NATIONAL MISSILE DEFENSE (NMD)
NATIONAL MISSILE DEFENSE (NMD)
National missile defence (NMD) is a generic term for a type of missile defence intended to shield the entire country against incoming missiles, such as intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBMs) or other ballistic missiles. Interception might be by anti-ballistic missiles or directed-energy weapons such as lasers. Interception might occur,
- near the launch point (boost phase),
- during flight through space (mid-course phase), or
- during atmospheric descent (terminal phase).
This term is used to refer to the American nationwide antimissile program the United States has had in development since the 1990s. After the renaming in 2002, the term now refers to the entire program, not just the ground-based interceptors and associated facilities.
The system is administered by the Missile Defence Agency. There are several other agencies and military commands which play a role, such as the United States Army Space and Missile Defence Command.
GOALS: In the 1990s and early 21st century, the stated mission of NMD has changed to the more modest goal of preventing the United States from being subject to nuclear blackmail or nuclear terrorism by a so-called rogue state.
COMPONENTS OF NMD: The current NMD system consists of several components.
- Ground-based interceptor missiles: One major component is Ground-Based Midcourse Defence (GMD), consisting of ground-based interceptor missiles and radar in the United States in Alaska, which would intercept incoming warheads in space.
- Aegis Ballistic Missile Defence System: A major component is a ship-based system, the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defence System. This was given major new importance by President Obama in September 2009, when he announced plans to scrap the plans for a missile defence site in Poland, in favor of missile defence systems located on US Navy warships.
- Terminal High-Altitude Area Defence (THAAD): Terminal High-Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) is a program of the US Army, utilizing ground-based interceptor missiles which can intercept missiles in the upper part of the atmosphere.
- Airborne systems: Several airborne systems are being examined, which would then be utilized by the US Air Force. One major object of study is a boost-phase defence, meaning a system to intercept missiles while they are in their boost phase. One potential system for this use might be an airborne laser, being tested on the Boeing YAL-1.
- Shorter-range anti-ballistic missiles: Four shorter range tactical anti-ballistic missile systems are operational currently:
- the U.S. Army Patriot,
- U.S. Navy Aegis combat system/Standard SM-3,
- U.S. Navy Aegis combat system/SM-2 missile, and
- the Israeli Arrow missile.
MULTILATERAL AND INTERNATIONAL PARTICIPATION:
Several aspects of the defence program have either sought or achieved participation and assistance from other nations.
- Several foreign navies are participating in the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defence, including Japan and Australia.
- A missile defence site in Poland received much media attention when it was cancelled in favor of the Aegis BMD.
- A radar site in the United Kingdom is being upgraded, and another one is being built in Greenland.
- Other countries have contributed technological developments and various locations.
- Taiwan has indicated that it is willing to host national missile defence radars to be tied into the American system.
ARGUMENTS IN FAVOUR OF NMD:
- The Threat to Americans and American Interests
- The Technology Issue – NMD technology is not intended to deal with “suitcase terrorism”. It is being designed to deal with the threat of a missile attack that the US intelligence community assesses as the threat that is most likely to emerge in future
- The Countermeasures Argument – It has been argued that it is relatively easy for an aggressor state to overcome a US NMD system by saturating it with countermeasures such as decoys and multiple warheads. But from America’s own experience with countermeasures, it appears that effective countermeasure technology is not easy to manufacture, mount and deploy on a missile.
ARGUMENTS AGAINST NMD:
- A Case of Disproportionate Response – If by posing a threat at relatively low cost a ‘aggressor’ country can draw an opponent into acquiring and deploying extra/vebiph-cost countermeasures, it has succeeded in evoking a disproportionate response far more burdensome to the opponent than posing the threat was to the ‘aggressor’ in the first place. The US perceives the ballistic missile threat as coming from North Korea, Iran and Iraq, in that order of probability. Yet a closer scrutiny of American threat analyses suggests not only that these threats are presently unreal (something the US freely states) but that there is no guarantee at all that any of them will ever materialise (something it would vigorously dispute.
- Moving The Goalposts – that is arrival at a higher ballistic missile threat to the US by ‘moving the goalposts’-i.e. by making the definition of what constitutes a threat easier to meet. Thus it substituted what was possible in the way of future developments for what was probable, the earlier standard.
- Neglecting Deterrence – almost complete absence of discussion on the value of traditional military deterrence in protecting the country from ballistic missile attack.
WHY IN NEWS: This year’s NATO Summit in Chicago, inter alia, took the important decision of going ahead with the deployment of the US ballistic missile defence system in Central Europe.
NARAIN (SOUTH KOREAN PLANE)
INTRODUCTION: It is the nickname for the first Korea-made small passenger plane. Naraon is ‘nara’ plus on.’ Nara is a slight spell change of ‘nar-a’ which means to fly and ‘on’ is 100. The newly coined term means to soar up in perfect fashion. The four-seat single-engine plane was made through 90% of purely domestic technology. Its takeoff weight is 1,633 kg, maximum speed 389 km per hour and maximum range is 1,850 km. It can fly to anywhere in Japan, key Chinese cities and some parts of Southeast Asia. It can fly as high as 76,000 m. The analogue gauge gave way to the latest electronic fighting equipment and a single lever output adjustment system to boost convenience for the pilot. Most of the plane body was made with a carbon composite new material to make it lighter. A cutting-edge electronic device has been applied to the engine’s power output adjustment which will save fuel efficiency by 10% compared to planes of the same class.
