Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Kongo versus a ballistic missile target

Former Spook comments:

Michigan Senator Carl Levin won't be happy, but allied missile defense efforts reached another important milestone yesterday. In a test conducted off Hawaii, the Japanese Navy destroyer Kongou successfully shot down a mockballistic missile in space, using a U.S.-made SM-3 interceptor missile. The event marked the first time that an allied naval vessel has intercepted--and destroyed--a ballistic missile target. The Kongou and three other Japanese destroyers are equipped with the Aegis radar system and SM-3 missiles that are also found on U.S. vessels. The radar allows the vessel to track missile targets at long ranges and destroy them at high altitude, using the SM-3.



A Japanese news agency said:

In the test, implemented in cooperation with the U.S. Navy, a mid-range ballistic missile was launched from a U.S. military range on Kauai Island at 12:05 p.m. (Hawaii Time). The [Japanese] Maritime Self Defense Force's Kongou, sailing in waters several hundred kilometers away, detected it and fired an SM-3 about four minutes later. About three minutes later, the interceptor reached an altitude of more than 100 km in space and destroyed the target, according to officials.

28 Comments:

Blogger Cannoneer No. 4 said...

Sakuhatchi chimbo Kim Jong Il

12/18/2007 10:43:00 PM  
Blogger Zenster said...

Kim will be lucky to be alive by the end of next year. The real message is being sent to Beijing. Time for Japan to announce that they have nuclear weapons. There's little doubt that they have all the components prefabricated and ready to mate up on a week's notice. The real smackdown is when South Korea and Taiwan go online with nuclear weapons.

You heard it here first: Expect Taiwan to declare independence six weeks before the opening of Beijing's Olympiad.

12/18/2007 11:37:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

You'll like this, Zenster!

» Japanese warship shoots down missile in test off Hawaii

12/19/2007 12:03:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Aegis BMD Stellar Gryphon (FTM-13) Twin Intercept

12/19/2007 12:21:00 AM  
Blogger Francine said...

Experts say the test will likely strengthen the U.S.-Japan defense alliance. But it may also deepen concerns in Beijing that Tokyo could use the technology to help the U.S. defend Taiwan if conflict erupted across the straits.

Good. Good that Beijing is concerned. Pyongyong should get a clue as well.

12/19/2007 03:57:00 AM  
Blogger Francine said...

The bear is coming out of hibernation.

MOSCOW. Dec 19 (Interfax) - Russia's GDP should grow tentatively by 7.6% in 2007, Russian President Vladimir Putin said.

"The Russian economy is growing at a rapid pace. By the end of the year, the country's GDP should grow by about 7.6%. This is a good figure. Consequently, our capabilities are growing as well," Putin said at a session of the State Council in the Kremlin on Wednesday, which dealt with the implementation of the 2007 presidential address to the Federal Assembly.

12/19/2007 06:19:00 AM  
Blogger Francine said...

I guess Bush wants to get the attention of the editors of Time Magazine, since they're infatuated with Putin right now.

President George W. Bush has approved "a significant reduction" in the US nuclear weapons stockpile, cutting it to less than one-quarter its size at the end of the Cold War, the White House said Tuesday.

12/19/2007 06:22:00 AM  
Blogger Tony said...

Successful missile defense, that's impossible, everyone knows that, it's just a delusion of dumb old Ronald Ray-Gun. That's why the mainstream media barely touches all of the successful tests of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD), Aegis/Standard and THAAD. It's so much better to render ourselves defenseless and just surrender, that's the only fair thing to do.

In the Real World, not too long from now, there will be about 100 Aegis cruisers and destroyers deployed by US, Japan and other allies all around the world. Their networked radars will be the eyes of a global missile defense including GMD, THAAD, Standard, Patriot and that new anti-ballistic missile thingy they now launch off platforms as small as the F-16.

Star Wars. Doh!

Now, if only we could get a few of those Airborne Lasers into orbit.

12/19/2007 06:32:00 AM  
Blogger Francine said...

1 Thess. 5:3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Gaza's embattled Hamas leaders are seeking a cease-fire after months of Israeli attacks and sanctions, going so far as to make an unprecedented appeal through the Israeli media, a Hamas official confirmed Wednesday.

