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Archive for the ‘Star Wars’ Category

Missile Defence Waste: Accountability Office Report

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‘The US is incapable of protecting itself from ballistic missile strikes launched by North Korea and Iran, despite spending billions to develop a defense system which remains unfinished, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office. Published on Feb 18, 2016’.

The DOD has a dedicated website for its missile daydreams, proclaiming that the “Missile Defense Agency’s (MDA) mission is to develop, test, and field an integrated, layered, ballistic missile defense system (BMDS) to defend the United States, its deployed forces, allies, and friends against all ranges of enemy ballistic missiles in all phases of flight”. [1] And continuing as follows: “As we develop, test, and field an integrated Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS), the MDA works closely with the combatant commands (e.g. Pacific Command, Northern Command, etc.) who will rely on the system to protect the United States, our forward deployed forces, and our friends and allies from hostile ballistic missile attack. We work with the combatant commanders to ensure that we develop a robust BMDS technology and development program to address the challenges of an evolving threat. We are also steadily increasing our international cooperation by supporting mutual security interests in missile defense. The MDA is committed to maximizing the mission assurance and cost effectiveness of our management and operations through continuous process improvement”.[2] In spite of these assurances though, the U.S. Government Accountability Office has now issued a damning report: “Missile Defense: Assessment of DOD’s Reports on Status of Efforts and Options for Improving Homeland Missile Defense”, published on 17 February 2016.[3]

US-GovernmentAccountabilityOffice-Logo_svg_The report does not mince its words: “Although DOD’s reports described the benefits of MDA’s ongoing efforts to improve homeland missile defense, we found that MDA faces risks and challenges pursuing these efforts. For example, DOD’s reports stated that the U.S. homeland is currently protected from a limited ballistic missile attack from North Korea and Iran. MDA has demonstrated some of this capability but several other key aspects necessary to prove it can defend the U.S. homeland against the current ballistic missile threat have not been demonstrated. DOD’s reports also described ongoing efforts to meet a directive from the Secretary of Defense to field 44 GMD interceptors by the end of 2017. However, we found that, although MDA has made progress towards achieving the fielding goal, MDA is relying on a highly optimistic, aggressive schedule that overlaps development and testing with production activities, compromises reliability, extends risk to the warfighter, and risks the efficacy of flight testing. In addition, DOD’s report described the potential benefits of MDA’s approach for acquiring the Redesigned Kill Vehicle (RKV), including aligning production decisions with flight testing and including margin in its development schedule. However, MDA may encounter challenges with the RKV’s contract strategy, industry collaboration efforts, and schedule because MDA has not yet negotiated the terms of the RKV modification with the prime contractor, is relying on potential industry competitors to collaborate on developing the RKV, and may need additional time to develop some components for their use in the RKV”.[4] In the following pages of the report, the following sub-heading leaves no doubt about the verdict: “DOD’s Reports Described Progress but MDA Has Not Proven GMD [or Ground-based Midcourse Defense] Can Defend the Homeland and May Experience Challenges Improving the System”.[5] All in all, it seems that the Missile Defense Agency is yet another U.S. government agency mired in corruption and inefficiency.

MDA

 

[1] “MDA MISSION” MDA. http://www.mda.mil/.

[2] “Agency in Brief” MDA. http://www.mda.mil/about/about.html.

[3] “Missile Defense: Assessment of DOD’s Reports on Status of Efforts and Options for Improving Homeland Missile Defense” GAO (16 Feb 2016). http://www.gao.gov/assets/680/675263.pdf.

[4] “Missile Defense: Assessment of DOD’s Reports on Status of Efforts and Options for Improving Homeland Missile Defense”, pp. 2-3.

[5] “Missile Defense: Assessment of DOD’s Reports on Status of Efforts and Options for Improving Homeland Missile Defense”, p. 6.

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NATO Council Brussels: Getting Ready for Chicago

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen answers questions from the press before the beginning of NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs Meetings in Brussels.

(7 December 2011)

Afghanistan, Kosovo, Russia, missile defence . . . Fogh Rasmussen talks and talks, but what does it mean???  It seems somewhat ironic to hear him use some of his talking points to dissuade Russia from stepping up its defensive posture against U.S. and NATO plans to build a hugely expensive system “to protect our populations against a real missile threat”. It also seems unclear which “real missile threat” he is referring to, as Iran’s nuclear weapons’ system is suspected but as yet unproven, while Tehran’s existing missiles are clearly not capable of carrying any kind of warhead to faraway places, while North Korea (DRNK) possesses a nuclear capability that is real yet not oftentimes discussed. The NATO Secretary General also warned Russia not to build up any kind of missile shield counterweight, calling it a “waste of valuable money”, as if the building of the NATO missile defence system was a sound and secure investment, sure to yield profits. In reality, the only party set to profit from NATO’s plans would be the much-vaunted Military-Industrial Complex (also known as Mic),[1] yet the Dane instead warns the Russians not to agitate against an “artificial enemy that does not exist”. Rogue states, wielding nuclear sticks, and international terrorist organisations, disposing of SPECTRE-like assets, on the other hand, are much more realistic properties to frighten the global population, Rasmussen seems to insinuate . . . Still, the indications are that a New Cold War is well and truly underway now, Russia, China, and Iran appear determined to oppose the will of the West, in spite of the West’s insistence that “real missile threat” is being neutralised by means of the expensive and unproven missile defence shield.[2]

