Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Missile Defense and more

Even though it is hard to believe but there are still other news besides those on the financial crisis. For example this one: the Obama-camp has expressed support for the European missile defense bases, despite Moscow’s protests that the deployments would threaten Russia. One of Obama’s senior advisers said on October 2 that “Serious conversation needs to be had with the Russians about what we’re trying to do, because it is not anti-Russian.” The other side in the presidential race has a different understanding of the purpose of the missile defense system and bluntly speaks of a new justification:

Republican presidential nominee Senator John McCain (Ariz.) has strongly supported missile defenses to protect the United States and its allies, in addition to discussing a possibly rising threat from Moscow.
So McCain takes this position in spite of all the vehement declarations that the European GMD bases are NOT directed against Russia. The times, they are a-changin' – and so does the rhetoric.

The support for the European bases has also increased elsewhere. According to a new poll the support by the Czechs ticked up by 10 percent to an amount of 38 percent. The majority of the population, 55 percent, is still opposed. Meanwhile a speaker of the parliament in Prague said that the discussions on the ratification of the Czech-U.S. agreement may begin in November.

The shift from objection to support is even greater in Poland: support for the interceptor base rose to 41 percent in early September, compared to 27 percent in early August, before the much-disputed deal was reached. Opposition to the plan dropped to 46 percent from 56 percent, over that same time.

While the U.S. administration certainly loved to read about these new polls, there are other things that are not to their taste: a GAO report says that the United States has increasingly failed in attempts to launch mock enemy missiles for its test interceptors to destroy. The failure rate has more than double over the course of the last three year up to now 16 percent. This comes at a time at which the unit costs of the mock warheads increased eightfold up to almost US$ 50m.

The United States also spent some money on another type of missile: Washington is weary to leave the super- and hyper-sonic cruise missiles to India and Russia alone. Therefore Boeing has been awarded an $18.3 million follow-on contract from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to conduct a third powered flight of the HyFly hypersonic missile. The first two tests were conducted in September 2007 and January 2008, respectively. In January the HyFly boosted to Mach 3.5.

With all these expenses, Washington needs to generate some income. Therefore it is money-wise quite helpful that the United States plans to sell PAC-3 missile defense systems to Taiwan as part of a $6.5 billion armaments deal.

No comments: