Saturday, December 26, 2009

one step closer to the expensive Iron Dome

Israel successfully completed another series of tests of the Iron Dome, the first level of its multi-layered missile defense umbrella which is designed to intercept missiles and rockets at ranges between 4 and 77 kilometers. Two other tests took place earlier this year back in July and in March.

Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that the assessment within the Defense Ministry and military had been that the interceptor would explode 10 meters from the incoming missile. The Iron Dome is not solely a hit-to-kill system, but it can also engage short-range missiles and rockets using shrapnel, enabling it to stop or divert an incoming missile from a distance of three meters. However, there was no need to use these additional measures during the recent test-launch because it exceeded the expectations by far. The two missiles “met head on".

This system is to enter service in 2011, but could be rushed into service sooner. Other sources refer to Israeli Defense Forces sources and Rafael officials according to whom the Iron Dome is expected to be ready in about half a year.

Israel received the reward for this successful test in a jiffy: on December 21, US President Barack Obama has signed a defense spending bill that includes $202 million in funds for Israel's missile defense programs. Over at Asian Defence you can read:

The Arrow-3, a controversial program that initially faced push-back from US Pentagon officials, will now get $50m as opposed to the $37m originally requested by the administration. In addition, the short-range ballistic missile defense program will get $80m., with the balance for the existing long-range program. The total is some $25m more than was approved last year.
A total of US$ 225 million have been invested by Tel Aviv in the project so far. This amount of money is expected to be sufficient for a prototype, the construction of two batteries and the production of a limited number of interception missiles. A single battery is considered sufficient to protect the area of a medium-size city and its environs.

Israel will gladly accept the additional money. Defense officials admit that the cost of intercepting missiles with the system may be as much as $50,000 each.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Dhanush tested

India successfully tested on December 13 a nuclear-capable Dhanush SLBM, a naval variant of Prithvi with 350 km range. The missile flew over 350 km and splashed down at the target point in the Bay with “pinpoint accuracy,” according to official sources in the Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO). The bragging continues:

The radar systems of the Integrated Test Range (ITR), located along the coast, monitored the entire trajectory of the vehicle, which flew for 520 seconds before zeroing in on the target with a circular error probability (CEP) of below 10 meters.
The Dhanush’s first test launch ended in failure in April 2000 over technical problems related to the take-off stage, but subsequent trials were reported as successful. The latest Dhanush trial was successfully conducted off Orissa coast in March 2007.

It seems that DRDO feels emboldened by this success which seems to make it forget the poor performance of the Agni-II in the two previous flights, in May and November 2009. The sources indicated there would be two more Agni-II flight tests to overcome these failures.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Topol, Bulava and arts

Last week Russia conducted two missile tests and the results are mixed. On December 10, a Topol missile was launched without any problems from the Kapustin Yar site and hit the designated target in Sary-Shagan, Kazakhstan. Everything ran smoothly as we have seen it many times before. Things looked totally different the day before: On December 9, Russia test-launched a Bulava SLBM. The Russian Ministry of Defense confirmed that the test was a failure - like the one before, like the one before, like … - and said in a statement:

"It has been determined in analyzing the launch that the missile's first two stages performed as planned, but there was a technical malfunction at the next, the third, phase of the trajectory," the ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

Last week’s test has only been one of many failures. Here is a brief chronology of the Bulava test-launches which counts – according to RIA Novosti – seven failures out of the 13 tests:

  1. 24.06.2004 - failure: solid-propelled engine exploded during the test
  2. 23.09.2004 - success: a test of automated systems on board of Dmitry Donskoi nuclear involved the ejection of a full mockup of the Bulava missile from submerged position to a height of about 40 meters
  3. 27.09.2005 - success: the missile flew for 14 minutes and covered a distance of 5,500 km. Warheads hit all designated targets at the testing grounds
  4. 21.12.2005 - success: all targets at the Kura testing grounds after a launch from a submerged submarine
  5. 07.09.2006 - failure: a glitch in the program caused the missile to deviate from the trajectory and fall into the sea before reaching the target
  6. 25.10.2006 - failure: the missile deviated from the trajectory, self-destructed, and fell into the White Sea
  7. 24.12.2006 - failure: malfunction of the third-stage engine 3-4 minutes into the flight caused the missile to self-destruct
  8. 29.06.2007 - success: warheads hit targets at the Kura testing grounds after a launch from a submerged submarine
  9. 18.09.2008 – success: Subsurface launch at 18:45, warheads hit target at 19:05
  10. 28.11.2008 - success: a successful launch during the state-run technical tests
  11. 23.12.2008 - failure: the missile self-destructed
  12. 15.07.2009 - failure: the missile self-destructed during the separation of the first stage
  13. 09.12.2009 - failure: a technical failure in the third stage engines rendered them unstable

But some analysts suggest that in reality the number of failures has been considerably greater: According to Russian military expert Pavel Felgenhauer, of the Bulava's 11 test launches, only one was entirely successful.

Against the background of these dire results RIA Novosti demands that “we must now assess the entire project's status and the implications of the latest abortive test on the future development of Russia's strategic nuclear forces.” Well, it seems that perceptions of the state of the Russian missile arsenal vary. Andrei Shvaichenko, commander of Russia's Strategic Missile Forces (SMF) said on December 8 that Russia will complete the development of advanced missile systems by 2016:

"The future missile group will consist of two components -- standby stationary missile systems with a high level of combat readiness and long-endurance missile systems. […] By the end of 2016, the missile systems with extended service life will account for no more than 20 percent of the total, while the share of new missile systems will be about 80 percent."
If one considers the performance of the Bulava one can call these plans very … na├»ve ambitious. Of course one realistic option would be to continue with the slow introduction of the new missiles and a rapid decline of old missiles. But I assume that this was not what commander Shvaichenko was bragging about. ..

On a final note: if Russia should drop out of the missile building business it might still go into arts. The failed missile test of Russia illuminated the Norwegian sky on Wednesday morning: The spiral even caused speculations about a UFO causing bluish-white sky to pop up. The NewScientist reported that it looked like a time-travelling vortex fit for Doctor Who.

For a better hypnotic effect take a look at this video.

Back online :-)

Finally I find the time to update this blog. Thank you for bearing with me during the unduly long blog-out.

In order to establish the Missile Monitor further in the Web 2.0 realm I started today the Missile Monitor Tweet. I will (re)tweet missile-related news that floods my inbox. In the past I all too often had no time to come up with a post and only deleted the news. This Twitter thing might now help me to utilize the information.

