New Missile Defense angle: blow everything out of the sky with nuclear interceptors
April 11, 2002 10:46 AM   Subscribe

New Missile Defense angle: blow everything out of the sky with nuclear interceptors Anybody else impressed by Rumsfeld 's insight?
posted by magullo (39 comments total)
 
We should invest in the Funk Bomb instead. Nothing can withstand the power of funk.
posted by mrmanley at 11:08 AM on April 11, 2002


I'm impressed. I like Rumsfeld. I welcome a strong defense against possible missile threats. Nuclear tipped interceptors not only would blow up incoming missiles, but in the event any were laden with anthrax, the anthrax would also be vaporised. I'm at the point where the more I hear people scream and holler about something our government is doing, there more I'm convinced that what is being done is right.
posted by mikegre at 11:14 AM on April 11, 2002


It's a brilliant plan, really. Now all a terrorist would need would be a conventional missile -- just send it our way, we'll nuke ourselves!
posted by mattpfeff at 11:16 AM on April 11, 2002


or the funky bomb :) scorched earth!
posted by kliuless at 11:20 AM on April 11, 2002


Great, the return of Nike. Good to see the administration is willing to fry every bit of electronics and everything that depends on them (cars, medical equipment, airplanes, banking) to prevent harm.
posted by NortonDC at 11:23 AM on April 11, 2002


I'm at the point where the more I hear people scream and holler about something our government is doing, there more I'm convinced that what is being done is right.


Wow, that's an interesting viewpoint, I wonder how you define "people" in that sentence, as well as "scream and holler". Seems to me that you might have a hard time figuring out what is "right" in a raucous crowd.
posted by jeremias at 11:27 AM on April 11, 2002


Just to get way off-topic...

kliuless: great game! Used to play it in my architectural design class instead of working as a frosh in high school.

Now to get back on-topic:

Obviously, when anyone mentions the word nuclear, a red flag goes up. Let's just try to determine all the facts of this proposal before trying to shoot it down. Remember, they are just in the "idea" stage...they need to go over every possiblilty, so I'd listen at least before I start giving my opinions.
posted by JaxJaggywires at 11:29 AM on April 11, 2002


yeah, these two MIT rocket scientists agree :)
There's a simple way to increase the effectiveness of the Clinton proposal: Replace hit-to-kill with nuclear interceptors. This would eliminate the need to hit enemy missiles dead-on; a nuclear explosion would knock out anything in the vicinity, decoys and warheads alike. However, recent experience has shown that a nuclear-armed interceptor is not politically viable.
and one is a known critic of NMD!
posted by kliuless at 11:31 AM on April 11, 2002


Oh yeah baby, yeah! It's the mad Rumsfeld what bombs at midnight. Radiation falling from the skies! Yum...yeah, sign me up for more!

What? We could all die? We could destroy all the electrical systems in the world? Knock out communications? Ground all the planes which depend on electrical guidance systems? Guarantee generations of flipper babies? Well, that's a small price to pay for wiping out "terrorism", no?

Remember, if we don't kill ourselves and destroy the planet, the terrorists have already won.

Sheesh.
posted by dejah420 at 11:32 AM on April 11, 2002


What an anti-nuke system that might actualy work!? This must be stopped.

And regarding EMPs... Its likely that they'll use small nukes that wouldn't produce overly large EMPs.
posted by delmoi at 11:53 AM on April 11, 2002


"Mein F├╝hrer! I can walk!"

(Why is it that it only appears to be Americans who come up with 'what about nuking...' arguments with utter seriousness?)
posted by riviera at 12:07 PM on April 11, 2002


Regardless of the size even the smallest nuclear weapon will cause some fallout. In terms of fighting fire with fire this almost sounds like a good idea. If the US knew that a nuclear warhead was on its way this would be a less of two evils victory. Considering, as far as I know, there is no way to tell what the payload is in flight then the nuclear option can be easily exploited by decoys or conventional warheads.

How many blasts can the continental US handle before its cancered itselfed to death? What's the expected human error for this? For instance, there have been many times where NORAD sat around scratching their heads and making phone calls to decide whether that radar anomoly is some kind of weapon or the japanese (or whoever)launching a satellite into space.

An interesting question is if a missile is tracked and destroyed does that mean the country that the missile was launched from instantly gets wiped from the planet in a retaliatory strike? For all the US knows there are twenty more on the way. I think this system is prime for exploiting to meet certain catastrophic ends.
posted by skallas at 12:13 PM on April 11, 2002


skallas:

You are aware that most "fallout" is caused by matter other than the bomb material itself, right? That's why ground-bursts are "dirtier" than airbursts -- the dirt and other ejecta are irradiated and come back down...thus the name "fallout". Unless you jacket the device in some sort of fragmenting case (like cobalt) to deliberately make it dirty, a nuclear explosion in the air really doesn't throw off much fallout -- the EMP effects are far worse than blast or radiation effects, and even those attenuate dramatically with higher altitude. A modern tactical-size nuclear warhead (say in the range 5-10 KT) is really no dirtier than any other large explosion.
posted by mrmanley at 12:22 PM on April 11, 2002


(Why is it that it only appears to be Americans who come up with 'what about nuking...' arguments with utter seriousness?)