12/19/2007 06:32:00 AM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

Defense systems are always about creating uncertainty in the attacker's plans. A suitcase or container bomb can be intercepted -- if timely intelligence could be obtained. The attraction of ballistic missiles was that even if their inbound flight was detected their physical characteristics (high speed, altitude, etc) made them impossible to stop. Now it is known that they can sometimes be stopped. Against foes with a limited nuclear arsenal even partially effective defenses can create significant planning problems.

If for example North Korea (or Iran) had only a small number of ready nuclear weapons, a defensive system on a lucky day might stop most of them. Pondering those odds might keep them from rolling the dice. Building more weapons is an option but doing so makes it harder to prepare a surprise attack without detection.

12/19/2007 07:38:00 AM  
Blogger Triton'sPolarTiger said...

Ladies & Gentlemen,

THIS is how technology is advanced and perfected - conceive, propose concept, design, test (repeating as often as needed to prove or disprove the concept), implement.

Every time I hear someone bellyache about how missile defense is an unworkable pipe dream, a waste of money, an unnecessary provocation, etc, I know immediately that I'm dealing with a fundamentally unserious individual.

What amazes me about this process is how incredibly public we've been about successes and failures in the whole endeavour. Compare to how "black" stealth technology was... at least until Jimmuh Catah let the cat out of the bag while attempting to get re-elected.

One must imagine that images like these have Ahmanutjob's belly button puckered all the way to his backbone... and Kim Jong Il, being somewhat older(?), feeling a certain warm sensation rolling down one leg.

12/19/2007 11:36:00 AM  
Blogger Triton'sPolarTiger said...

Tony re the airborne laser... I understand it's very, very close... some of our more connected posters may have some unclassified info that they can share... I've lost my links, though Googling "airborne laser" should get the latest info.

Now, on a more low tech level, hopefully we'll manage to avoid a container nuke on the Hudson, but I'm less optimistic of our preventing this type of event, since the sheer volume of containerized freight entering the US makes individual inspections prohibitively expensive... and more or less demands stopping the islamic bomb de jour "over there" before it gets here... something our elite class has apparently little interest in pursuing.

12/19/2007 11:44:00 AM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

Here's an interesting Powerpoint presentation on the physics of detecting nuclear weapons hidden in containers.

The bottom line is:

Gammas and neutrons are the only detectable emissions from nuclear weapons
Both have limited penetration in air or solids
Cannot be detected from satellites or high flying airplanes
Emissions from weapons are weak and difficult to detect
Size Matters
Resolution Matters
Background Matters
Germanium is the Gold Standard for gamma-ray detectors
Has very high resolution, good efficiency, requires cooling
Thermal neutron gas proportional counters are the standard for neutrons
Moderate efficiency, requires moderation
Active imaging has the best chance of detecting a weapon hidden inside a container
Systems are large and complex
Require experienced operator to interpret


But the size and bulk of these smuggled container devices means they will forever be useless against mobile targets or hardened targets surrounded by an outer perimeter. They're always going to be countervalue. The counterstrike force is almost certainly going to remain unscathed. Any nation or culture which uses such a container nuke on the US will face the possibility that retaliation will return immediately or even at leisure and possibly repeatedly.

12/19/2007 12:20:00 PM  
Blogger Peter Grynch said...

More good news:
SEOUL — Conservatives stormed back into power here today after a decade of liberal governments, winning an overwhelming victory in South Korea's presidential election.

Lee Myung-bak, the candidate of the right-wing Grand National Party, a self-made man who climbed from a youth of poverty to become chief executive officer of Hyundai Engineering and Construction and mayor of Seoul, demands North Korea"s verifiable denuclearization in return for economic aid and says he will rejuvenate Seoul"s historic alliance with Washington.

http://washingtontimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071219/FOREIGN/35508425/1001

Without a liberal government in S Korea to enable him, Kim Jong Il is on very thin ice!

12/19/2007 03:25:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

Interesting that Germainium is the "gold Standard" for nuke detectors. Germanium semiconductors were among the earliest produced, and had the advantage of a lower voltage P-N junction - but were also environmentally limited - they would quit when they got a tad warm. We moved on to silicon for semiconductors and some of the more exotic materials such as Gallum Arsinide. So now Germainium is back in another application.

To me, container case nukes present some horrible problems for the attacker. Not only can they not be used against real military targets, but they would seem to be very vulnerable to shipment problems or interception. If intercepted, any law enforcement agency at least equal to Mayberry's could figure out where it came from. And then your goose is cooked! Literally. Would be tempting to just arm the thing and toss it out the back of a cargo aircraft over the sender's capital city - but we could no doubt find better ways to express our displeasure.