And now: let the blogging begin!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Iranian Missiles and U.S. Missile Defense

The Washington Institute invited Uzi Rubin and Michael Elleman to address a special Policy Forum luncheon on November 2, 2009, discussing the question of how do U.S. missile defense capabilities match up to Iran's growing missile arsenal. The meeting was recorded and you can listen to it here. Make sure to also download the pdf-ed slides to which Uzi Rubin refers during his presentation.

In the presentation reference is made to the launch of the Iranian sputnik, the 25 kg satellite Omid 1 launched in February. One of the presenters also mentions that Iran is set to launch second satellite soon, which is expected to be significantly heavier than the first one. DEBKAfile posted some information on this yesterday.

Unfortunatly the Missile Monitor will remain quasi dormant for the next weeks. Work is killing me and leaves me no time for blogging. Sorry about that.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

European missile defense bases - yet another post

More than a month has passed since President Obama announced to bury the former plans for the two controversial missile defense bases in Poland and the Czech Republic. This gave ample opportunity to digest this major change. Here is a brief summary of the reactions and latest developments:

Paul Taylor at the Reuters blog wrote that the decision to drop plans to install it on Polish and Czech territory constitutes a test for NATO’s unity because

President Barack Obama’s decision […] leaves those former Soviet satellites feeling betrayed — because they expended political capital to win parliamentary support — and more exposed to a resurgent Russia, especially after its use of force against Georgia last year.
Megan Stack from the LA Times puts it more poignantly:

Washington's decision to back out of the missile shield agreement forged by the Bush administration –and opposed by Russia – has evoked memories among Poles of Cold War helplessness, of being brushed aside as casualties of great power politics.
When Barack Obama entered office it was often mentioned in the European press that even though the substance of his foreign policy might not change dramatically, the way he would address his (European) partners would alter in comparison to Dubya. The Nobel Peace Prize Committee obviously shared this view and awarded Obama the prize "for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples". Well, it seems that sometimes the Obama administration is not necessarily more successful than the Bush gang: Polish officials seemed to be the last to hear about the change in plans.

"We heard first from the media," said Witold Waszczykowski, deputy head of Poland's national security bureau. Speculation that the missile shield plan would be dropped had been in the air since the U.S. presidential campaign. And yet, Waszczykowski said, Polish leaders were repeatedly reassured - even days before a team of U.S. officials arrived to brief officials - that no decision had been reached.
Aiming to sooth this frustration and concerns, Poland and the Czech Republic are being offered roles in the Obama administration's new plan to defend Europe against Iran's development and deployment of short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, senior administration officials told Congress on October 1.

The U.S. Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, Ellen O. Tauscher, informed the House Armed Services Committee that

"We have offered the Poles a future piece of the SM-3 [Standard missile-3] deployment" and "we're working on a number of different things" for the Czechs.
Russia remains suspicious about Washington's new antimissile plans and fears its strategic nuclear weapons could still be threatened by the reconfigured scheme. However, at the same time Moscow sees a redrafted U.S. anti-missile shield plan as less of a security threat than the previously proposed project. Russia’s ambassador to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, stressed that there are chances for cooperation. He said that Moscow believes it would be possible to establish a missile-defense system jointly with the military alliance.

"If we are convinced that the European missile-defense initiative is not part of a U.S. theater missile-defense system, such efforts are possible."
Cooperation is also under discussion in Washington. The United States has not dismissed an offer to use two Russian radars in southern Russia and Azerbaijan for missile defense, a senior Defense Department official said in a recent interview with Interfax. The NTI Newswire reported that:

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates "and other senior defense officials have already pointed to the possibility of some form of link between Russian radars ... to provide additional data and early warning information that could benefit both of us in defending against ballistic missile threats," said Assistant Defense Secretary Alexander Vershbow.
Vershbow bang the drum also with other remarks that raised concern on the Russian side. He told reporters on Thursday that countries in the region, such as Ukraine, "may also have radars that could contribute to early-warning information." This statement prompted Moscow to call for clarification. Subsequently Washington denied in an official statement that it planned to station U.S. radar systems in Ukraine.

Leaving aside all this animosities, concerns, and the potential for cooperation, some observers question whether the weapons that would be central to the Obama administration's new missile defense plan for Europe can be trusted to function during a conflict. There has been no realistic testing of the Standard Missile 3, which could still be fooled by balloons or other decoys likely to be deployed by an enemy missile, argued David Wright, a senior scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists. In addition critics come up with a very creative form of accounting to show that the new plans will not lead to cost-savings. The Congressional Budget Office early this year estimated the cost of the Bush plan at between $9 billion and $13 billion over two decades. However these savings are allegedly eliminated by the construction and extended operational costs of the ship-based alternative which would cost $18 billion to $26 billion. However, there is one teeny tiny thing that the critics might have forgotten to take into consideration: some of that cost comes from pre-existing plans to equip no fewer than 67 Navy vessels with Aegis ballistic missile defense technology. Besides that, the vessels are far more flexible and neither static nor do they serve a single purpose as the European components of the original plan would have.

There is another reason why the new plan leaves a lighter footprint: Lt. Gen. Patrick O'Reilly, director of the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency, added that preparation of a Polish missile defense site, which was to have taken five years to complete, could now be finished in less than a year and be staffed with fewer than 100 U.S. personnel, instead of the 400 who would have been needed under the Bush-era plan.

© picture: Korea Times

Monday, September 21, 2009

Missle Defense Aftermath

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Saturday lashed out at critics of a new missile defense plan for Europe and insisted it was not a concession to Russia, as some charge. This is something that Senator John McCain, ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, accused the plan to be. Since when is making concessions a crime? Well, we already know for some time how McCain prefers to solve conflicts. Maybe he should take a conflict resolution class to learn that making concessions is neither a taboo nor a capital sin. Anyhow, I digress, let’s get back to business:

Concession or not, shortly after President Obama announced his decision to scrap plans to base the missile defense components in Poland and the Czech Republic, it was reported that Russia will abandon plans to deploy Iskander SRBMs in Kaliningrad. Luckily some people in Russia are not as narrow-minded as certain U.S. senators.

