulitsa.


Participants in todays SaniDay Summer competition will impress visitors with their hand-made, unusual and hilarious boats, which will race at the Igora Resort near the 54th kilometer on Priozerskoe Shosse.


Metro Family Day will include both serious lectures for adults and master-classes for children, making the event interesting for the whole family. To participate, come to Kirov Park on Yelagin Island.


Photography will be the focus of todays Photosubbota, which features lectures by famous photographers, meetings with photo schools and studio representatives, and participation in a photography competition. The event starts at noon at Petrokongress, 5 Lodeynopolskaya Ulitsa.


If you like cycling, make sure to visit the Za Velogorod Festival with its retro bike exhibition, market and live music. The second round of the Leningrad Criterium race will also take place during the event at Petrovsky Arsenal in Sestroretsk.



Sunday, July 27


Navy Day will be celebrated with a weapon and military transportation exhibition, self-defense master classes and concerts. The event starts at 1 p.m. in the 300th Anniversary Park of St. Petersburg.



Monday, July 28


Dont miss a chance to see the latest achievements in robotics during the RoboDom interactive show, exhibiting more than 150 robots. The show will be at BUM center, 22/2 Gzhatskaya Ulitsa, until Aug. 3. The entrance ticket costs 350 rubles ($10).



Tuesday, July 29


A video of a Queen concert from 1986 will be shown today at 8 p.m. in Yaschik, 50/13 Ligovsky Prospekt.



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