Turkey, the new pseudo-Ottoman player in the Middle East, is an important part of the projected shield, supposedly not aimed at Russia or Iran. As reported by the AA news agency, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet ‘Davutoglu held a press conference in Brussels after attending the meeting of NATO foreign ministers. The latest developments in Balkans, Afghanistan and other issues were discussed in the NATO meeting, he said’.[3]  The wily Turk also held meetings with Hillary Clinton and his Portuguese counterpart Paulo Portas: ‘Davutoglu said Balkans, xenophobia, EU, elections in Egypt and the latest situation in Syria were discussed in his meeting with U.S. Secretary of State’.[4]  And here is a clip showing the NATO Secretary General holding a press conference following the North Altantic Council meeting in Foreign Ministers session.

(8 December 2011) 


[1] Cfr. “Military Industrial Complex (Snarkipedia #1)”, https://sitanbul.wordpress.com/2011/01/22/snarkipedia-no-cure-for-that/.

[2] C. Erimtan, “The Arab Awakening and the never-ending Cold War” Hürriyet Daily News (22 June 2011). http://t.co/mdyly4E, C. Erimtan, The New Cold War: Missile Shield Competition” IRCNL (15 October 2011). http://tiny.cc/2gkny.

[3] “Turkish FM Says Progress in Solution of Regional Issues” AA (08 December 2011). http://www.turkishweekly.net/news/127600/turkish-fm-says-progress-in-solution-of-regional-issues.html.

[4] “Turkish FM Says Progress in Solution of Regional Issues”.

NASA’s Kepler Mission Announces Latest Planetary Discovery

The Kepler mission’s science team announced its latest finding at a press conference on Monday, Dec. 5, 2011. The team announced the confirmation of Kepler-22b, its first planet found in the “habitable zone,” the region where liquid water could exist on a planet’s surface. The planet is about 2.4 times the radius of Earth, orbits around a star similar to our sun and is located 600 light-years away. Scientists don’t yet know if Kepler-22b has a predominantly rocky, gaseous or liquid composition, but its discovery is a step closer to finding Earth-like planets. The planet’s host star belongs to the same class as our sun, called G-type, although it is slightly smaller and cooler. Kepler also has discovered 1,094 new planet candidates, nearly doubling its previously known count. Since the last catalog was released in February, the number of planet candidates identified by Kepler has increased by 89 percent and now totals 2,326. Of these, 207 are approximately Earth-size, 680 are super Earth-size, 1,181 are Neptune-size, 203 are Jupiter-size and 55 are larger than Jupiter. The findings, based on observations conducted May 2009 to September 2010, show a dramatic increase in the numbers of smaller-size planet candidates (5 December 2011).

 

China’s Underground Great Wall: The New Cold War Gears Up!!!

Here is an educational video made by the Georgetown University, Washington DC, for the “Arms Control Seminar”, describing China’s “Underground Great Wall” tunnel network, which plays an important role in China’s nuclear deterrence capability by enabling China to have a survivable second strike ability, while simultaniously masking the true number of China’s nuclear arsenal. By 2011, the “Underground Great Wall” is reported to amass 3500 miles in total, hiding an estimated number of 2500 to 3000 nuclear warheads. The “Underground Great Wall” also hides underground production/enrichment facilities and nuclear reactors for additional warhead production.

The Lagos-based digital journalist John Thomas Didymus writes in the Digital Journal that a “group of students at the Georgetown University, working under Professor Phillip Karber, a former Pentagon strategist, have raised concerns after their study concluded China has a stockpile of nuclear weapons far larger than anybody ever suspected. According to the study report, the Chinese have an extensive network of tunnels which they call their “Underground Great Wall of China.” The network of tunnels, running into thousands of miles, are used to hide China’s ever growing stockpile of nuclear weapons. The Washington Post reports that although existence of the underground tunnels was known in the West, there was very little information about them. The U.S. students and their professor relied primarily on incidental Chinese sources. They worked on evidence collected from hundreds of translated Chinese documents, military journals, local news reports, military forums, syllabuses of Chinese military academies, online photos posted by private Chinese citizens, satellite imagery and online other data”.[1]  In conjunction with recent reports that Russia is planning to deploy nuclear warheads in Kaliningrad in opposition to NATO’s planned ‘missile defense shield’, and Tehran’s announcement that Russia, China, and Iran are planning the construction of a complete missile defence system as well, this Georgetown report all but underlines that the New Cold War is heating up unbeknownst to the world’s public opinion, still focused on the illusory enemy known only as Al Qaeda and on Islam as the civilisation to threaten the West’s hegemony, as prescribed by Willy Claes in the early 1990s.[2]