Two days before President Obama made his announcement rumors came up that Russia and the United States might cooperate on the Gabala Radar Station. While this idea has been under discussion for already some time and was only recycled, the rumor mill has also something new to offer. NTI’s Global Security Newswire reported on September 14:

Recent news reports have indicated that the Obama administration is considering Israel as one alternative location if it chooses not to pursue the planned deployment of missile interceptors in Poland and a radar base in the Czech Republic. Some U.S. systems might remain in Israel after the two nations conduct a joint missile defense exercise scheduled for October, the Jerusalem Post reported last week.
A senior U.S. State Department official hinted that reports of plans to deploy missile defenses in Israel might be incorrect. They might be incorrect? A strong refusal sounds differently.

Even though the original missile defense plans for Europe were scrapped, this does not mean Washington will limit itself to the Vandenberg Air Force Base and Fort Greely. Under Obama's new plan, the United States would initially deploy ships with missile interceptors and in a second phase would field land-based defense systems. To “tip the balance back just slightly towards the wonky”, make sure to read Joshua Pollacks post “Testing European Missile Defense” over at the Arms Control Wonk.

Picture © Reuters

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Game Over Press Start to Continue – Obama Scraps European Missile Defense Plans

I can end the time of silence with a bang. You probably have already heard the big new: US President Barack Obama has shelved plans for controversial bases in Poland and the Czech Republic in a major overhaul of missile defense in Europe.

Make sure to read NTI’s great article on the issue. For those of you who are more visually oriented, you can also watch president Obama’s announcement here.

Barack Obama received much kudos for his decision politicians and from press. Here are some examples from Germany: Chancellor Angela Merkel said that Obama’s decision is a promising signal to solve the problems with Russia. Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier lauded the step and stressed that there is a new chance to discuss the issue of missile defense in Europe once again with all partners. The daily Sueddeutsche described the decision to shelve the plans as an act of courage, willingness to take risks and decisiveness. The German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung lauded the style how the U.S. approached his allies.

Take this as a brief appetizer. I will write more on this issue tomorrow.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Colored sharks

Here is another ROK follow-up: over at UPI they have a brief article on South Korea’s Red Shark and its kin: South Korea to produce Red Shark torpedoes.

Missile defense farrago

A report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office, released on August 6, comes to the conclusion that the cost of building and operating the controversial U.S. anti-ballistic missile sites in Europe could substantially exceed the original estimate:

After reviewing several proposed missile-defense sites in Eastern Europe, the Army Corps of Engineers has determined that initial construction estimates for sites in the Czech Republic and Poland for $837 million are unrealistic, and that "almost $1.2 billion" is a more accurate figure.
The GAO report does not only come up with its own assessment but also contains also some homework for the Pentagonians: it urges them to develop "accurate, realistic, and complete cost estimates for military construction and operations and support for ballistic missile defenses in Europe”. For more details see the post over at the Nukes of Hazard blog. If you want to put the spending into a historical context you might want to take a look at this chart.

Recently the Obama administration has proposed to emphasize battlefield missile defenses over systems for intercepting strategic ballistic missiles. This would save money while potentially making it more vulnerable to future attack, says a report published yesterday by a Washington-based defense think tank. For more details see NTI’s GSN.

Costs are not the only issue that raises concerns. A group of U.S. and Russian scientists from the East West Institute say that the proposed missile defense shield deployed in Central Europe would be ineffective.

These are some of the reasons why the Obama administration is currently reviewing the plans to field 10 ground-based interceptors in Poland and a radar station in the Czech Republic. The major U.S. defense contractors use this time to offer new toys out of their toolbox.

Raytheon proposed to develop a land-based variant of the SM-3 interceptor originally designed for use on warships by 2013. This interceptor would target short- and medium-range missiles from land. Raytheon also already a scenario for the deployment of the new interceptor:
The U.S. Defense Department is considering the proposed system for inclusion in a European missile shield, according to Raytheon leaders. Russia has long opposed a proposal to field in Poland ground-based interceptors that could target its ICBMs, making SM-3 interceptors a potentially more acceptable alternative for countering an Iranian long-range missile threat.
This seems to be only Raytheon’s viewpoint. U.S. Strategic Command head Gen. Kevin Chilton did not specify whether the Pentagon was considering an SM-3 system as a replacement for the proposed ground-based interceptors.

Raytheon’s rival Boeing has something else to offer: The United States could temporarily place a mobile ground-based missile interceptor in Europe as protection from a potential long-range missile threat, U.S. defense contractor Boeing Co. recommended.
By 2015, Boeing could prepare a two-stage, 47,500-pound interceptor that could be transported by C-17 cargo aircraft and deployed at a NATO site on a trailer-based launch platform, [Boeing vice president and general manager for missile defense]Hyslop said. The interceptor could be fielded within 24 hours and then removed when the missile threat abates, he said.
While these alternative ideas do the rounds and the future of the missile base is still uncertain – the U.S.-Polish agreement has not been ratified by the Polish parliament nor agreed by President Obama - Poland is convinced that another deal will put into effect. Polish Defense Minister Bogdan Klich said yesterday that the first battery of U.S. Patriot missile will be deployed in Poland either this year or next.
“We are negotiating with the Americans and we are getting closer to a conclusion. I hope we will make the final decision in the autumn. There are still some controversial points, but the number of those is decreasing,” Bogdan Klich told Polish Radio.
The agreement to supply Poland with Patriots as was signed in 2008 but in official statements the idea that the delivery was a form of payment for hosting the interceptor base was rejected.
All these issues are no reason for the Missile Defense Agency not to come up with new plans. MDA Director Patrick O’Reilly predicts that the United States will significantly improve its ability to track incoming ballistic missiles from space by 2016:
Currently, U.S. sensors […] are providing data as soon as a ballistic missile boosts after launch. However, a gap exists after boost, forcing MDA officials to look to reacquire a target later in its flight when the U.S. has other capability for tracking.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

more on ROK'S launch

Just a brief follow-up: South Korea suspended Wednesday the launch of its first space rocket with just less than eight minutes remaining in the countdown due to a technical glitch. A new launch date will be announced after consultations with experts from Russia, who made the first stage of the Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1 (KSLV-1), also called the Naro-1.

For some background information on Seoul’s space program and bragging see the Yonhap article on the “culmination of 20 years of research and development that started with small, rudimentary solid-fuel machines”.

The Washington Post also has two articles related to my latest entry. The first addresses the question of double standards:

South Korea on Wednesday plans to launch a satellite into space using technology capable, in theory, of eventually delivering nuclear warheads or other weapons of mass destruction.

