Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Nice new Sprint ABM video

This is probably the best collection of Spartan and Sprint footage on the internet today. If you can find anything new, please help me. What an incredible ABM system, it is really sad that we did not maintain it. Many make the weak argument that ABMs cause instability by breaking down what they see as a stable MAD condition. From my perspective, I think we could share our technology with Russia and Europe. The only real use for ABMs on any reasonable scale would be to protect from accidental launches or limited attacks. Surrounding India and Pakistan for example, or Iran and North Korea.

The hit to kill strategy of modern ABMS (which I think are going to be cancelled under Obama) is a fascinating challenge, and certainly possible (since we landed men on the moon in 1969), but really rather unnecessary. Destroying IRVs with a warhead is by far the most reliable method, it is simple, and it is bound to get all IRVs and decoys in one shot. Why, in the early 80s, did the SDI program (star wars) not instantly move towards a national Spartan and Sprint system? They chose the most expensive, elaborate, and ultimately unrealistic plans.

The conspiracy nut in me wants to think that perhaps, just perhaps, defense contractors want the most expensive and long lasting programs possible. Because it keeps them in work for longer. For the modern ABM plans, I suspect it was more about the public’s (rather irrational) fear of using nuclear weapons to protect people. That is why hit to kill was used. But it is much harder to hit a single target with hit to kill, let alone a MIRVed ICBM with decoys. Not impossible, just very hard.


Anonymous said...

Note that Sprint and Spartan were controlled with ground-based radar and ground-to-missile command links. The effects of the interceptor warheads going off confused the radar and must have made the command links pretty iffy. Still a neat system, but not clear how well it would have worked.

R2K said...

Radars could be made more and more powerful, they could be space based, or placed far away like with the DEW line... Or you could combine the optical seek mechanism from our current hit to kill system but still use a warhead for the kill part.

Also, I think this is more about stopping one or at most a few warheads at any given time. Not for stopping a full scale Soviet attack with hundreds or thousands of warheads. Why not put a Spartan-Sprint system outside of every major city just to prevent accidents or remove the ICBM threat that some nations are starting to build up?

It should be combined with boost-phase lasers or other systems that can surround certain nations (North Korea, Iran, South America, India, Pakistan...)

That is my idea anyway. It would be a good idea to do this in tandem with future reductions in warhead counts. We retain our ability to deter a range of attacks, including terrorist attacks from people who don't care about MAD strategy, and also keep a decent MAD stockpile. Say 100 warheads on ICBMs, no SUB IRBMs, no mobile ICBMs, and a limited number of large scale and tactical warheads for the B1, B2, and B52 fleet. Probably a few dozen. That would be more than enough. What I see is a totally new nuclear profile that saves us money, helps prevent the theft of warheads, but still can provide a deterrent and also a stockpile of warheads which may be needed for other things, such as use in space.

thimscool said...

Or you could combine the optical seek mechanism from our current hit to kill system but still use a warhead for the kill part.