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US missile defence plans in Eastern Europe

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I see the Russians are upset (still/again) about the US's plans to plae radar in the Czech Republic and missiles in poland.

My understanding was that these weer going to be "aimed" at missiles coming from the mid east (eg Iran) & would be useless against anythign from the CIS.

Does anyone have a simplified technical explaination of the possible uses/targets for this system? Eg can it actually hit missiles from the CIS?

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My guess is as good as anyones about how effective they are.

But think about it. In 1991 we successfully intercepted most larger ballistic missiles. Go to your attack and get the computer you used in 1991. Now compare to today's computer. OK, bashing Windows Vista doesn't count, look at the hardware and the capabilities it had if Vista didn't wreck them.

Ballistic missiles in turn are still just that: after ascending they are sitting ducks on a ballistic trajectory. They are worse than clay pigeons.

Of course there'll be screwups on part of the defenders, but overall I rate these systems as effective as I can not having tried them myself.

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But think about it. In 1991 we successfully intercepted most larger ballistic missiles.

Are you talking about the Patriots swatting Scuds in GW1? IIMU that the Patriots knocked down a giddy total of maybe 2 Scuds ... and maybe none.

Granted they've made upgrades over the intervening 15 years - it appears they did pretty well in thte same theatre in 2003.

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Red missiles to NA take a ballistic route over the Polar regions, and considering also installations like RAF Fylingdales already exists, so the answer is no.

Even if the amount of operationally reliable missiles are probably still diminishing in their arsenal, due to financial and technical constraints. No amount of newly acquired energy income will turn back time, too much decay have already happened.

Maybe they fear that at some point in the future their deterrent is potentially gone, thanks to advances and experiences gained by the projects like these, learning by doing or somefink.

IMHO, there is no rational reason, but geopolitically the Russians still find it useful to rhetorically attack against the "Western aggression" by using Soviet style, largely for keeping up the appearances for their internal political consumption. Also they believe they can at least partly divide European allies (or rather the EU) by using propagandist pretexts like these, even if energy is much effective political weapon in this regard.

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Yes I was under the impression that there are only limited routes for missiles, and limited routes for interceptors to be effective against missile routes.

global geography has a considerable impact on the usefulness of sites from such things as the velocity missiles and interceptors get from the earth's rotation, etc.

Patriots were, of course, only used against incoming missiles in their terminal phase.

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I am not a fan of the Kremlin, but they have a case here.

Their basic arguement is, the Americans can say whatever they want, but missile defenses deployed in East Europe are destabilizing to the balance of forces between NATO and Russia, and are therefore more evidence of a US effort to increase military threat to Russia, at the same time as Russia faces a rapidly-arming China, and a southern border made increasingly unsafe due to US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

When it comes to AAM missiles in East Europe, they are destabilizing to the military status quo in several ways.

1. A portion of the Russian conventional force capacity aimed at Europe depends on SSM. The new US missile system will inhibits that capacity.

2. The new US missile system is according to advertisements aimed only at individual launches from the Middle East, but the US does not always tell the truth, and technology marches on. Were the US to increase the density of the AAM, or their reach, the system in East Europe could intercept Russian strategic missiles launched at the US or even China. Indeed, who's to say the missiles to be put into Europe don't already have that kind of reach; all the Russians have to go on is the word of the Americans. Anything that could reduce a Russian strategic missile strike capacity is hugely destabilizing and by definition dangerous as, obviously, if the US could figure out a way of shooting ICBM at Russia and preventing Russia from retaliating, then the US gains a nuclear first strike capacity against Russia. The scenario is far-fetched, but the price of reading the situation wrong is either losing a nuclear war or, more practically, Russia losing its ability to harm the US in a nuclear strike.

