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16.04.2008

April 16, 2008

Oskar Krejčí

AN OUTDATED RADAR. Part 1

There can be no doubt that the US NMD program is aimed at Russia and China

The RPMonitor Editorial Board received this text from the association Res Publica (Prague, Czech Republic). The booklet represents the analysis made by a competent Czech expert, who concludes that the deployment of the US AMD in Eastern and Central Europe is unnecessary, inexpedient and vain. With kind permission of the author and the publisher we reproduce the publication which we suggest interesting and useful in view of the recent sharp polemics about highly controversial US intention to deploy AMD radars and other components in some European countries – not far from the borders of Russia.

The programme for the construction of the radar in the Czech Republic and the missile base in Poland is outdated. At least, that is what the authors of the remarkable two-hundred-page Report of an Independent Working Group on Missile Defence, the Space Relationship and the 21st Century have claimed. They have not been recruited from the opponents, but on the contrary from the ranks of the prominent defenders of the missile defence system at such prestigious workplaces as the Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis, the Heritage Foundation, High Frontier, the Claremont Institute or the George C. Marshall Institute. According their conclusions, the creation of the radar base in the Czech Republic is unnecessary. In their opinion, a truly functioning project which would prevent a "cosmic Pearl Harbour" would have to contain three main components:

- Space weapons systems, especially those which have already been prepared at the turn of the 1980s and 1990s within the framework of the Brilliant Pebbles project;

- Modernized naval systems;

- Only two land stations, both in the USA, specifically in Alaska and California, but not in Europe.

 

* * *

The system, whose components should also include the American military base in the Czech Republic, has been built from its inception as part of the US National Missile Defence (NMD), i.e. for the protection of the territory of the United States. However, the radar in the Czech Republic and the missiles in Poland are presented nowadays as part of the defence of Europe. This is the case, for example, in the twelve-page brochure Proposed U.S. Missile Defense Assets In Europe. In it, North Korea no longer poses a threat, only Iran.

According to the arguments contained in this brochure, the bases in the Czech Republic and in Poland would serve only as back-ups in relation to the USA Ц the Unites States should be primarily protected by the base in Greenland. The bases in the Czech Republic and Poland are apparently designated mainly for the protection of Europe. Of course, even given this concept, the command of the entire global system (the US Ballistic Missile Defence System Ц BMDS) will remain in American hands (pages 5 and 6). It is necessary to add that illustration number 1 from this brochure does not look convincing Ц a missile destroyed above the Baltic is probably not aimed at Europe.

The topics which are now stirring the Czech political scene have been discussed in the USA Ц at least during the budget debates Ц for more than half a century. The missile development programme for these purposes began with a memorandum from first lieutenant Jacob W. Schaefer. In 1944, he contacted his army commanders with a proposal to develop and produce a radio controlled anti-aircraft missiles. One year later, Bell Laboratories and their production division, Western Electric, began working on this project Ц and this led to the creation of several generations of Nike missiles.

The development of the Nike Zeus, the first antiballistic missile, began in 1955, i.e. approximately two years before the release of the earth's first satellite. This system was deployed from 1965 onwards. Naturally, the generational predecessor of this missile, the Nike Hercules (which was admittedly still an anti-aircraft missile, but was also equipped with a nuclear warhead) was deployed abroad in Asia and Europe.

The plans for the advance of the radars abroad, which were supposed to constitute part of the USA air defence, date from 1946 Ц this involved a belt of radars along the 50th parallel from the Pacific to the Atlantic, the so-called Pinetree Line. The project quickly became outdated and it was replaced by the DEW Line. This stretches from Alaska, through Canada, the Faroe Islands Greenland and on to Iceland. When the project was activated in 1957, it contained 63 radar stations.

The Safeguard Program became the hit of the limited protection against intercontinental ballistic missiles at the end of the 1960s. The rapid development of the antiballistic systems was inhibited by the Treaty between the USA and the USSR on the limitation of anti-ballistic missile systems (ABM Treaty) concluded in 1972. A period of the disassembling of excess antiballistic stations ensued due to the condition that both participating states would only have two anti-missile stations (one around the capital city and the second around one of the intercontinental ballistic missile bases). The amendment to the ABM Treaty from 1974 reduced the number of these stations to one and the United States kept the defence of its missile base (the Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota).

The Strategic Defence Initiative (SDI) became a new impulse for the development of the antiballistic system known as "star wars". Ronald Reagan officially announced this programme in March 1983 and it was supposed to secure the protection of the United States against Soviet intercontinental ballistic missiles.