A successful launch from an island off South Korea's southwestern coast will add that country to an elite club of nine nations that have demonstrated the capability to orbit a satellite and -- if they choose -- to conduct long-range missile strikes against an enemy. But it will probably not attract the same kind of international criticism heaped on North Korea when it recently attempted a similar launch.

ROK’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Moon Tae-young already stated that any comparison between the two missile launches is ‘inappropriate.’ An unnamed U.S.-official put it bluntly: The question is, ‘are they allies or friends, or people who have generally been belligerent?’ A great U.S. philosopher former U.S. president phrased it slightly different: ‘Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.’ Henry Sokolski already aptly raised the question: ‘If we wink at this nuclear-capable rocket launch . . . how in the world can we object to North Korean and Iranian tests without looking like hypocrites?’

Japan seems to have fewer concerns. While having pressed the U.N. Security Council to censure North Korea, it expressed its hope that the South Korean test will be successful.

South Korea is said to have spend an estimated US$200 million to obtain technological assistance of Russia after the U.S. government spurned South Korea's appeals for assistance. Russia is supplying the first stage of the rocket about to be launched.

The second WP article describes DPRK’s softer tone of the recent days. The core statement is:
The reasons behind North Korea's apparent softening in strategy are known only to Kim and his inner circle. But analysts in South Korea have speculated that much of North Korea's saber rattling this year was for internal consumption, as Kim began to prepare the country for a succession process that may hand power to his third son, Kim Jong Un, who is just 26.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Sharks instead of sunshine

We have another indicator that Kim Dae Jung’s sunshine policy has sent out one of its last rays. A last week’s report by the Korean Times strongly underlines that Seoul is no longer trying to hug its northern neighbor until it smiles:

South Korea began deploying 1,000-kilometer-range surface-to-surface cruise missiles in the field earlier this year, according to missile developers and military sources Monday. The missile, a modified variant of the Hyunmoo missile, is capable of reaching as far as Beijing and Tokyo, as well as hitting key targets in the entire North Korean territory, they said.It is the first time that the development and deployment of the long-range cruise missile, dubbed Hyunmoo-III, have been confirmed.
The Hyunmoo-III brings into reach DPRK’s long-range missile sites, including the Musudan-ri site in North Hamgyeong Province. The cruise missile is reported to have a CEP of 5 meters. The state-funded Agency for Defense Development is currently developing a newer version of the missile family: the Hyunmoo-IIIA, with an extended range of up to 1,500km. The new cruise missile is based on the Hyunmoo-I and II which are ballistic missiles with a range of 180 to 300km.

It comes to no surprise that the argument that Seoul brings forward for the deployment of the Hyunmoo-III is the threat posed by North Korea's increasing asymmetrical capability of missile and nuclear weapons. According to the Koran Times article, DPRK has deployed more than 600 Scud missiles with a range of 320-500 kilometers and 200 Rodong missiles with a range of 1,300 kilometers near the Demilitarized Zone dividing the two Koreas.

Missile gap … we have heard this before. Let’s see how long it will take DPRK to justify its own missile program with the same argument. Pyongyang already said that it will closely watch the international reaction on South Korea's planned launch of a carrier rocket with a satellite on board following criticism of a similar launch conducted by Pyongyang. Kim Jong Il has a point because the launch has also a military purpose:

The launch of the Naro-ho will offer a great opportunity for the Sejong destroyer to test and evaluate its [Aegis missile-defense system] performances, since a space vehicle, in general, has almost the same design, components, and technology as those of an ICBM.
The Hyunmoo is not the only field where Seoul is increased its activities: South Korea's defense ministry said on August 13 that newly developed ‘Red Shark’ anti-submarine guided missiles will be deployed on destroyers by 2012 to beef up the country's naval defense. The missiles are capable of hitting underwater targets after first flying over water. South Korean destroyers will begin to carry about 60 to 70 long-range anti-submarine missiles.

It will be hard for Pyongyang to react to these developments in its well-known manner, i.e. by clenching its fist, banging the table and launching some missiles: impoverished North Korea has spent an estimated US$700 million this year on nuclear and missile tests, enough to solve its food shortage for at least two years, South Korean news reports said. Even though the north is reported to have earned about US$100 million through the sale of missile technologies, gunboats and multiple rocket artilleries in 2008, the gap is still huge. The additional income might come from another source: North Korea has apparently agreed to reverse-engineer and to mass-produce Russian-designed Kornet anti-tank guided missiles that it recently obtained from Syria. Syria will allegedly also be the buyer of these missiles.

However, in the last century we saw that another country tried to outspend its opponent only to find itself dissolved in the end.

Image: © Korea Times

Sunday, July 26, 2009

India update

We have not had an entry on India in the recent time. So let’s see how things developed at the subcontinent.

Back in June the Times of India reported that after basing Sukhoi-30MKI fighter jets in the North-East, India is now all set to conduct another test of the 3,500-km-range Agni-III ballistic missile towards the end of this month. So let’s see whether India will stick to its schedule or there are again some turtles causing a delay. Once fully-ready by 2011-2012, the Agni-III will provide India with the capability to strike deep into China, with cities like Shanghai and Beijing well within its potent reach.

In the same Times of India article the success of the latest test-launch of the Agni-II was called into question: the trial "failed to meet the laid-down flight parameters''.

Over at they reported on India’s rapid progress on its indigenous missile defense program. In light of speculations that weapon testing could be completed by 2010 they conclude that the defensive program seriously outstrips India's development of an offensive ballistic missile force.

In addition to speed, India's program shows signs of significant sophistication, especially compared to her possible regional adversaries. A case in point is China. While China's offensive ballistic missile program is more advanced than India's, it does not possess a comparable BMD capability. China's surface-to-air missiles could intercept ballistic missiles, but only up to an altitude of 30km. Furthermore, it is thought that China's BMD program falls far behind India's in the area of research and development, particularly in the area of software development and programming, key and indispensable components of any functional missile defense system.
However, India seems not to rest on its laurels. New Delhi intends to develop defenses capable of intercepting longer-range enemy missiles with ranges as high as 6,000 km. This would triple the current capability. Back in March India succeeded in countering a 2,000-km range missile at an altitude of 80 km.

Let’s shift to missiles that are intended to hit targets that are not that far away: two decades after the homegrown Nag anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) was conceived, it has been cleared for production. The Indian Army ordered 4,000 Nags. With a current annual output of 200 and eventually 400 Nags, it will take the state-owned Bharat Dynamics, which produces these missiles, some time to deliver. The DRDO scientist said focus will now shift to the helicopter version, the Helina, which will have an extended range of seven kilometers (other sources mentioned a range of eight kilometers). DRDO scientists stated that the land version also eventually will have a range of seven kilometers.