Adding poignancy to his ominous words, Didymus asserts that “[e]stimates of China’s nuclear warheads fall between 80 to 400. But the students and their professor claim that the “Underground Wall of China” hides a more massive and sophisticated nuclear arsenal than the U.S. or any other government suspects. According to Karber, judging from the scale of China’s underground network of tunnels, China’s nuclear warheads could be as many as 3,000”, clarifying that the “students study group compiled a 363-page report which has not yet been published. Copies, however, have been read by top U.S. government officials in the Pentagon, and a Congressional hearing and meetings have been held over the Revelations of the report. The report, according to The Washington Post, is the most comprehensive body of information on the “Underground Great Wall of China.” The Second Artillery Corp, which is responsible for digging and maintaining the tunnels, is also the arm of the People’s Liberation Army responsible for deploying China’s ballistic missiles and nuclear warheads”.[3]  And in an effort to appear even-handed Didymus avows that “[s]ome experts have, however, raised questions on the research method of Professor karber and his students. Some critics say the Internet-based research, which went as far as draw evidence from a fictionalized TV docudrama about Chinese Artillery soldiers, is unorthodox and its conclusions questionable”.[4]

Karber’s methods and conclusions may be “questionable”, but the fact that the New Cold War is slowly gearing up seems incontrovertible. As voiced by Didymus, “biggest threat is that it may ignite an East-West nuclear arms race”.[5]  Or, is this yet another chapter in Washington-sponsored fear-mongering???

 


[1] John Thomas Didymus, “U.S. study claims massive underground Chinese nuclear stockpile” Digital Journal (01 December 2011). http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/315336.

[2] C. Erimtan, “The end of multiculturalism, Islamophobia and the role of NATO” Today’s Zaman (23 November 2010). http://tiny.cc/e0crj,

[3] John Thomas Didymus, “U.S. study claims massive underground Chinese nuclear stockpile”.

[4] John Thomas Didymus, “U.S. study claims massive underground Chinese nuclear stockpile”.

[5] John Thomas Didymus, “U.S. study claims massive underground Chinese nuclear stockpile”.

The New Cold War Heats Up: Russia to deploy Missiles in Kaliningrad

Even though nobody seems to acknowledge Grand Ayatollah’s Khamenei’s public declaration of the start of the New Cold War in the Iranian newspaper Kayhan, on Sunday, 25 September 2011,[1] now EuroNews reports on Russian designs to offset NATO missiles in Europe: ‘Russia could deploy missiles to its EU borders aimed at missile defence facilities in Europe planned by the United States. Iskander missiles, which have a range of up to 500 kilometres, may be stationed in the Kaliningrad exclave, if Washington goes ahead with a defence system whose sites would be in countries close enough to pose a threat to Russia. NATO had been trying to broker a deal for Russia’s cooperation with the US plan, but refused Russia’s proposal to run the system jointly’.

The Kayhan piece indicates “that ‘unofficial sources’ have declared that Iran, Russia, and China are now holding talks regarding the establishment of a joint missile defence shield as a counterweight to a NATO defence shield. The Iranian article hints at the fact that Russian and Chinese decision-makers have come to the conclusion that NATO’s talk of “rogue states” is nothing but a ruse and that the real reason for setting up a missile defence system is to do with American trepidation concerning the rise of Russia and China. In this context, the age-old game of alliance-building has led these players to approach Tehran for participation in this scheme. According to the Kayhan piece, the U.S. is also planning to include South Korea and Taiwan in its missile shield plans, ostensibly aimed at Kim Jong-il’s regime in North Korea. The recent Sino-American spat over U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, worth $5.8 billion, clearly indicate that Beijing would view any such development with suspicion and apprehension. Bringing matters to a head is Dmitry Rogozin, Russia’s NATO-envoy, recent trip to Iran. Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast stated that this visit was realized in the context of strengthening Tehran-Moscow relations and their ‘strategic and regional’ cooperation. If the Kayhan report reflects reality then a New Cold War has begun in earnest. During the Cold War, the U.S. and the USSR adhered to a strategy appropriately termed MAD or Mutual Assured Destruction. In the 21st century, however, ostensibly defensive missiles would be weighed against each other in an equally barmy contest to protect territories from incoming missile strikes”.[2]

 


[1] C. Erimtan, The New Cold War: Missile Shield Competition” IRCNL (15 October 2011). http://tiny.cc/2gkny.