But the counter-value argument still applies. As I like to point out to people who fear a missile defense system will result in Fortress America, all it would take is the detonation of a nuke offshore of a US major port to cause people to freak. It would be all but useless in terms of Counter-force, but today deterrance has moved beyond that.

By the way, does anyone recall if the original Kongo was the ship Capt Colin P. Kelly was after?

12/19/2007 04:33:00 PM  
Blogger El Jefe Maximo said...

Capt. Kelly was supposedly after BB Kongo's sister, Haruna (third ship of the Kongo class. It is believed that the ship
Capt. Kelly and crew actually attacked on 11 Dec.1941 was the Myoko class Heavy Cruiser Ashigara.

The old BB Kongo (built in the UK, BTW) met her end by the torpedoes of US submarine Sealion on 21 Nov.1944 in the Formosa Straits.

12/19/2007 06:19:00 PM  
Blogger always right said...

Triton'sPolarTiger said
...something our elite class has apparently little interest in pursuing.

How about changing "the Hudson river" to the "Potomac Bay"?

12/20/2007 09:26:00 AM  
Blogger always right said...

Peter Grynch said
More good news: South Korea

While we are on the verge of giving power back to the old 60's hippie (liberals') hands.

12/20/2007 09:29:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

Okay, I was sort of thinking that Capt Kelly thought he was going after the Haruna but it in fact was a heavy cruiser, the Kongo. But as I recall now, both Kongo and Haruna were old battleships. I think that the Haruna was converted into a half-aircraft carrier after Midway and that it ended its days tied up at the same port as the Yamato. The Yamato made one last sortie but the Haruna did not. In fact, they had disguised the Haruna and another half-carrier with tree branches to try to make it look like an island, and supposedly a U.S airplane dropped a note there saying that it was time to change the foliage on those battleships because it was looking a bit ratty.

As for lasers in space, the original test mission was supposed to use two Titan IV’s, and the two payloads were going to be docked remotely in orbit. We were having fun trying to figure out how to do that! Then, by the mid-90’s, the test payload had shrunk by half, to one Titan IV class sized payload (40,000 lb), but the fully operational weapon was supposed to weight twice as much – and we had and have nothing that can launch that. I would not be surprised to hear that the size has shrunk by half again in the last decade, making it possible to get a fully operational laser battle station on a Delta IV Heavy.

The deployment of even a test model of a laser battle station will be a Significant Emotional Event for some people, since it will have a considerable anti-satellite capability in its own right. And as for the full-up versions, it almost certainly will not only work against missiles in mid-course and satellites in orbit but airplanes at the higher altitudes as well. The only reason SDIO did not do anti-aircraft tests was that it was considered to be Politically Incorrect to do so.

12/20/2007 09:52:00 AM  
Blogger El Jefe Maximo said...

rwe:

The Japanese post-Midway carrier-battleship conversions were the two Ise class BB's, and not Haruna (Kongo's sister. All three old BB's finished the war at Kure, sunk in shallow water by air attack. Huyga (the other Ise) was grounded by her crew before she went down, and there are some great photos of her post grounding floating around out there.

Colin Kelly's target in '41 is believed to have been CA Ashigara.

12/20/2007 11:20:00 AM  
Blogger Peter Grynch said...

Space based laser platforms are too vulnerable to attack from ground based laser or missile attacks. The Chinese are currently using lasers to blind our spy satellites. Up the wattage a bit, and you can take out a laser satellite.

I used to be an expert on the SM-2 missile system, back in my Navy days, and it was a very impressive system. The new, SM-3 system is light years ahead of the technology I used to work with.