Picture © Indianarmpics

Friday, July 24, 2009

Level three is not working

Israel Air Force Commander Major General Ido Nehushtan said earlier that the Arrow-3 system, the third layer of Israel’s missile defense shield, will be operational by 2014. The events of the recent days might cause the general to reconsider his statement.

Over the course of the last week, three attempts were made to conduct an intercept test of a mock Iranian Shahab missile with the Arrow-2 anti-missile system off the coast of California. On all three occasions the tests were aborted because of various malfunctions, Israeli defense officials said. The latest attempt was made yesterday, on July 23, but the test was called off after the launch attempt was hit by last-minute technical problems. A target had been released from a C-17 plane but communication glitches between the missile and the radar led U.S. defense officials to abort the test before an intercepting missile could be fired.

Naturally, officials try to play the failure down: malfunctions of systems still in their experimental stage were to be expected.

Isaac Ben-Israel, a retired general and weapons expert, said the interceptor wasn't fired because it is too expensive to use in a test that isn't expected to go according to plan. He said such glitches are common when developing new systems and he did not consider it a significant setback.
As a consequence of this failure, further tests of the system, planned for today and Monday, have also been postponed.

The Arrow project was spurred largely by the failure of the U.S. military's Patriot missiles to intercept Iraqi Scud rockets that struck Israel in the 1991 Gulf War. The program is half-funded by the United States.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Israels three levels of missile defense

The first level, the so-called Iron Dome, is expected to be able to intercept rockets with a range from four kilometers to 70 kilometers like the Kassam and Katyusha rockets fired from the Gaza Strip or from south Lebanon. Israel has successfully tested its anti-rocket level of the defense system. An official statement announced that the tests occurred around July 15 and destroyed an unspecified number of incoming rockets. The previous tests which were conducted at the end of March were equally successful. More tests are expected in the next few months before the defense system is deployed in southern Israel to counteract rockets fired by Palestinian militants based in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. Israel Air Force Commander Major General Ido Nehushtan said that the system would be operational and deployed in 2010.

General Nehushtan also said that the second level of Israel’s missile defense system, the David’s Sling, would be operational within four years. David’s Sling is intended to intercept medium-range rockets.

The third and final level of the missile defense system, the Arrow 3 would be declared operational shortly afterwards. The Arrow-3 is an advanced version of the current long-range system in operation by the Israeli Air Force:

The Arrow-3 exoatmospheric interceptor includes a two stage interceptor based on hit-to-kill technology. Its compact design, outstanding maneuverability, and divert capability serve to enhance its effectiveness against all types of Theater Ballistic Missiles (TBMs) and warheads. The Arrow-3 also includes a state-of-the-art long range acquisition high resolution EO sensor and has a low life cycle cost (LCC).
While the Arrow-3 are still dreams of the future, Israel plans in coming days to launch an Arrow-2 missile interceptor off the California coast. The Israeli air force as of April had conducted 17 tests of the improved Arrow-2 system. The current exercise would be the first Arrow-2 test to target a mock enemy missile capable of traveling 1,000 km. The test launch will simulate the interception of Iranian ballistic missiles, including the Shahab-3 and the Sajil missiles, as well as more advanced missiles Iran has yet to finish developing.

Picture: Arrow test launch, © Israel Aerospace Industries

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A step ahead in the missile-defense-maze

The meeting of the two presidents in Moscow was not only about counting warheads and delivery systems – the issue of missile defense was also discussed. It is time to catch up with the developments:

While visiting Russia, U.S. President Barack Obama and his counterpart, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, have signed a joint statement on missile defense. It reads in between:

“Russia and the United States plan to continue the discussion concerning the establishment of cooperation in responding to the challenge of ballistic missile proliferation. […] We have instructed our experts to work together to analyze the ballistic missile challenges of the 21st century and to prepare appropriate recommendations, giving priority to the use of political and diplomatic methods.”
At a speech at a Moscow university President Obama elaborated further on this and highlighted the purpose of the missile shield and the condition under which the program could be scrapped:
"I want us to work together on a missile defense architecture that makes us all safer. But if the threat from Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile programs is eliminated, the driving force for missile defense in Europe will be eliminated. That is in our mutual interest."
However, some Russian actors are reluctant to make a linkage between the two issues of missile defense and Iran. These topics should be considered separately from each other, believes the head of the international affairs committee of the State Duma lower house of Russia’s parliament Konstantin Kosachev. “The missile defense issue and Iran should not be mixed, no matter how the Americans insist on this,” the lawmaker said on the Echo of Moscow radio station commenting on President Obama’s speech.

Also in the Washington the question is deliberated whether this linkage can be made and if the presumptions on which it is based are watertight. Already back in January a review of the proposed European missile defense sites in Poland and the Czech Republic was announced in order to see if this is the best solution to defend Europe and the United States from long-range ballistic missile threats of third sources. The United States expects to finish the review by the end of the summer.

Moscow hopes that at the end of this review Washington will realize the counter-productivity of its plan to deploy elements of U.S. missile shield in central Europe. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said earlier this week.
"I hope that the revision [of the missile shield plans] in Washington... will result in an understanding that unilateral steps in this sphere are counterproductive."
This viewpoint is shared by Russia’s Federation Council Speaker Sergei Mironov. He told Ekho Moskvy radio that he has reasons to believe that “ultimately, this thoughtless and very dangerous step will not be made - there will be neither radar nor missiles”.

Naturally, Russia cannot assume that Washington will follow its line of thought and it keeps all options open: on the one hand it has already expressed its willingness to collaborate with the United States on missile defense if Washington first dropped the Europe proposal, Interfax reported. On the other hand Russian President Dmitry Medvedev reaffirmed on July 10 Moscow's threat to deploy short-range missiles near Poland if Washington moved to field the European defense system. Russia is also cautious to put off Iran. It has therefore broadened the scope of the missile shield’s purpose. Vladimir Yevseyev, senior research associate with the renowned Institute for World Economy and International Relations, said that:
"Iran is not the only missile threat because there are many countries in the vast Middle East area which have developed missile programs and arms. Some of them would like to create a nuclear infrastructure.”
Yevseyev proposed to deploy missile defense systems in other places than sites proposed by the United States and use, for instance, Russia's S-400 air defense system and the U.S. Patriot system, which are both capable of intercepting missiles from the Middle East.

