Thursday, September 25, 2008

one more catch-up


here comes the last part of my latest attempt to catch up with the events of the recent days. After this post I can leave the fast-forward mode and switch back to normal blogging speed with more substance in the entries. But first, the last catch-up:

Japan is planning a ballistic missile defense test in cooperation with the United States in mid-November, a Defense Ministry spokesperson said. He continued that the Japanese navy personnel aboard the newly upgraded destroyer Chokai will use an SM-3 missile to try to shoot down a dummy ballistic missile in space over the Pacific near Hawaii. A few days ago Japan succeeded in using a PAC-3 land-based anti-ballistic missile interceptor to intercept a dummy missile at White Sands, New Mexico.

Meanwhile the United States is looking to bolster its own PAC-3 capabilities. Early next year, the Missile Defense Agency plans to begin testing its new longer-range interceptor for the PAC-3. The Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) is designed to double the range of today's PAC-3 interceptor. The new type is also supposed to engage targets at a higher altitude than it is possible today, projecting potential fallout from an intercept farther from forces on the ground or population centers. The MSE-producing company Lockheed Martin is currently also designing MSE variants for an air-launch boost-phase interceptor and a sea-based hit-to-kill terminal defense system.

USA Today has more on missile defense:

Congressional negotiators agreed Wednesday to allow some funding for construction next year on a site for missile defense interceptors in Poland but sharply reduced the Bush administration's request. […] The bill would cut the administration's 2009 funding request for the European project by almost $246 million out of $712 million. It would also cut the request for construction of the Polish site by $90 million out a total of about $133 million.
NTI reported earlier this week that the U.S. plans to tap deactivated Minuteman III missiles for tests:
The United States plans to use 50 decommissioned Minuteman III ICBMs in periodic tests aimed at lengthening the life of the remaining 450 nuclear-tipped weapons. […] The missiles would be modified and used in reliability tests that could extend the life of the operational missiles by 12 years, from 2018 to 2030.
The IAEA has shown documents and photographs suggesting that Iran secretly tried to modify a missile cone to carry a nuclear bomb, diplomats said. These are a new proof indicating that Iran tried to refit the long-distance Shahab-3 missile to carry a nuclear payload.

India’s progress in missile development is also worth dropping some lines: The Indian government has cleared the indigenous Agni-III ballistic missile for induction into the defense forces, Defense Ministry sources said. They continued that the production of the missile would begin at state-owned Bharat Dynamics. This deviates from DRDO statements made after the last test in May according to which said that two more tests would be required to prove the missile’s robustness.

It is reported further that Indian scientists are now developing an intercontinental ballistic missile with a range of more than 5,000 kilometers that is expected to be tested early next year. A couple of days ago India reported its progress in extending the range of its missiles by 40% which would boost the Agni-III to a range of roughly 5,000km. However, it can be expected that the Agni-V ICBM will be tested. This would confirm earlier announcements and also this article in The Hindu.

Turkey fostered its military ties with Russia. The country decided to buy 80 Kornet E (NATO designation: AT-14) laser-guided anti-tank missile systems in a $70 million deal that is Moscow's first arms sale to the NATO member in 11 years, according to a senior Russian defense industry source.

Monday, September 22, 2008

more leftovers

Here comes the second part of the catch-up of the events of the short blogging hiatus.
On the beginning of the month, Iran denied it had bought Russia's advanced S-300 anti-aircraft missile system. Israeli experts warned that Iran could receive such a system by the end of 2008 while U.S. officials do not expect it to happen that early. However, another news piece that came up on the very same day clearly indicates that these two countries perceive Iran as a major threat: Jane’s announced that the U.S. will provide Israel with aid to face a range of emerging threats, especially long-range guided missiles from Iran or Syria. U.S. aid to the Arrow 3 program is currently planned to include US$750 million until the system 2013, when the system is expected to become operational.

There are also some news regarding the cooperation with another partner – or one might say it is pay-day. The first cash to fund Czech research stemming from Prague's agreement to host part of a US anti-missile shield should be sent by month's end, a Czech scientist told the CTK news agency in early September. US experts are at the moment sifting through a shortlist of eight projects from publicly funded research institutions and private firms in such fields as robotics, laser technology, medicine, radio-location technology, nano science and special crystals, the news agency said.

The Russian attitude towards the Polish interceptor base is well known. Moscow already floated ideas to base Iskander missiles in Belarus and Kaliningrad and target them in direction of Poland. Now this threat reached a higher level. Russia is contemplating to aim its ICBMs at the U.S. missile defense shield in Europe. The missile defense facilities in Poland and the Czech Republic and other similar facilities in the future could "be designated as targets for our ICBMs," said the commander of Russia's Strategic Missile Forces Col. Gen. Nikolai Solovtsov.

