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Published On: Mon, Apr 6th, 2015

$10 billion missile defense program dead after many failures

The US “wasted” $10 billion on missile defense projects which were “doomed for failure from the beginning,” due to a lack of analysis, a report by the Los Angeles Times says. The article asserts that these failures appear to also threaten US security.

America’s maritime based X-Band Radar (SBX) was hailed by the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) as having the potential to become the most powerful radar of its kind in the world. However, the SBX proved to be n expensive flop as the Los Angeles Times revealed the project eventually cost $2.2 billion is now lying idle in Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.

The project was set to be operational in 2005.

photo: TaxRebate.org.uk

photo: TaxRebate.org.uk

Henry A. Obering III, a retired director of the Missile Defense Agency, said at a Senate hearing in April 2007 that “if we place it in Chesapeake Bay, we could actually discriminate and track a baseball-sized object over San Francisco.”

Despite all the hype, the failure of the SBX was just the tip of the iceberg. It was one of four projects which were abandoned and caused embarrassment for the MDA, while they ended up costing the US tax payer $10 billion.

The SBX, which is a floating radar system, was designed to spot incoming missiles and track them through space, while it would also guide rocket interceptors to eliminate the threat. The project was so advanced that it could tell the difference between actual missiles and decoy rockets.

The problem with the sea-based radar was its field of vision (25 degrees compared to 90 and 120 degrees of conventional radars) cannot be relied upon to track a number of incoming missiles at the same time.

“Although it can powerfully magnify distant objects, its field of vision is so narrow that it would be of little use against what experts consider the likeliest attack: a stream of missiles interspersed with decoys,” the report says.

Basic science eluded the designers as they forgot to take into account the earth’s curvature. Due to this factor, the SBX would not be able to see a baseball around 2,500 miles away, unless the ball was travelling at an altitude of 870 or more miles above San Francisco.

Technical experts told the Los Angeles Times that this is about 200 miles higher than a conventional missile would travel at if it was heading for the US.

“In the practical world of ICBM [inter-continental ballistic missile] threats, this baseball analogy is meaningless,” said C. Wendell Mead, an aerospace engineer who served on the National Academy of Sciences panel.

“You can spend an awful lot of money and end up with nothing,” said Mike Corbett, a retired Air Force colonel who oversaw the agency’s contracting for weapons systems from 2006 to 2009. “MDA spent billions and billions on these programs that didn’t lead anywhere.”

This is just another embarrassing failure for the MDA after the Airborne Laser system was canceled in 2012, a decade after it was projected to go live.

That project would incorporate converted Boeing 747s which would fire laser beams at missiles soon after they were launched.

The only problem with the $5.3 billion project, was that the lasers could only be fired from a short range, meaning the planes would have to get very close to where the missiles were to be launched from and would be vulnerable for missile defense systems.

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About the Author

- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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