Some people were less creative – rather a bit off – and recycled an idea from the 1980’s: Space systems designer Boris Chertok recommended building a U.S.-Russian missile defense system in outer space, Interfax reported. Chertok should take a look at the draft PPWT, the “Treaty on Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space and of the Threat or Use of Force against Outer Space Objects” proposed by his own government and China. The draft’s article II starts off with the sentence:
“The States Parties undertake not to place in orbit around the Earth any objects carrying any kinds of weapons.”
Russia is not the only player waiting for the outcome of the review. Also Poland wants a clear answer from Washington on its plans to deploy the interceptors on Polish soil under a 2008 deal, the government spokesman Pawel Gras said on July 12.
"We're still lacking an essential, clear response as to whether the U.S. will go ahead with the shield plan. It's a fundamental question to which we need a definite answer."
Gras underlined furthermore that Warsaw was still waiting for the "U.S. to make good on the promise by the new administration, independently of the shield plan, to deploy a battery of Patriot missiles."

In summary: all options are on the table – and we will have to wait for the outcome of the review to see if the options narrow down.

© picture: Xinhua

Thursday, July 2, 2009

False start

Just as a brief update: Pyongyang is unpredictable as always. All the nice thoughts I came up with in my last post are proven wrong. DRPK did not wait for July 4; it test-fired today four short-range missiles.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

July 4, Scrabble, and whales

You know the story: excuse me for not writing for a long time. I hope I can make up for that with a brief post on our missile-madness poster child: DPRK.

North Korea will likely fire short- or mid-range missiles off its east coast from which it has banned shipping, a senior South Korean government official said last week. South Korean government sources were quoted saying that the Norks are expected fire Scuds with a range of up to 500 kilometers or ground-to-ship missiles with a 160-km range into the Sea of Japan (East Sea).

Another rumor says that Kim Jong-il intends to turn the test launch into a strange July 4 congratulation by firing a long-range missile towards Hawaii. Japan's defense ministry believes that North Korea might now be planning to launch a two-stage or three-stage Taepodong-2 missile towards the U.S. state. With a range of 4,000-6,500 kilometers the missile would fall into the ocean before reaching Hawaii, which is located more than 7,000 kilometers from the Korean peninsula. However, besides killing a few fish or disturbing a stray whale, this would send a strong signal that the DPRK is trying to intensify the intimidation tactics and that it is going to continue to up the stakes in the standoff. The vice chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff is quoted by the LA Times that the West Coast of the United States may be vulnerable to such an attack within three years. However, North Korea is unlikely to be able to develop a nuclear warhead by then.

With all the attention paid to Pyongyang, Russia reminded the world that it wants to have its share of the limelight. North Korea is unlikely to fire a missile rocket in the direction of Russia, but if it does, the anti-missile defense system would destroy the missile in seconds, Russia's General Staff of the Armed Forces said. Thank you for mentioning that. One has to admit, that the comment made by President Obama was equally helpful: “I do want to give assurances to the American people that the T’s are crossed and the I’s are dotted in terms of what might happen,” Obama said in an interview.

Defense Secretary Gates has joined Obama on the Scrabble front. He ordered the deployment of a ground-based, mobile missile intercept system and radar system to Hawaii. North Korea reached new levels of absurdity by criticizing the U.S. for positioning missile defense systems, calling the deployment part of a plot to attack the regime and saying it would bolster its nuclear arsenal in retaliation.

While Obama and Gates work on calligraphy and the alphabet, other U.S. officials are downplaying any imminent threat of a North Korean missile strike. The U.S. intelligence community does not believe North Korea intends to launch a long-range missile in the near future, a U.S. intelligence official told CNN.

If the launch will not occur on July 4, another option for the launch is July 8, because the 15th anniversary of the former North Korean president Kim Il-Sung's death will fall on this day. The test launch could officially be interpreted as a tribute of Commander Kim’s tribute to his grandfather. Soon we will know more…

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

DPRK on speed

It is show time again, at least that’s what it seems. Because the world is still not totally convinced of the greatness of the Dear Leader and its always happy people, Pyongyang decided to fall back to an already established practice: to demonstrate its might. In addition to the nuclear test the Stalinist state also test-fired a barrage of missiles in the recent days.

Three missiles were fired last Monday, May 25, another two on the following day (Martin writes in his blog about a reversed order, referring to the South Korean Yonhap news agency). The latter included one ground-to-air missile and one ground-to-sea missile with a range of roughly 80 miles. For Pyongyang it was readying the sixth missile for launch at a base near its west coast.

The head of South Korea's National Intelligence Service yesterday told lawmakers in Seoul that North Korea could test-launch an ICBM in the aftermath of its latest nuclear test. This assumption was confirmed when spy satellites have spotted signs that North Korea may be preparing to transport another long-range missile to a test launch site. The Yonhap said the size of the missile was similar to the Taepodong-2 tested in April. The preparations are expected to take two weeks so that Pyongyang could be ready to conduct the launch by mid-June. Because Kim Jong-il has a favor for dramaturgy, Pyongyang might time its next missile test to coincide with U.S. President Barack Obama's scheduled June 16 meeting in Washington with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak. Another play in the repertory to be performed at the missile theater is the good old “Gesture of defiance if the United Nations imposes sanctions”.

The launch of the missile might also be attributed to strengthen the position of daddy’s new darling: son numero uno, actually he is number three. The youngest son of the Dear Leader Kim Jong Il has been appointed to the country's all-powerful National Defence Commission, a further sign that he is being groomed as his father's successor. Kim Jong Un, 26, already has a new title: Commander Kim. It goes without saying that a real commander must have a real missile. So much for the North Korean mindset.

In midst of this rising tensions, South Korea requested to buy different types of US SM-2 missiles to beef up its anti-air defenses. Seoul is not the only country to respond to the new situation; also Japan considers a more aggressive missile defense policy. Japanese lawmakers could consider first-strike capabilities as a way guarding against attacks from its antagonist, Kyodo News reported:

"If (the North) succeeds in nuclear miniaturization, its (nuclear-tipped) missiles would be able to hit mainland Japan," Nakatani said. "That would pose a grave and realistic threat to the security of our country. Therefore, we have no choice but to consider switching from the existing passive missile defense to an active missile defense where launch targets on enemy ground can be directly attacked."

