Saturday, January 15, 2005

The missing link

I have just returned to the blogosphere after a 72 hour detour to hardware hell. I am still trying to get my home box reconfigured like I had it.

It has been brought to my attention that the thread about our missile defense system has vanished in my absence.

I have no idea what happened to it, and this has never happened before. It certainly wasn't due to any actions of the management.

Please consider this as its replacement.

Pentagon may never publicly declare missile defense system fully ready.

The Pentagon may never publicly declare that its new missile defense system is fully ready to defend against long-range missiles aimed at the United States, but it already has a limited capability against a small-scale attack, a Pentagon official said Thursday.

The Bush administration's goal was to activate the system by the end of 2004.

"We haven't made a declaration that we are now hereby operational," said Larry Di Rita, spokesman for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. "I don't know that such a declaration will ever be made."

Even so, "We have a nascent operational capability," Di Rita said, adding that the focus is on testing and evaluating the system as it is improved and expanded and eventually put on 24-hour alert.

"It's limited," he said. "It's not what everybody wishes it may be, perhaps. But some capability exists, while you continue to improve upon the capability of that system."

Asked whether that emerging capability satisfies President Bush's goal for missile defense at this stage, Di Rita replied: "The system is what it is. And it will get better over time."

The spokesman did not explain why the Pentagon might never publicly declare the system fully ready. At some point the interceptor missiles will be placed on permanent alert – a condition in which they will be capable of being fired from their silos at any time of day or night, on short notice.

Rick Lehner, a spokesman for the Missile Defense Agency, which is managing the program, said the interceptors have not yet been placed on alert, and he did not know when they would be.

The most recent test of the system, on Dec. 15, encountered a last-minute problem. The interceptor missile that was to be launched in pursuit of a target missile carrying a mock warhead was never fired. Di Rita said that setback had nothing to do with the decision not to declare the system "operational."

Air Force Lt. Gen. Henry A. Obering, director of the Missile Defense Agency, told reporters on Wednesday that the Dec. 15 test will be redone in mid-February, and additional tests in April, July and September will proceed as planned.

The missile defense system will initially rely on interceptors based in underground silos at Fort Greely, Alaska, and Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., as well as radars in Alaska, California, at sea aboard ships with Aegis radars, and in orbit.

Re-Posted By: Redneck Texan