[2] C. Erimtan, The New Cold War: Missile Shield Competition”.

An Asteroid Impact Can Ruin Your Whole Day. And Your Species

Phil Plait is an astronomer, author, and science advocate. His blog, Bad Astronomy, is hosted by Discover Magazine, and he writes about news and current issues facing science. A common topic is astronomical doomsday: ways mythical and real the world can end. He’s fascinated by asteroid and comet impacts, and is a big supporter of finding, tracking, and ultimately deflecting any dangerous rocks heading our way. He spoke on this topic in Boulder on 11 October 2011.

 

Apophis is of concern, and the inimitable astrophycist Neil deGrasse Tyson has already spoken about this celestial body with great verve, conviction, and humour. On 19 February 2008, he expounded on Apophis, while visiting California.

 

NASA’s Near Earth Object Program optimistically proclaims that the ‘future for Apophis on Friday, April 13 of 2029 includes an approach to Earth no closer than 29,470 km (18,300 miles, or 5.6 Earth radii from the center, or 4.6 Earth-radii from the surface) over the mid-Atlantic, appearing to the naked eye as a moderately bright point of light moving rapidly across the sky. Depending on its mechanical nature, it could experience shape or spin-state alteration due to tidal forces caused by Earth’s gravity field. This is within the distance of Earth’s geosynchronous satellites. However, because Apophis will pass interior to the positions of these satellites at closest approach, in a plane inclined at 40 degrees to the Earth’s equator and passing outside the equatorial geosynchronous zone when crossing the equatorial plane, it does not threaten the satellites in that heavily populated region. Using criteria developed in this research, new measurements possible in 2013 (if not 2011) will likely confirm that in 2036 Apophis will quietly pass more than 49 million km (30.5 million miles; 0.32 AU) from Earth on Easter Sunday of that year (April 13)’.[1]

 


[1] “Predicting Apophis’ Earth Encounters in 2029 and 2036” Near Earth Object Program. http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/apophis/.

China’s Military Power on the Rise: Yellow Peril Redux???

China’s growing military capability has been a growing concern among Asian countries in recent years. The issue is expected to be one of the key points on the agenda of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in Hawaii this week. Al Jazeera‘s Melissa Chan reports from Beijing, the Chinese capital.

China’s People’s Liberation Army — the world’s largest military – is apparently giving rise to sudden headaches and panic attacks all around the Pacific Rim, as APEC Leaders and Ministers meet in Honolulu. These dignitaries are set to talk about economic cooperation and commercial growth, but will the Middle Kingdom’s newfound military vigour cast its shadow across the deliberations???  Between 8-13 November, these men will get together ‘under the theme “Toward a Seamless Regional Economy” while Trade and Foreign Ministers will convene on November 11 to advance APEC’s three priorities for 2011. APEC Finance Ministers will also meet on November 10 to focus on policies to strengthen the global recovery and bring about strong, sustained and more balanced growth to boost job creation and income throughout the region’, as APEC’s dedicated website informs.[1]  Additionally, an ‘APEC CEO Summit will also be held from November 11-12, drawing business leaders from around the region. US President Barack Obama, who will host APEC Leaders, is expected to join Leaders and CEOs for discussions on issues impacting business’.[2]

As The Australian’s China correspondent Michael Sainsbury wrote last August, “CHINA’S military build-up could be “potentially destabilising” in the Asia-Pacific region, the Pentagon said as it released its annual report on the country’s military, which estimates the nation’s annual spending on its armed forces at $US160 billion ($153bn). The unprecedented military modernisation project by Asia’s most powerful country has already seen the emergence of its first aircraft carrier and stealth fighter jet this year – but cyber warfare is rising as a critical issue”.[3]  All the while, the missile defence shield initiative appears to have also ushered in a new arms’ race between the West (the U.S. and NATO) and the East (China, Russia, and Iran).[4]  Will G.G. Rupert 1911 book The Yellow Peril; or, Orient vs. Occident become a blueprint for the 21st century as the New Cold War is slowly becoming an as yet unrecognised reality???


[1] “APEC Leaders, Ministers to meet to strengthen regional trade” APEC (05 November 2011). http://www.apec.org/Press/News-Releases/2011/1105_Honolulu.aspx.

[2] “APEC Leaders, Ministers to meet to strengthen regional trade”.

[3] Michael Sainsbury, “Pentagon cautions on China military might” The Australian (26 August 2011). http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/pentagon-cautions-on-china-military-might/story-e6frg6so-1226122390601.

[4] C. Erimtan, The New Cold War: Missile Shield Competition” IRCNL (15 October 2011). http://tiny.cc/2gkny.