A Reality Check for the Navy/More Thoughts on the Sat Shootdown

Lest the Navy (or anyone else) get too excited over its demonstration of missile defense technology, here’s a reality check:

If the weather had sucked, they would have delayed it.

And they almost did. But fortunately the seas weren’t too rough come launchtime. But folks, this is ballistic missile defense that we’re talking about here. Missiles don’t get fired when the weather’s great. They get fired when someone hits the trigger. Which is why ground-based defenses like the ones in Alaska (and eventually in Eastern Europe, depending on what the Russians have to say) are ultimately more critical than ships.

It’s also why as missile defense continues to gain momentum, sooner or later its advocates will be renewing their call for space-based weaponry. Ultimately, it’s hard to have a serious missile shield without that. In fact, it’s sufficiently hard that missile defense is likely to become a stalking horse (some would say a trojan horse) for space weaponization. Meaning that when the time comes, such weaponization will be portrayed as a necessary step to realize the full value of investments we’ve already made, rather than the start of a new arms race.

4 Responses to “A Reality Check for the Navy/More Thoughts on the Sat Shootdown”

  1. m.s.williams Says:

    On Feb. 20th 2 Russian TU-95 Intercontinental Strategic Bombers took off from a base in Urkaine flew over Eurasia, violated Japabese Airspace for less than five minutes before turning south and advancing on the USS Aircraft Carrier Nimitz.
    At the 58 mile mark one bomber circled the carrier while the other dropped to an altitude of 2000 feet amd “buzzed” the carrier. As I understand it it was then that the Nimitz launched 4 F/A-18s who then followd the aforementioned bomber on a SECOND high speed low altitude pass over the carrier. The Soviets claimed they were just routine flybys and the US Navy has down played the whole incident.
    Perhaps our sat-knock-out was our announcement to the world that we are ready for any space based arms race anyone would like to try. It just seems to me we’ve never been too interested in falling satelites untill as of late.

  2. Pak Says:

    It looks like the Chinese missile test in high orbit initiated this whole “militarization” of space that will no doubt continue further in the near future.

    Important distinction though: US spaceshot was at a low orbit target that will eventually burn in ATMO. Chinese spaceshot was in high orbit that just further scattered debris all around the original target’s location (i.e. making a space mess).

    Soviet protests are just from being the kid on the block without a toy to play with. Waaah Chinese, Waaaah USA. I’m waiting for a response from EU and Japan space agencies.

  3. David Williams Says:

    re Mark: Good point. That incident kinda crept by under the radar, but I’ll bet it made the Pentagon take notice. (along with Russia’s resumption of eastern seaboard cold war bomber patrols).

    re Pak: A vital distinction, definitely. Chinese ASAT test contributed significantly to total debris up there, and underscores that ASAT weapons above a certain orbit had pretty be more than just KE killers if the winning side wants to actually “win” anything.

    As to who initiated all this, I think we gotta go back to the 50s for that. . . .

  4. David J. Williams » Blog Archive » At the summit Says:

    […] say nothing of the possibility that the current “Son of Stars Wars” will ultimately be a stalking horse for a more robust space-based systems.  The conversation so far has both sides biding their time, […]