Should the Czech parliament reject the two agreements in the final reading in December, there might be another option for the United States to pursue: Romania wants to host a missile defense system to defend the European Union against missile attack, Romanian Defense Minister Teodor Melescanu stated. However, Romania’s offer was put strictly into a NATO-context. “In our opinion,” Melescanu said, “it would be better for the EU countries to have their own defense system”.

The Times of India reported that Bangladesh is all set to build its own missile arsenal. The caretaker government in Dhaka is in the process of clinching a deal with an integrated European company MBDA for buying OTOMAT MK-II surface-to-air missiles and five launch systems. These missiles can carry a payload of 210 kg and can hit targets 180 km away. Bangladesh conducted its maiden missile test on conducted on May 12 when it successfully test-fired land attack anti-ship cruise missile C-802A, which is a modified version of Chinese Ying Ji-802.

Indian scientists have developed path-breaking technology that has the potential to increase the range of missiles by at least 40%. This would boost the Agni-III missile to a range of 4,900km. The enhanced range is made possible by adding a special-purpose coating of chromium metal to the blunt nose cone of missiles and launch vehicles.

Friday, September 19, 2008

back online

Dear reader, I am back online and once more I will try to catch up the recent events. However, it will only be some patchwork rather than adequate coverage. I will go into greater and appropriate detail in the subsequent postings of the new events.

Here comes the first part of the catch-up:

Let’s start off with the major news: yesterday Russia successfully tested its Bulava SLBM. The missile was fired by the Dmitry Donskoy nuclear submarine off the northwest coast of Russia. The Bulava missile, which has a range of 8,000 kilometers, was first tested successfully in December 2005. The subsequent tests were unsuccessful or only partially successful.

DPRK has constructed a 10-story missile tower and launch pad, located in Pongdong-ni, a Southwestern region of North Korea. This facility may make future missile tests more realistic by providing Kim Jong-il(l)’s country with the ability to actually test the missile engine while it's in the airframe. Joseph S. Bermudez, Jr., an expert with Jane’s, believes North Korea wants to use the site to develop longer-range and more accurate ICBMs. North Korea tested the engine on a Taepodong-2 long-range missile at its new missile launch test site several months ago, a U.S. official said Tuesday while another official declined this.

The future of the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile, or JASSM, seemed in doubt last year due to various problems but now the missile program called back on track. A batch of the stealthy cruise missiles was delivered in July and a contract for an additional 111 awarded in June, the development team flew 16 flight tests in four days in February, and 14 of them were successful.

The U.S. military aborted an attempt Wednesday, September 17, to shoot down an incoming missile with two interceptors after the target malfunctioned shortly after launch off the Hawaiian island of Kauai. It was the first breakdown after five successful tests of the THAAD.

Another test on that day was more successful: as part of its endeavors to build a two-layer missile shield, Japan's Air Self-Defense Force successfully test-fired a PAC-3 missile and shot down a mock ballistic missile at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico in the United States. The second layer, the SM-3 interceptor system, was successfully tested in December involving a high-tech Aegis destroyer near Hawaii.

Let’s shift to our favorite missile defense system: the Czech Republic and the United States are set to sign an agreement on deploying US soldiers at the anti-missile radar today in London, an official from the Czech ministry of defense told AFP. This agreement completes an initial deal Prague and Washington signed in July to base a powerful radar system in the Czech Republic to support a battery of 10 interceptor missiles in neighboring Poland. The Czech parliament will give the two treaties a first reading in October, with a final reading expected to take place in December.

Stay tuned for the second part of the catch-up. Over and out!

Friday, September 5, 2008


I just want to let you know that I am taking a short blog-out. You can expect the next entry in roughly two weeks. Enjoy the last days of summer!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Russia tests a Topol missile

Last Thursday, August 28, 2008 the Strategic Rocket Forces conducted a successful launch of a Topol (SS-25) missile. You can find details – as usual – at Pavel’s Russian Forces Blog. It comes to no surprise that the missile was touted to be equipped with a “new warhead to penetrate strong missile defenses”.

Russian President Prime Minister Vladimir Putin plainly said that the test was “a direct response to harsh, unreasonable actions by NATO countries”. Another indicator for this is that it came as the European Union warned that it would consider trade and travel restrictions against Russia when its 27 leaders meet on Monday.