Honestly? Probably because the United States is the only power with sufficient resources to even explore the option....
posted by mattpfeff at 12:30 PM on April 11, 2002


"Why is it that it only appears to be Americans ......"

"Americans" are a conglomeration of peoples from all over the world. We are a nation of immigrants. Speaking for all Americans *ahem*, we have come here because we believe in the American dream. This is what unites us and makes us strong and exceptional.This might be a little bit difficult for you to grasp, but just try to think of us as the cream of the crop of the world....the top 10% if you will. Now, isn't everything much clearer for you now?
posted by mikegre at 12:45 PM on April 11, 2002


(Why is it that it only appears to be Americans who come up with 'what about nuking...' arguments with utter seriousness?)

Because Americans love to blow s**t up!
posted by mrmanley at 12:48 PM on April 11, 2002


Combine mikegre's, manley's, and mattpfeff's arguments and the sentiment behind them, and you've got your answer, Rivera.
posted by cell divide at 12:54 PM on April 11, 2002


just try to think of us as the cream of the crop of the world...

Please, please, please tell me you're just being sarcastic, mikegre. Please.
posted by ook at 1:34 PM on April 11, 2002


Why is it that it only appears to be Americans who come up with 'what about nuking...' arguments with utter seriousness?

I may be high, but I seem to remember having heard this idea years and years ago presented as "the Russian's missile defence plan." The Russian version was supposed to hinge on the fact that due to the prevailing winds, all the fallout from this would hit western Europe anyhow. I can't find any links on it, tho.
posted by hob at 1:46 PM on April 11, 2002


it was in the article :) "Russia, which built a missile defense system around Moscow in the 1960s that survives to this day, relied from the start on nuclear-armed interceptors." all that is old is new again!
posted by kliuless at 1:55 PM on April 11, 2002


The US developed similar systems. Nike. I wasn't kidding. Where do you think the idea for Missile Command comes from?
posted by NortonDC at 2:05 PM on April 11, 2002


it was in the article :)

duh. s'what i get for not reading all the way to the end :)
posted by hob at 2:16 PM on April 11, 2002


Hrm. To those of you complaining about nuclear fallout and the like. Use your god-damn heads. The weapons would only be fired if there was some incomming weapons. So you have the choice of a very small amount of fallout and a small EMP, hundreds of miles from anything and way up in the air. Or a huge nuking of a major city, killing millions.

I mean, christ it's not like firing a small nuke is going to destroy all the electrical systems in the world and ground every plane in the sky. And the alternative would be the deaths of millions of people!

I mean, you may be against NMD, but if your going to build one you might as well build one that could actualy have a chance of working.
posted by delmoi at 2:30 PM on April 11, 2002


I am not impressed by rummies "insight" and I hope this never gets built. NMD is a cancer by itself.
posted by MaddCutty at 2:37 PM on April 11, 2002


the EMP effects are far worse than blast or radiation effects, and even those attenuate dramatically with higher altitude.

From THREAT POSED BY ELECTROMAGNETIC PULSE (EMP) TO U.S. MILITARY SYSTEMS AND CIVIL INFRASTRUCTURE
House of Representatives, Committee on National Security,
Military Research and Development Subcommittee,


Figure 1, which my colleague, Mr. Ron Wiltsie, is illustrating, and which is also on page 2 of your copy, shows the basic phenomenology of an EMP event. The detonation of a nuclear weapon produces high energy gamma radiation that travels radially away from the burst center. When the detonation occurs at high altitudes, greater than about 40 kilometers, the gamma rays directed toward the Earth encounter the atmosphere, where they interact with air molecules to produce positive ions and recoil electrons called Compton electrons, after the man who discovered the effect.

The gamma radiation, interacting with the air molecules, produces charge separation as the Compton recoil electrons are ejected and leave behind the more massive positive ions. The Earth's magnetic field interacts with the Compton recoil electrons and causes charge acceleration, which further radiates electromagnetic energy. EMP is produced by these charge separation and charge acceleration phenomena, which occur in the atmosphere in a layer about 20 kilometers thick and about 30 kilometers above the Earth's surface.

The area of the Earth's surface directly illuminated by EMP is determined entirely by the height of burst. All points on the Earth's surface within the horizon, as seen from the burst point, will experience EMP effects as depicted in figure 2, which is on page 3 of your handout. Note that a burst on the order of 500 kilometers in altitude can cover the entire continental United States.

Mr. WELDON. What strength burst would that be?

Dr. SMITH. It is not terribly burst-strength dependent; almost any burst will produce that kind of radiation. The strength of the field will change at the various radii from the burst point, but it will cover the same area regardless of the strength of the burst.

The amplitude, duration and polarization of the wave depend on the location of the burst, the type of weapon, the yield, and the relative position of the observer. The electric field resulting from a high-altitude nuclear detonation can be on the order of 50 kilovolts per meter with a rise time on the order of 10 nanoseconds and a decay time to half maximum of about 200 nanoseconds. It is very fast.