3. The Russians have their own intelligence in the Middle East, and it does not depend on the Israeli Mossad. The Russian read of the Iran's capacity and intentions is almost diametrically opposed to the official US position. As far as the Russians are concerned, Iran does not have the capacity to strike Europe, Iran isn't really trying hard to develop that capacity, Iran's nuclear program is not much of a threat, and bottom line if the Israelis and Pakistanis - both US allies - can have nuclear weapons, why shouldn't the Iranians have nukes to defend themselves against that real threat posed by US allies? After all, right now Israel has a nuclear first strike capacity against Iran, and Iran cannot retaliate. So, from the Russian POV, demonizing Iran is both silly and against Russian interest.

And without the assumption of a nutso Iran out to turn Tel Aviv or Amsterdam or London to glass, there is little reason to deploy AMM into East Europe - unless of course the point to the AMM system is not to deter Iran, but rather to undermine Russian nuclear capacity.

A Russian policy maker can only buy into the East Europe missile program if he assumes (a) the US is telling the truth and Russian intelligence is wrong and (B) the US has abandoned its competition with Russia for domination of Europe and the Middle East. Sure, the Americans think they have, they like to tell each other the Cold War is over because the Americans won. But the Russians don't see it that way, they look at things longer term, and without much trust.

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And if I say something about missile defence, like "I agree that missiles should be defended at all times" that takes my post count up to 248.

Hang on, there's a thread over there about the forum being down! Bye!

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As I understand it, the US missile defense is targeted against single missiles. Would´nt it need to be much more massive to counter a full russian ICBM strike ?

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3. The Russians have their own intelligence in the Middle East, and it does not depend on the Israeli Mossad. The Russian read of the Iran's capacity and intentions is almost diametrically opposed to the official US position. As far as the Russians are concerned, Iran does not have the capacity to strike Europe, Iran isn't really trying hard to develop that capacity, Iran's nuclear program is not much of a threat, and bottom line if the Israelis and Pakistanis - both US allies - can have nuclear weapons, why shouldn't the Iranians have nukes to defend themselves against that real threat posed by US allies? After all, right now Israel has a nuclear first strike capacity against Iran, and Iran cannot retaliate. So, from the Russian POV, demonizing Iran is both silly and against Russian interest.

And without the assumption of a nutso Iran out to turn Tel Aviv or Amsterdam or London to glass, there is little reason to deploy AMM into East Europe - unless of course the point to the AMM system is not to deter Iran, but rather to undermine Russian nuclear capacity.

Well, we can all thank the Iranians for confirming the assumption today, eh?

"Iran reportedly test-fires 9 missiles"

http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/07/09/mideast/iran.php

Russia better be right about Iran not being nutso, as 1,250 miles is enough to hit Moscow.

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Kiev is the Ukraine - the Russians don't mind if the Ukraine gets nuked.

big Duke - whilst eth US administration is famous for not telling the truth, nor the whole truth and not even anythign but the truth, the technical aspects of missles and radars are generally pored over by analysts teh world over and what htey can and cannot hit is pretty much public knowledge.

Furtehr teh direction radars are aimed in is pretty simple to determine - if its fixed then it ain't going to be picking up anythinh coming from the wrong direction - if it's rotating then all bets are off, and things like that.

Further the count of missiles deployed is pretty simple to establish - the US wants to put 10 missiles in poland. An SS-20 famously has 3 MIRV's - so the Polish base would account for 3 1/3rd SS20's if it got 100% hits...nd of course if the SS20's were still in service....but it shows the miniscule effect such a base would have on any Soviet use of ballistic misiles.

And of course it presumes that the Soviets see a need to use missiles in the first place....which has to call into question their peaceful co-existance with Europe!!

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Ukraine is an interesting case, as the US is openly giving Ukrainians an option (not free) to seek a Western alignment. Naturally any hopes of membership in the NATO requires drastic reforms inside Ukraine, and popular support backing those reforms (which is not currently the case), and even more profound social and economic reforms for any hopes of becoming a EU member.

Russia sees this as worrisome, but not overtly so, as Eastern Ukraine has an ethnic Russian population, which is firmly in mother Russia's hands and can be used in many innovative ways to destabilize the country to a certain degree.