PRIVATE AIRCRAFT: As of 2010, Korea was 15th in the world in air passenger transport, 3rd in cargo transport and number one in national aviation safety rankings. But its private aircraft manufacturing sector has yet to match the nation’s status in air traffic demand. In military planes, Korea has even developed a supersonic jet which is eyeing exports. But as for private planes, ranging from small leisure planes to large aircrafts, Korea is fully relying on imports. This is why the Transport Ministry has launched a research and development project to modernize the aviation sector. The Naraon is the first fruit of this joint project that began in 2008 involving the industry, academics and think tanks including the KAI, the Korea Aerospace Research Institute and the AeroSpace Technology of Korea Inc. (ASTK). With the successful first flight of the Naraon prototype, South Korea has become the 28th in the world to develop a private sector aircraft.
DEVELOPMENT OF NARAON, FUTURE TIMETABLE: The KAI and others plan to complete the development of Naraon by 2013 at the cost of 77.4 billion Won. The ministry even expects to export the plane after an air safety agreement is signed with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration hopefully by 2013. The sale price is expected at 600 million Won per unit. When Naraon becomes commercialized, it can be used for various purposes including as a personal jet and for pilot training, transport, fire prevention monitoring, patrol, leisure and other areas. A rocket launch vehicle is being developed in the aerospace sector while a supersonic jet has been developed for the military. Now having manufactured a private aircraft, Korea is well on its way to becoming an aerospace powerhouse. Transport Minister Kwon Do-you has vowed to pursue advancement of the sector to place Korea within the global top ten in aviation technology.
RED FLAG EXERCISE
Red Flag is the Air Force’s premier air-to-air combat training exercise. Participants often include both US and allied nations’ combat air forces. The exercise gives pilots the experience of multiple, intensive air combat sorties in the safety of a training environment.
IN NEWS: The Indian Air Force (IAF) is to take part in the US Air Force-hosted ‘Red Flag’ combat aviation exercise in the US in 2013, in which it had last participated in 2008. The IAF had participated in the prestigious Red Flag exercise held at Nellis air force base in Nevada, US, in 2008. The Red Flag exercise is considered the pinnacle of combat aviation war gaming for its sheer quality that tests both the machine and the man behind the machine.
US POLICY: “Cooperative engagement” is the USCINCPAC strategy designed to deter aggression, promote peace, encourage prosperity and democratic ideals, and – if necessary- allow the US to fight and win if a conflict cannot be avoided. Specifically, the strategy is a process of aggressively employing the means available to USPACOM (forces, assets, funds, and programs) in three principal ways:
- forward presence,
- strong alliances and friendships, and
- a visible demonstrated capacity for crisis response.
The goal is to achieve engagement and participation in peace, deterrence and cooperation in crisis, and a swift and decisive victory in conflict, through multilateral alliances if possible.
SECURITY ALLIANCE: Thailand is one of five countries in the Pacific region with which the US has a functioning security alliance. The other four countries are Japan, the Republic of Korea, Australia, and the Republic of the Philippines. Thailand and the US have an extensive bilateral military exercise program.
COBRA GOLD EXERCISE: Cobra Gold is a regularly-scheduled joint/combined exercise and is the latest in the continuing series of U.S. – Thai military exercises designed to ensure regional peace and strengthen the ability of the Royal Thai Armed Forces to defend Thailand or respond to regional contingencies. Cobra Gold is one of several training exercises the US conducts with Thailand each year. The US funds Thai military and civilian professional development training under the international military education and training program (IMET). Thailand is a generous host to US Navy ships that make frequent port calls at Pattaya and Phuket.
- Cobra Gold is a six-week exercise during April and May, the hottest time of the year in Thailand where daytime temperatures linger between 103 and 107 degrees Fahrenheit.
- The exercise is an annual multinational combined joint training exercise held throughout the Kingdom of Thailand.
- It is the United States’ largest multilateral exercise in the Asia-Pacific region and offers more than 20 participating countries critical training opportunities to improve interoperability in conducting multinational operations.
- In its 31″ iteration, Exercise Cobra Gold demonstrates multinational commitment to allied forces in the Asia-Pacific region and focuses on regional partnership, prosperity and security commitments in the region.
Events during Cobra Gold include
- a computer-simulated command-post exercise,
- field training operations and
- humanitarian and civic-assistance projects that increase the standard of living for the Thai people in surrounding communities.
- Additionally, senior leaders will meet to share knowledge with one another and build relationships.
Participating nations in Cobra Gold 12 include: the U.S., Kingdom of Thailand, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and the Republic of Korea.