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Canvassing or breaktrough?

On Wednesday, May 20, Iran tested its new Sajil-2 MRBM. Teheran touts the missile to be an "advanced technology" missile capable of hitting Israel and U.S. bases in the Gulf. If the assumptions are true that the Sajil-2 has a range of 2,000km, the missile would indeed easily bring these targets into range.

An unnamed U.S. government official said that the Sajil-2 is the longest-range solid-propellant missile Iran has launched so far, raising concerns about the sophistication of Tehran's missile program. Many analysts said the launch of the solid-fuel Sajil-2 was significant because such missiles are more accurate than liquid fuel missiles of similar range, such as Iran's Shahab-3. The Sajil-2 differs from the Sajil which was tested last in November 2008 because it "is equipped with a new navigation system as well as precise and sophisticated sensors," according to Iran's official news agency. U.S. missile tracking systems have confirmed the Sajil-2's precision and other advanced capabilities. Until now, the Americans and Israelis were confident that insurmountable technical difficulties prevented Iran's missile industry from achieving an accurate guidance system but this assumption was nullified by the Sajil-2 launch.

It seems that Iran got a little help from some friends: Israeli security analysts stated that the missile is similar to a model used by Pakistan, suggesting that Islamabad might be assisting Tehran in its weapons program.

However, Charles Vick, a senior technical analyst for, is "not all that impressed" by the test. "It's just another test that confirms they've got the system that was operational last summer.

The Time writes that Iran's missile test may have less to do with advancing its military capability than with getting a last word in on Monday's conversation between President Barack Obama and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Besides that it is also a form of canvassing of the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who is on the election campaign trail.

Quite timely, the East-West Institute published a joint U.S.-Russian threat assessment on Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities. Make sure to take a look at Martin Senn’s Arms Control Blog to get the content in a nutshell. At the same time, the Jerusalem Post came up with its own assessments how many missiles Iran has and will have in the near future: Iran is about to mass produce long-range missiles.

This of course has to be taken with a big grain of salt... like almost every piece of news from the Middle East.

Picture © AFG / Getty

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Air-launched BrahMos in 2010

The BrahMos has already been inducted by the Indian Army and the Navy. While the Navy version was the first to be inducted in 2006, the Army ordered $2 billion worth of land-based BrahMos missiles last month. Now increased efforts are being made to develop the air-launched version.

Domain-B refers to reports which quote unidentified ministry of defense officials as saying that the modification work on the aircraft is expected to be complete by early 2010, though no deadlines have been set.

The aerial version of the BrahMos will be shorter in length than the standard land or marine versions and will have the capability to auto-launch towards the target after being released from the aircraft by the pilot. It will be integrated on Ilyushin Il-38 maritime surveillance planes and the Su-30 MKI. India has already dispatched two of its Sukhois to Russia for modification of the aircraft's fuselage so that they will be able to carry the BrahMos.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

DPRK's Taepodong 2 test a success

Immediately after North Korea's trial launch last month discussions started whether the launch was successful or not. According to a Japanese Defense Ministry report released on Friday, the trial demonstrated an improvement in the country's long-range missile capability in the years since Pyongyang’s last test. The report predicts that the DPRK would probably be able to continue increasing the reach of its missiles, which should grow more accurate and capable of delivering heavier payloads. The Asahi Shimbun reported that the ballistic missile launch in April was likely aided by materials and technology from third countries.

Prior to the April-test the question came up whether Japan or the United States might (try to) shoot down the Taepodong 2 missile. This did not happen. But U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates revealed yesterday for the first time that the United States has 30 ground-based interceptors specifically focused on defending against missile launches from North Korea. Earlier plans to increase the number of interceptors to 44 were at least temporarily shelved because there is – according to Gates – no immediate need. Evil to him who evil thinks, it is certainly a pure coincidence that this information was publicized on the very same day on which Gates explained plans to cut the budget for a missile shield system.

Even in light of the recent test, some experts do not consider Pyongyang to be the main threat. David Kay, former chief nuclear weapons inspector with the International Atomic Energy Agency said that the main threat is "the transfer of that technology to others, particularly the Iranians. North Korea has sold and traded every weapon it's ever been able to produce with others. It's the main supplier to the Iranians of missile technology. And the Iranians are quite capable of improving, with foreign assistance, whatever they get from North Korea, they've shown that they can do this. So you do worry about their missiles being improved by the Iranians."

Update: Geoffrey over at the Arms Control Wonk published some ideas 'Why did the 2006 launch fail'

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Recently on eBay

We have a broad variety of nonproliferation instruments, of export controls and of counter proliferation efforts. But still there are times when you ask yourself ‘How could this happen’. Have you recently taken a look at the things offered on eBay?

A British telecommunications firm uncovered launch procedures for the U.S. Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system on a used hard drive purchased on eBay, the London Independent reported today.
This is off-topic but Cliff Burns from the Export Law Blog wrote that another ebayed hard-drive contained security logs from the German Embassy in Paris. It seems that there is a increased need to spread a data protection / destruction manual...

Saturday, May 9, 2009

New Missile Defense Budget plans

President Obama released the federal budget for 2010 on Thursday, May 7, and it holds significant changes for the budget year that begins on October 1. An official summary provides the following information:

The fiscal 2010 budget will reduce the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) program by $1.2 billion, leaving a fiscal 2010 request of $7.8 billion for MDA:
· The program will be restructured to focus on the rogue state and theater missile threat.
· Ground-based interceptors in Alaska will not be increased as planned, but research and development will be funded to improve existing capabilities to defend against long-range rogue missile threats.
· The second airborne laser prototype aircraft will be canceled due to affordability and technology problems, keeping the existing aircraft as a technology demonstration effort.
· The Multiple Kill Vehicle (MKV) program will be terminated because of significant technical challenges.
Let’s expand on the first point: this shifting focus includes a move away from boost-phase intercept programs and thereby belying earlier calls for the boost-phase which was regarded to be essential to defend America. The new policy envisages intercepts during the ascent-phase. The ascent phase starts after powered flight, but before a ballistic missile deploys decoys or executes maneuvers to avoid being shot down in the post-boost-phase of its flight. MDA’s Executive Director Rear Admiral David Altwegg said that the ascent phase intercepts are "significantly less challenging […] with the technologies now available." He continued: "Our studies tell us that this ascent-phase interceptor effort will provide the margin of superiority needed and replace boost-phase as we now know it."