The SM-3 evolves from the proven SM-2 Block IV design. SM-3 uses the same booster and dual thrust rocket motor as the Block IV missile for the first and second stages and the same steering control section and mid course missile guidance for maneuvering in the atmosphere. To support the extended range of an exo-atmospheric intercept, additional missile thrust is provided in a new third stage for the SM-3 missile, containing a dual pulse rocket motor for the early exo-atmospheric phase of flight and a Lightweight Exo-Atmospheric Projectile (LEAP) Kinetic Warhead (KW) for the intercept phase. Upon second stage separation, the first pulse burn of the Third Stage Rocket Motor (TSRM) provides the axial thrust to maintain the missile’s trajectory into the exo-atmosphere. Upon entering the exo-atmosphere, the third stage coasts. The TSRM’s attitude control system maneuvers the third stage to eject the nosecone, exposing the KW’s Infrared (IR) seeker. If the third stage requires a course correction for an intercept, the rocket motor begins the second pulse burn. Upon completion of the second pulse burn, the IR seeker is calibrated and the KW ejects. The KW possesses its own attitude control system and guidance commands are acted upon by a solid divert propulsion system. The IR seeker acquires the target. Tracking information is continuously transmitted to the guidance assembly which controls the divert propulsion system.

http://www.globalsecurity.org/space/systems/sm3.htm

Of course, the counter to this is a MIRV warhead, which has multiple warheads launched off of a single missile. Russia perfected this (or stole our design) many years ago. I'm pretty sure China has the MIRV technology, or is working on it.

And don't forget, there's about a 90% probability that the next atomic bomb will be delivered in a Ryder truck, not on an ICBM.

12/20/2007 11:30:00 AM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

Container nukes DO have value, if the source (Hezbollah, AQ) is transnational and with no assumed return address.

Even more so if politics is assumed to constrain the US in response. Obama and likely Hillary would merely hug first responders. No meaningful military response would be in the offing guaranteeing of course more until there is finally massive retaliation.

I'll note Iran seems going down the Uranium container-bomb route. They've had historic good success with truck bombs with no comeback so why not the atomic truckbomb?

12/20/2007 06:05:00 PM  
Blogger Peter Grynch said...

Let's say two years from now a nuke goes off suddenly in New York. An Iranian proxy group like Hamas claims it has six more nukes hidden in other American cities and will blow them up if America doesn't evacuate the Mideast. Iran disavows all knowledge and says the group is acting on its own.

Oil shoots up to $200/bbl and the EU, Russia, China, and the UN all demand that America take no aggressive actions against "innocent" countries which would aggravate the situation. They call for dialogue.

You are President Obama, what would you do?

12/20/2007 07:57:00 PM  
Blogger geoffb said...

This talk of the old WWII Japanese warships got me to thinking of a book my father brought back after the war. It was a German book (like Janes) on the Japanese Navy printed in 1942. It had, in the back, silhouettes of all the Japanese warships and columns listing their specs. All in German of course. According to it there were 4 ships in the Kongo class, Kongo, Hiei, Haruna and Kirisima. No pictures of the Kongo but some of Kirisima and Haruna.

12/20/2007 11:15:00 PM  
Blogger El Jefe Maximo said...

Geoffb:

These ships are interesting to me, so I'll comment again...if this far off topic offends, sorry.

The Kongo was class leader, and in some ways the most interesting of the ships, built as a battlecruiser in Britain by the Vickers-Armstrong yard. She influenced the redesign of HMS Tiger (originally intended to be another Lion class BC). The Kongos and Tiger were probably the most successful battlecruisers built, the Lions were possibly the most hopeless capital ships ever built by any power.

Kongo's three sisters Hiei, Haruna and Kirishima were all built in Japan, but Hiei incorporated at least some British materials.

In the early 30's, the ships got significant refits, and were uprated to battleships. They were all prized by the IJN for their relatively high speed (30 kts) but as WWII came on, their age was showing a bit -- they lacked AA armament, air search radar [hard to come by in the early war IJN anyway] and appear to have had insufficient armor and torpedo protection.

Hiei was used as a gunnery training ship from '32-'40 so Japan could comply with the London treaty. She usually teamed with Kirishima, and this pair was the heavy escort for all or parts of Nagumo's carrier striking force in the early part of the war [Pearl Harbor, Rabaul, Port Darwin, Indian Ocean raid, Midway]. Hiei was the first to die, and the first Japanese BB lost -- at the First Naval Battle of Guadalcanal on 13 November '42 (scuttled following the action, and damage by US a/c).

Kirishima survived Hiei by barely a day, sunk the night of 14-15 November by USS Washington et al at Second Guadalcanal.

Kongo as I noted in an earlier comment, met her end in the Formosa Straits, and Haruna was sunk in port at Kure near the end.

The Kongos turned out to be really useful for the Japanese -- their other BB's were too slow to use in the surface actions around Guadalcanal -- the Fusos and Ises were 25 knot ships, the Nagatos 27 kts -- even the Yamatos were only 27 kts. The Kongos had better speed, (although somewhat under armed for WW II) and could keep up with the carriers.