There were several new ideas in SDI, which still resound in today's discussions. Firstly, this project presupposed the transfer of the most important components of the anti-missile protection into space, which meant that the defence project acquired the features of a global system. A new idea also involved the planned use of lasers on satellites to destroy enemy missiles. It was expected that new missile interceptors starting from land bases would be deployed. A further planned new feature was to be the land and space-based monitoring and guidance systems. The project was not realised and President Bill Clinton withdrew from the global antiballistic defence programme, but the development and testing of some of the components continued. The NMD programme under discussion today is a direct descendant of SDI. Its current form has grown from National Security Directive 23 issued by President George W. Bush in December 2002. It is associated with the withdrawal from the ABM Treaty by the USA. In its original form, the NMD was supposed to be a small variant of the SDI, because the official goal is protection against limited missile capabilities, i.e. of rogue states. The first generation of NMD contains monitoring systems in space and land and sea radar plus missile bases. The NMD is officially oriented towards the destruction of enemy missiles using kinetic energy.

Both global anti-missile defence projects (SDI and NMD) are characterised by the fact it is relatively easy to describe the original model which was to be realised, but not the final form of the system: in both cases, the new projects began to grow from previous projects. If no fundamental political decisions are taken, the current phase of the global deployment of the American NMD system will be only the beginning of the constantly proliferating research, development and deployment of new anti-missile systems.

 

* * *

The first technical criticism arose as early as during the period of the introduction of the Nike Zeus missiles Ц Robert McNamara, the Minister of Defence in the Kennedy administration, pointed out that the antiballistic missiles were not capable of differentiating between missiles carrying a nuclear warhead and dummy missiles. Two levels of criticism of the anti-missile defence have gradually taken shape in the USA: one line of criticism points to the impossibility of the anti-missile defence, while the second criticises its technical obsoleteness.

The summary of the arguments on the ineffectiveness of SDI which was compiled by the authors of the article The President’s Choice: Star Wars or Arms Control published in winter 1984/1985 by the prominent American magazine, Foreign Affairs, continues to be inspirational. The best-known American criticism of the current NMD project came in July 2003 from the American Physical Society. It pointed out that in order to destroy the missiles in the first phase of flight from Iran or the DPRK, it would be necessary to have at least 1600 cosmic interceptors at a price of 57 to 224 billion for a single solid fuel missile; in the case of one liquid fuel missile, this would require 700 interceptors at a price of 27 to 78 billion dollars.

Some critics note that the NMD is a defence against a non-existing threat, which does not perceive the threats realistically. An example may be the warning that it is easier for the owner of one or several nuclear warheads Ц whether this involves terrorists or a "rogue state" Ц to transport them to a harbour in the United States by ship, rather than by using an intercontinental missile. In the context of the protection against terrorist attack, some authors state that, if the defence was perfect, no drugs would be smuggled into the USA. The NMD programme in its current form does not secure protection against medium and short range missiles fired from ships.

The critics of the current NMD programme in Report of an Independent Working Group on Missile Defence, the Space Relationship and the 21st Century have pointed to other aspects. According to then, the basis of a functioning anti-missile defence system should be the one thousand killer satellites which were developed within the framework of the Brilliant Pebbles programme at the turn of the 1980s and 1990s. These satellites weighing 1.4 and 2.6 kg and with the size of "a traditional South Carolina watermelon" should have their own defensive system and the ability to destroy enemy intercontinental missiles in all three flight phases. The satellites should be launched by 2010.

The construction of a land-based anti-missile defence system means stagnating with outdated ideas. As the authors of the cited report state, "only space-based defenses inherently have this global capability and permanence". At prices dating from 2005, the Brilliant Pebbles programme would cost 16.4 billion dollars (10-11 and 113). In a critique of this report for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Theresa Hitchens points out that the system was originally supposed to have 100 thousand and later seven thousand satellites (page 77).

The existing parts of the anti-missile defence system in the seas and oceans, i.e. Aegis and Standard Missiles, should be improved. As well as the tasks associated with the defence against intercontinental ballistic missiles, this sub-system should secure defence against medium and short range missiles fired from ships. However, according to this report, the anti-missile systems on ships, like the land bases, should only have a regional or local significance. The US land bases "should not be expanded beyond current deployment sites in Alaska and California" (114). That is to say, no radar in the Czech Republic.

(To be continued. Part 2)

Information about the author:

Professor Dr. Oskar Krejčí, CSc. (b. 1948)

is Deputy Rector of the University College of International and Public Relations in Prague (The Czech Republic); research worker at the Institute of Political Sciences of the Slovak Academy of Sciences, Bratislava (Slovakia); and teacher at the Faculty of Political Sciences and International Relations of the Matej Bel University, Banská Bystrica (Slovakia). He has published seventeen scientific books and approximately 1,000 studies and articles of various sorts. He was an advisor of two Prime Ministers of the Czechoslovak Federal Government.

© First published by Res Publica, association for information, in November 2007, for study purposes of its members and other people interested, in cooperation with the University College of International and Public Relations Prague.


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