Riki Ellison, Chairman and Founder of the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, laid out that the development of ascent and upper boost-phase missile defense capabilities will require SM3/ AEGIS development, enhanced THAAD capability, and deploying a Space Tracking and Surveillance System (STSS) constellation.

This is reflected in the new budget: the spending on the THAAD system will rise from $882 million to $1.12 billion and the sea-based equivalent, the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System, will have a budget which is increased by more than 50%, from the current $1.17 billion to $1.86 billion. Some of this money will be channeled from the PAC-3 program, which will be reduced by roughly 60% to $400 million.

The change – and the included cuts – already stirred up emotions. Representative Parker Griffith (D-Ala.) said in a statement. “This budget does not reflect the priorities of North Alabama and fails to provide clear support for national missile defense that is necessary to protect ourselves and our international allies." What a clear set of priorities, North Alabama first, (inter)national security second.

While we wait and see what other reactions come up, we can consider to found a “Hooterville citizens for missile defense” campaign to support representative Parker.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Missile Test Calendar 2009


01/15 USASLAM ER (Standoff Land Attack Missle Expanded Response)



03/17 USATHAAD Interceptor
03/19 RussiaALCM
03/25 USAPAC-3 - failure
03/29 IndiaBrahMos Block II


04/10 RussiaTopol, ICBM
04/05 DPRKTaepodong-2, ICBM (?) - failure
04/07 IsraelArrow 2
04/15 IndiaPrithvi-II, nuclear-capable SRBM









Missile Test Calendar 2009

Dear readers,
I hope you had a nice Labor Day weekend (those of you who celebrated Labor Day on Friday). I laboriously tried cover up with the missing test launches and set up the announced Missile Test Calendar 2009 page. It certainly contains several gaps which I will hopefully be able to fill in the future. Any hints are highly appreciated.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Back online

Dear readers,

thank you for bearing with me in spite of this unduly long break. This should have been the last interruption for the foreseeable future so that I can return now to the normal blogging frequency and style. Today I would like to start off slowly and simply refer you to the latest CNS Feature Story - The North Korean Rocket Launch: International Reactions and Implications. Kudos to JD, Stephanie and Masako for providing us with their valuable insight.

In the next days I will create a new page with the Missile Test Calendar 2009.

Friday, February 20, 2009

to-do list for the weekend

Dear reader,

once again, I can only supply you with a brief list of links to missile-related articles. As announced, this will be the last article for a while. I will be back online in April. It would be great to see you back then.


Obama Likely Flexible on Missile Shield
Poland, Czech Republic Worried by Obama's Intentions on Missile Defense
Poland ready to conclude U.S. missile shield negotiations: FM
No timetable exists for radar on Czech soil - U.S. source
Biden hints at compromise with Russia on missile defense plan
Obama's arms reduction idea a threat to missile defense in Europe?
Missile shield plans delayed, but not discontinued?
UK backs missile defense shield
Russian missile plans depend on US
Ballistic Missile Defense Efforts Tied to Iran, Gates Says
Belarus says air defense pact with Russia not aimed at missile shield
Iran denies claim its missiles can hit anywhere in world
Iran, Russia, U.S.: the BMD link

Missile Defense

Kinetic energy weapons may be best way to intercept missiles
Kinetic Energy Interceptor shows promising flexibility
Airborne Laser offers new era for ballistic missile defense
NATO keen on missile shield in Europe
South Korea to complete missile defense system by 2012
South Korea May Join U.S. Missile Shield
Geopolitical implications of missile defense
Missile Defense in the Obama Budget
India Working Towards LASER Based Missile Defense System
US in talks with India for providing missile defence


North Korea Prepares Missile Near Launch Site
South Korea says DPRK’s missile test would violate UN resolutions
A look at DPRK's missile arsenal
North Korea eyes disputed sea border for missiles-media


U.S. urges Russia to consider missile offer
U.S.-Russia: Missile Diplomacy
Kissinger calls for missile cuts
France transfers more anti-tank missile technology to India
Russia and Iran's missiles
Russia expands production of precision guided weapons, see also here
Iran builds S-300-style anti-aircraft missile defense system
Iran's Missiles: Don't Go Ballistic
Black Market Missiles Still Common in Iraq
Brahmos field testing today, February 20
China can't stop India's missile system

Thursday, February 5, 2009

I want YOU

I am sorry to inform you that I will not be able to switch back to the normal blogging frequency any time soon. I have to finish some other projects and from mid-February on, the Missile Monitor will take another blog-out until early April.

This is a really unfortunate situation. Therefore I would like to ask you, dear reader, if you know anyone who might be interested to step in as guest / co-blogger so that it can be ensured that this important topic of missile proliferation gets the attention that it deserves.

It is time for another round-up of reading

First some articles concerning our good old European GMD base:
U.S. eager to search dialogue with Russia on missile defense
• While some say that Russia offers Obama olive branch on missiles other media reports that Russia denies missile suspension. The Warsaw Business Journal brings it to the point: Conflicting rumors surround Kaliningrad missiles
Russia says missile threat [to deploy its Iskander missiles] stands, only as response
Czech minister hails freezing of Russian missile plans
Poles, Czechs wary on Russia missile move, eye Obama
Czech adamant on missile shield referendum
Czech lawmakers postpone missile defense vote
Rethinking U.S. missile defense: “Between 1985 and 2008, America has spent $116 billion on missile defense, with an additional $50 billion envisioned over the next six years”. Taken together, this incredibly big sum makes up more than one fourth of the U.S. package intended to bring up the economy back up to its feet. And it was spent for a project which is “an expensive insurance policy whose payoff remains doubtful”
Missile shield could boost U.S.-Russia ties
German Foreign Minister Steinmeier seeks U.S. missile defense shift

And here something on the itsy bitsy rest of the world:
Iran says 'self-sufficient' in missile production
Iran's slow but sure missile advance
India rushes to buy anti-tank missiles
Failed test and rocketing costs: Army says no to BrahMos missile
Second phase of BrahMos missile program to be launched Feb 10
India lags behind Pakistan in missiles (an Indian perspective)
Pakistan surges well ahead of India in missile technology (from a Pakistani viewpoint)
Russian space agency to support Bulava project
Russia boosts targeting tech for Iskander missiles
Russia wants new START and BMD bases scrapped
DPRK space ambitions raise missile concerns, analyst warns
DPRK set to test long-range missile as tension rises in region
China will create a versatile missile force
Missile Defense in Japan