Thursday, February 21, 2008

Postscript to NROL-21

Gizmodo has a Liveleak Video of the NROL-21 intercept. The video on impact in General Cartwright's briefing is very similar to those of earlier test shots like that shown after the Read More!

This is video of an earlier test. Wait for the sensor images of the strike at the end. It makes shooting down high-speed, high-altitude targets almost like a repeatable routine.




The shootdown provides a peek at the improvements in target tracking and processing capability now entering service. Popular Mechanics had a recent story on improvements to the Aegis radar system involving "digital beamforming".

The new radar system, called digital beamforming, could become a game-changing technology that may help defeat an overwhelming attack on U.S. warships by missiles. It could also answer one of the chief complaints about ballistic missile defense systems—that decoys or other countermeasures could easily hide a warhead and spoof interceptors. If placed on satellites, new spy and environmental monitoring missions become possible from orbit.

All this comes as an improvement to an existing system called phased-array radar. While traditional radars spin their faces to seek targets, phased-array radars guide a reflective beam electronically from a stationary panel. They can track things by moving the main beam very quickly, within microseconds, at numerous targets. But the phased array systems cannot seamlessly track multiple targets at the same time without losing resolution. Lockheed’s improvement on these radars allows true simultaneous tracking, with each target followed by a dedicated radar beam.

Digital beamforming, then, combines the cutting edges of antenna and digital technologies: A radar array digitizes the signals it receives, preserving all the incoming information. This data is then used to form as many radar beams as necessary to track as many objects as appear. The crucial advantage to this approach is the ability to confidently cover a vast area with a single system.

The Navy may also have the ability to integrate target tracking data from a plethora of sources in addition to the ship's organic radars. These improvements in fire control combined with the airframe capabilities of the Standard missile system may mean that these already deadly surface combatants have become even more so.




Labels: ,

23 Comments:

Blogger joe buz said...

This shot makes me feel some pride...I wonder how it makes Ms. Obama feel?

2/21/2008 07:52:00 AM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

This is a very big deal because the technology instantly obsoletes everybody's ICBM inventory. For the techies: Can this technology be defeated?

It also makes each and every US Carrier Group the personification of Shiva - the Destroyer of Worlds. Liberal heads will be exploding across academia as the implications of this awesome demonstration of US exceptionalism settles in.

2/21/2008 08:30:00 AM  
Blogger Ash said...

What? Is China part of the US now?

2/21/2008 09:28:00 AM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

I don't want to trivialize the Chinese shootdown but as I understand it the Chinese shootdown hit a satellite in a stable orbit with a secondary vehicle. Impressive but not an ICBM killer.

The USN shot hit a target in a decaying orbit. Perhaps the analogy is that the Chinese hit a running gunman and the USN hit his fired bullet. If I'm correct the qualitative difference is enormous.

2/21/2008 09:58:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

PeterBoston - it would just kill you to have to say, "Yay, America!" about anything, wouldn't it?

2/21/2008 12:18:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

.

2/21/2008 12:19:00 PM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

nahncee

You are either kidding or blind.

2/21/2008 12:29:00 PM  
Blogger shivermetimbers said...

It sounded like peterboston was giving high-fives to the Navy folks, to me.

2/21/2008 12:53:00 PM  
Blogger dla said...

Funny, but a quick glance at CNN and Drudge showed that this feat didn't make the top news. I wonder why?

2/21/2008 01:12:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Breitbart has Amazing Video of Shootdown

2/21/2008 02:04:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

S/He's got Ash Derangement Sydrome, Boston, sometimes blurs the vision.
Ash victimizes again.

2/21/2008 02:06:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2/21/2008 02:16:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

"While this is enough to destroy other incoming missiles, the critics said that this wasn't going to be enough to destroy the much larger satellite."
---
Maybe these "experts" could learn by crash testing their cars at 22,000 mph.
Or, to be more realistic, they just accelerate to 17,000, and get hit by a bowling ball doing 5,000.

2/21/2008 03:16:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

I'm interested in whether RWE or anyone can describe the distribution of velocities of the fragments that concern Eggplant so.

Seems like none would be going faster,
...is the problem those that are kicked into a higher orbit?

2/21/2008 03:20:00 PM  
Blogger Wm_Edwin said...

This test reinforces my impression that the nimbleness of an organization in applying its technological capital is more important than ever: the NROL satellite was waylaid by a modified SM-3, not a dedicated satellite-buster like the Chinese used.

peterboston, I agree that it doesn't pay to underestimate the Chinese, but they've got years to pay for, to reach the level of operational competence the US has just shown. That's another major difference between the two events, besides the issue of orbital mechanics you point out.

I don't agree that this "instantly obsoletes everybody's ICBM inventory," partly because I don't understand all the issues here, but...