Had Yamamoto sent all four south with Abe for the night battle of 13 November, it could have been quite disagreeable for the Americans. It was bad enought with two.

12/21/2007 07:48:00 AM  
Blogger Peter Grynch said...

Some good info from Frontpagemagazine:
Land-based Patriots were sent to defend U.S. forces and allies around the world, but the ABM treaty prevented the U.S. from developing either a national missile defense or ship-based defenses. The problem became critical in 1998 when North Korea launched a Taepodong missile over northern Japan. It was a blatant threat to Japan and its three stages meant it also had the potential to reach the United States. Tokyo began deploying defenses.

Japan placed 27 Patriot PAC-2 batteries around the country, put in orbit its own spy satellites, bought Aegis radar systems for six new destroyers, joined the U.S. in developing a longer-range ship-based missile interceptor, and allowed the U.S. to put an X-band radar in northern Japan. Last March, Japan began deploying more capable Patriot PAC-3s at 16 locations to protect major cities, military installations and other potential targets.

Japan also is modifying its four operational Aegis destroyers to carry SM-3 missile interceptors. The destroyer Kongo, which made the successful intercept on Monday, is the first non-U.S. ship to shoot down a ballistic missile. The U.S. Navy already has shot down 11 in 13 attempts with ship-based interceptors.

By the end of 2008 the United States will have 18 Aegis warships equipped for ballistic missile defense. Japan eventually will have six, and Australia, South Korea, Taiwan and others also likely will put missile defenses on their ships. Ship-based defenses can be coordinated with land-based defenses, including the various models of Patriots in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, and the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense when it is ready in a few years.

Ship-based SM-3s can intercept missiles outside the atmosphere. Any that get through can be stopped inside the atmosphere by the land-based interceptors. Such defenses can both protect against North Korean missiles and reduce intimidation by China, which has nearly 1,000 missiles opposite Taiwan.

For decades the Soviet missile defenses around Moscow were the only defenses against long-range missiles anywhere. The Russians are now modernizing those defenses against the kind of missiles being developed by Iran. Even though Russia claims Iran is no threat, in August Col. Gen. Alexander Zelin, commander of the Russian air force, announced activation of the first S-400 interceptors as part of Moscow's missile defense.

Russian reports claim the S-400 can reach out 250 miles and stop missiles with ranges greater than 2,000 miles. This covers both Iran's Shahab-3 and the new solid-fuel Ashura, the development of which Tehran announced three weeks ago, claiming a range of 1,250 miles.
http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/Read.aspx?GUID=2957BD61-D34B-45B6-9493-617AF2896589

12/21/2007 11:05:00 AM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

Ochyin Interyesno.

Mighty intriguing for Iran to choose the name "Ashura" for its primary long-range ballistic missile.

In several other places I have provided some tedious background information on ASHURA. Among Sunni, it more or less a day of fasting and reflection.

But to the Shia (Shi'ite Muslims) Ashura marks the Martyrdom of Husayn ibn Ali, grandson of the Prophet, who with some 72 of his retainers and family, was ambushed and murdered in the Battle of Karbala in the 61st year of their faith (AD 680.)

Those of us who were conscious by 1979 recall watching newsreels during the so-called "Iranian Hostage Crisis" showing tens of thousands of devout Iranian Shi'ite Muslims marching through Tehran, whipping themselves with barbed thongs and slicing their foreheads and scalps with sharp knives as part of this vast commemoration of the loss of Husayn ibn Ali, who because of his direct blood relation to Mohammed is regarded as the only proper heir to the leadership of Islam.

The Shia put a lot of stock in this particular event, which to them symbolizes and embodies their striving against tyranny and injustice.


You can get lots more information by doing a search on "Ashura" via Google, Ask.com, or A.9

12/21/2007 03:02:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Brilliant Pebbles - if the balloon ever does go up, Western industry would put the equivalent of Sidewinders into orbit faster than the USA built the world's biggest Navy after Pearl Harbor.

That's all Brilliant Pebbles was, speedy air-to-air interceptors in the empty vacuum of space, where they would go faster, farther, but just as accurately as they could in the thick envelope of air where they inerringly shoot down the best fighters every time.

Brilliant Pebbles would work - tomorrow.

12/22/2007 03:27:00 PM  

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