This fortunate situation for the Kreml is subjected to change if and when easily exploitable oil and gas reserves are starting to become exhausted, and they once again face the risk of social and financial turmoil. They are trying to diversify their economy, but without real success, as they have non other than themselves to blame in this regard, what comes to their existing repressive bureaucracy, deeply corrupted officials and other state actors and especially nonexistent legal system (proprietary rights or offering any legal remedies against the all-powerful official machinery), all of those in a need of immense improvement for any meaningful diversification to take place. Even if the ordinary Russians believe that political power would and should grow out of the barrel of a gun and are quite happy to live under an authoritarian state.

Naturally the West must take a note of these developments, and tone down the expectations.

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Lars,

Capacity is not the same as threat. Just because the Iranians maybe, in some kind of murky future, could launch an nuclear-tipped missile at Israel or Prague, doesn't mean the Iranians will have that capacity, or would be likely to use it.

After all, the Israelis have had nuclear weapons since about 1970, and they have yet to nuke their enemies. Using your logic Iran has no choice but to develop nuclear weapons to use against Israel, as the Israelis already have the capacity to turn Tehran into glass, and to your way of thinking capacity must always equal real threat, and worst-case threat must be countered.

The Russians have plenty of enemies and bogeymen of their own, so they have no stake in considering Israel a hero-state, or Iran a James Bond evil-state. As far as Iran is concerned, all the Russians have to do is worry about reality as best they see it, and their interests. I would say this outlook is different from the US official view of Iran, which appears to be to take Mossad reports at face value so as to convince the US population the evil Moslems are out to get them, and perhaps coincidentally to keep the price of oil nice and high.

We can debate the motivations behind the US position on Iran forever, but the Russian position on Iran and European ABM is clear: Whatever potential threat the Iranians might pose to nuclear stability at some indefined point down the line, is peanuts compared to anything that screws with the nuclear balance between the US and Russia. The Russians simply do not believe the Americans when they say the ABM technology cannot be expanded nor could it ever be used to undermine Soviet strike capacity.

The Russians are well aware the US quit the 1972 ABM treaty (December 2001) and that, therefore, there is no US-Russia agreement limiting the development of ABM technologies. True, that US decision may have made some sense at the time, in December 2001 the US decision-makers were in anti-Islamic terrorist panic mode and the US military was in no wars; and at the same time Russia was a weak chaotic state with no way of collecting taxes, mostly drunken rulers, and a supposedly no-win war against an Moslem insurgency of its own.

That US decision does not seem so bright now that Russia has a fairly effective authoritarian government run by mostly smart KGB operatives, it has pretty much killed off the Moslem insurgency, and oil is at 140+ bucks a barrel so if the Russians choose to pour money into an arms buildup, well, they can. It's not like they have big wars tying down their military expenditures, as the US does as they are now tied down in not one but two wars against Islamic insurgencies.

For Russia, the only reasonable interpetation of a deployment of an ABM system into East Europe by the US in 2009 - 2010 is that the Americans intend to develop major ABM capacity, and that this is the first step. After all, it was the Americans not the Russians that bailed out on the ABM treaty in 2001, and it is Russia not Iran that has ICBMs targeted on the US.

The only way for the Russians to think otherwise is, to take the US government's statements on Iran and on ABM intentions, and the Iranian President's statements on Israel, at face value and interpet those statements in the most favorable way possible for the US.

It is ludicrous to expect people in the Kremlin will do that. The Russians' only possible counter can be to increase nuclear strike capacity, short term meaning targeting more nuclear-tipped missiles at Europe, and longer-term developing missiles that can overcome US ABM, and targeting them at the US.

Now Lars, I don't know about you, but to me that kind of inevitable and I do mean inevitable increase in the threat of a major nuclear war - trust me, this is something the Russians take extremely seriously - just isn't worth the reduction of a marginal Iranian threat to Europe and Israel, sometime in the indefinate future.

If you want to argue otherwise, that Russia might not react the way I have suggested, or that Iran really is as bad as the US administration makes it out to be, take your best shot.

I am sure you and I will agree, however, that if the US actually puts in that ABM system, whatever the geopolitical implications, it will be just great for companies like Rayathon.