Note that the question has become, "should we deploy an ABM system?" not "is it possible for us to deploy an ABM system?"

That's just as useful as an actual ABM system, in its own way.

That distinction is played on in this
interesting Pentagon news release - a pointed memo about the advisability of "openness" in military operations like this.

Part of the message, obviously, is that the United States has such confidence in its technology - and how the U.S. uses it - that it's willing to bet on the operational success of a revolutionary development like this, in the public eye.

2/21/2008 04:56:00 PM  
Blogger Wm_Edwin said...

Want to know what the motto of the USS Lake Erie is? Read it by the light of a launching SM-3.

Ahem. Woot! Go Navy!

2/21/2008 04:59:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

For the Record

2/21/2008 06:20:00 PM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

This brings back some great memories.

My dad was at different times, a range safety officer and administrator for the Pacific Missile Range at Point Mugu, California. (If I recall correctly, the range safety duties were part of his wider tasking.)

I remember watching demonstrations for the public in 1962 of the Regulus I and Regulus II missiles. (By that time the Regulus had been deployed as the first nuclear cruise missile for over a decade on U.S. Naval surface ships and subs, so it was pretty old stuff.) They flew target drones --- they installed remotely-operated piloting systems in old Navy jets. The target flew off shore at an a low enough altitude that we could see it and the contrail. They launched the missile, and we could watch it streak toward the target, and they made spectacular explosions, with flaming fragments and debris falling for minutes afterward.

Fun stuff.

That was the same year as the Cuban Missile Crisis, fer Pete's sake!

2/21/2008 11:21:00 PM  
Blogger Zenster said...

For those of you who may have missed it, a message of far greater significance was buried in this story:

While traditional radars spin their faces to seek targets, phased-array radars guide a reflective beam electronically from a stationary panel. They can track things by moving the main beam very quickly, within microseconds, at numerous targets. But the phased array systems cannot seamlessly track multiple targets at the same time without losing resolution. Lockheed’s improvement on these radars allows true simultaneous tracking, with each target followed by a dedicated radar beam.

Phased array radar is one of the most incredible advances in “Detection and Ranging”—the “DAR” in RADAR—since the klystron tube.

For the uninitiated—whose knowledge of RADAR usually is limited to the usual circular 360° sweep screen—please imagine an agile lighthouse beam that can be steered back and forth readily towards any target of interest. A phased array emission system is not a single emitter node being swept across the horizon like conventional RADAR. Instead, the emission face consists of several THOUSAND individual emitters whose individual output signals are carefully controlled by a central computer, right down to the sub-millisecond interval.

By meticulously controlling the arrival and exiting times of each individual node’s emission waves, a planar array’s major output beam is “steered” in a given direction. Much like the magnetic steering yoke of a cathode ray tube’s electron beam, these numerous emission nodes collectively participate to inductively direct the overall detection beam in a given direction.

This is no small achievement and the results are nothing short of astonishing. A single unmoving, multi-component planar array is endowed with the ability to sweep across its forward facing domain with a breadth and degree of accuracy—let alone sensitivity—previously unknown to all other militaries. Your full-length bedroom looking glass may just as well have become endowed with the properties of a funhouse mirror.

From the article’s original description, it now seems that signal control geniuses have further articulated phased array radar’s ability. If I am not mistaken, it would seem as if a frog’s unerring tongue can suddenly lash out with the versatility of a giant squid’s tentacles.

Imagine the singular beam of a massive planar array suddenly being subdivided into a throng of independently steered probes. This is what I gather from the foregoing article. Any others who know better than I do, please clarify. There is nothing that stands in the way of “segmenting” a large group of controllable detectors in such a fashion that they cannot begin to behave as individually directed sensors. Just as a field of individual pixels can be converted into many particular characters, so should a large-scale radar phase array be fragmented into a multi-probe sensor group.

2/21/2008 11:43:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Brighter Image
"Don't Give Up the Ship!"

2/22/2008 12:27:00 AM  
Blogger M. Simon said...

The Navy may also have the ability to integrate target tracking data from a plethora of sources in addition to the ship's organic radars.

When I worked on Navy tactical communications in the '80s this was already the design philosophy. It was called Naval Tactical Data Systems then.

I'm sure there have been improvements.

2/22/2008 06:08:00 AM  
Blogger Bugs said...

I was also wondering about countermeasures. Would the stealth methods used on aircraft also work on satellites? Maybe you could use stealthy objects plus non-stealthy decoys that also jam the enemy's radar.

If we don't already have stuff like this, I imagine these tests have got people thinking seriously about it.

2/22/2008 12:11:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

SM-3 launched from the USS Lake Erie

2/22/2008 10:56:00 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home


Powered by Blogger