Attenuate dramatically at higher altitudes... small EMP...

Oh, and you all know that for a fact?

--if there's one thing more irritating than a virtual chickenhawk armchair general, it's one talking out his ass...
posted by y2karl at 2:47 PM on April 11, 2002


"just try to think of us as the cream of the crop of the world..."

Please, please, please tell me you're just being sarcastic, mikegre. Please.

Ook...Come to New York and take a walk down Fifth Avenue and look at the faces of the people you see. These are faces of people from all over the world who are not afraid. Not afraid to leave their countries, not afraid to be entrepreneurs, not afraid to turn their backs on social welfare states and not afraid to stand on their own two feet. Sure we're hated. We're everything they're not and by being who we are, we expose their cravenness.
posted by mikegre at 2:50 PM on April 11, 2002




::sigh:: Mikegre, you're confusing patriotism with xenophobia.
posted by ook at 3:13 PM on April 11, 2002


*shrug* ook...You just don't get it.....and never will.
posted by mikegre at 3:38 PM on April 11, 2002


This is from a 1987 Paper:

Exoatmospheric bursts (above about 70 miles) generate the condition usually known as high altitude EMP or HEMP.

HEMP is the dominant concern in most hardness design issues.

This proves that rummie is really woried about stoners.
posted by MaddCutty at 3:52 PM on April 11, 2002


Mikegre, please don't speak for other New Yorkers. We do fine without your flag-waving, top-ten-percent bullshit, thanks. This New Yorker doesn't much like your idea of putting radioactive metals in flight to intercept other radioactive metals already in the air. It's just not, um, safe, clean, fail-proof, fool-proof or sane. You stop missiles by making sure they never get launched in the first place, not by provoking the rest of the world a day at a time closer to an American-sponsored Armageddon.

And who are you kidding about New Yorkers and a social welfare state? I'm not saying I'm against it, but you need to check your numbers, buddy: This city takes its share of welfare and other government money.
posted by Mo Nickels at 4:07 PM on April 11, 2002


You stop missiles by making sure they never get launched in the first place

Sure Mo. All you have to do is appease them a la Chamberlain.

And Mo...one more thing. Your fear is showing. Buck up, kid, and take a more positive outlook. You'll also find that as your income increases, so will your love of America.
posted by mikegre at 4:27 PM on April 11, 2002


My fear? Man, you're way off base. I've wrestled full-grown sows who were trying to eat their brood. I've white-water rafted in the Amazon basin. I've walked in pitch-black tunnels 200 meters beneath Paris. I've ridden on the edge of the Andes mountains in the dead of night in buses without headlights and at the mercy of manic Colombian bus drivers. Hell, I've walked in Central Park after midnight and through the South Bronx at noon. And yet, the only thing I'm afraid of is my father who, while over 60, can still kick my ass and is twice the man I'll ever be: and, apparently, more of a man than you've ever known. Or else you'd understand what an intelligent adult response to threat is properly made of.

So you can take your snarky Chamberlain reference and your plutonium-enriched shoot-em-up fantasy and know that just as soon as your kind begin dropping atomic bombs on all the dark people, and showering radioactive debris and fallout across North America, although I'd rather not have to, I'll be trekking half way across the country to live by my wits without competing with eight million others for scarce resources. You'll still be in the basement wondering what you will do when your food runs out after the fourth day.

Afraid? No. Just not all that interested in paying for an idiot cowboy's mistakes.
posted by Mo Nickels at 5:33 PM on April 11, 2002


Ouch. Owned.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:22 PM on April 11, 2002


OK OK OK. "Nuclear" is a bad way to put it. We've been using deplete uranium in projectiles for a while. Yes, it did cause some problems in desert storm b/c our troops weren't versed in treating the flattened iranian tanks with care.

Half of the our m1 tanks that were destroyed by friendly fire had to be left a burried in the desert b/c of the radio activity.

Using the depleted uranium allows for lighter projectiles that don't have to have explosives in them. With the speed the kenetic energy DESTROYED iran's tanks. The depleted uranium vaporized the interior of the tanks and cause quite an explosion. The a10 jets use depleted uranium in it's machine gun.

In anycase, 'nuclear' tipped missles are pretty dang affective. Read about it here.
posted by tomplus2 at 6:57 PM on April 11, 2002


This is something different, tomplus2. They're talking about using nuclear detonations to expand the intercept range, reducing the need for targeting accuracy. Sort of a Missile Command instead of Space Invaders approach.
posted by nikzhowz at 9:05 PM on April 11, 2002


try to think of us as the cream

It's not just cream that floats to the top.

;)
posted by inpHilltr8r at 9:51 PM on April 11, 2002


Sort of a Missile Command instead of Space Invaders approach

Note that the final outcome of both games is inevitable.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 9:55 PM on April 11, 2002


Mo Nickels said: Afraid? No. Just not all that interested in paying for an idiot cowboy's mistakes.

What he said. :)
posted by dejah420 at 11:09 PM on April 11, 2002


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