Space: The Final Missile Defense Frontier?
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Space: The Final Missile Defense Frontier?


A few curated defense and security links to round off the week:

Over at National Defense Magazine, Marvin Baker Schaffer makes the argument that in order for the United States to be comprehensively equipped for missile defense, particularly against potential Chinese or Russian aggression, it needs to give space-based missile defense systems serious consideration. The problem for U.S. defenses is the ability to defend against ICBMs with multiple independent reentry vehicles (MIRVs), or ICBMs capable of advanced maneuvering. Schaffer describes three potential missile defense configurations, each with a different associated cost, that would bridge this defense shortfall. This first is to use of “brilliant pebbles” — a late-Reagan-era proposal that calls for a matrix of 300 to 1,000 low-Earth orbit spacecraft “at an overall cost of roughly $1 billion.” Second, Schaffer suggests the use of remotely piloted aircraft like the U.S. Air Force’s MQ-9 Reaper. The final option is to look into high-energy solid-state lasers, also in low-Earth orbit (by far the priciest of these three proposals).

According to Defense News, the Indian Air Force is planning on moving ahead with a purchase of 20 Hawk advanced jet trainers despite the Indian Ministry of Defense effectively losing the file that detailed the purchase itself. The bureaucratic mishap has understandably delayed the deal, but according to the report, Indian MoD sources note the delay as only “temporary,” and that “related files on the purchase are being obtained from state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL).”

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Over at War Is Boring, Kyle Mizokami breaks down the reasons why India’s decision to purchase its INS Vikramaditya aircraft carrier from Russia has turned out to be nothing short of a small-scale disaster. The carrier started its life off as the Soviet Union’s Baku, a Kiev-class carrier that was eventually decommissioned in 1988. When the Indian Navy determined that it’d need a new carrier, cheaply and quickly, it turned to Russia. The Russians offered India the carrier for less then a billion dollars. As Mizokami writes, “A real aircraft carrier for less than a billion dollars sounds almost too good to be true. And it was.”

Top U.S. officials lauded their Chinese counterparts for attending the 21st International Seapower Symposium along with 113 other national delegations. The Chinese navy was represented by Admiral Wu Shengli. The symposium comes after an interesting summer in U.S.-China military-military contacts. China participated in RIMPAC 2014, its first time at that exercise. Later in the summer, a Chinese fighter carried out a dangerously close intercept on a U.S. naval surveillance aircraft in international waters, prompting some criticism. Commenting on these incidents, U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus noted that the United States follows acceptable naval protocols, adding that “it’s very dangerous, very problematic when pilots from other countries do not follow those.” He continued, “When they come in too close, they raise the stakes of an incident, of losing life, of losing planes and of stirring up a big international incident. That should not happen.”

Malaysia will resume the search for lost Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 at the end of this month. The search will focus on the southern Indian Ocean region. The passenger jet disappeared in March 2014 and is suspected to have crashed off the western coast of Australia.

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