Abbott,

Well maybe someday you can figure out a way to launch that school bus of yours at Kiev. The Ukrainians could really use some one like you to sort out the traffic, it's getting so a guy needs covering fire just to change lanes. Just the sort of conditions for a considerate and friendly driver such as yourself.

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One point I haven't seen mentioned a lot is the X-Band Radar to be build in Czechia. As far as I understand the system, this is a high-resolution radar able to sort decoys from real warheads, with a range over much of Russia up to the north as far as Island.

I havent researched yet where the russians (if at all) test their missiles and systems, but what they get here is a neighbour constantly spying on anything moving in a large part of their air space. X-Band is a "basically optical" wave, so likely the curvature of the earth will put much of russia's lower air space in the shadow, but they may well have concerns that the system will be used to keep an eye on them.

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Abbott,

Well maybe someday you can figure out a way to launch that school bus of yours at Kiev.

Good morning Dukester...the bus is moving along nicely. I would enjoy using it to see the Ukraine, how's the fishing?

pass_side1.JPG

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And a fine good morning to you Abbott

Fishing unfortunately is a bit thin in most places because the hobby is very popular, and Ukrainians are very much into personal food production to boot. I hear the fishing is excellent in the Chernobyl Zone, the Pripet River up that way supposedly has huge pike, catfish, and carp, not so many people wanting to eat the fish in those woods.

Of course to get out this way you would have to drive across the Atlantic, not that the engineering challenge is beyond you, but if I were you I would be really sure of my water-proof caulking.

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And a fine good morning to you Abbott

Fishing unfortunately is a bit thin in most places because the hobby is very popular, and Ukrainians are very much into personal food production to boot. I hear the fishing is excellent in the Chernobyl Zone, the Pripet River up that way supposedly has huge pike, catfish, and carp, not so many people wanting to eat the fish in those woods.

Of course to get out this way you would have to drive across the Atlantic, not that the engineering challenge is beyond you, but if I were you I would be really sure of my water-proof caulking.

I could always strap a Bigduck to it, maybe right over the front fender.

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Wicky,

I saw something about that, too. Apparently, in one highly publicized four missile launch, only three actually fired, but Iranian digital retouch made the other one fly anyway.

Bigduke6,

The Israelis came perilously close to slagging both the Aswan High Dam and Kiev during the Yom Kippur War. Apparently, Golda Meir learned Israel had the Bomb when Moshe Dayan, the Defense Minister, came to her and started talking about the Second Temple

in the early part of the war when the Bar Lev Line had been breached and the Syrians had seized the Golan Heights. ISTR this version of what happened is given in her autobiography, GOLDA.

SSgt Viljuri,

PBS's "Wired Science" here in the States had a stunning example of the concept you cite. Seems the Estonians no longer wanted a Russian war memorial prominently displayed smack in the center of the capital, Tallinn, and relocated it to a cemetery. Next thing you know, ethnic Russians still there take to the streets and riot in a big way. That was nothing, though, compared to what followed: a comprehensive worldwide cyber attack against Estonia via botnets, networks of zombie computers all asking for the same data at once. Took down the bank, ATMs, knocked out a slew of media and official government sites, focing Estonia to temporarily disconnect itself from the Internet while progressively running down each and every zombie and contacting said zombie's ISP. Sleuthing revealed that Russian chatrooms were alive with dire threats before the attack and gloating afterwards, but Russia's own government Internet security experts claimed utter ignorance and complete indifference when interviewed. Rang decidedly hollow, especially since decompiling the code which turned innocent site visitors' computers into zombies revealed Russian programmers were behind it.

Regards,

John Kettler

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It isn't. It's about 2000 km and heres the range graph for that:

http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/44818000/gif/_44818735_iran_missile_range226_a.gif

How odd. I looked it up again, Moscow is 1529 miles to Tehran.

Of course, you wouldn't make it launching from Tehran, you'd have to do it from somewhere up on the northern border.

Somebody down at the Beeb sure draws a crappy map.

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