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ABM Defense System – “Pacific” Dimension

18.07.2008 14:53

S. Smirnov

It looks like that in the last two years there is no more popular and disputed topic than the US plans to construct a new component of the National ABM Defense System. However, due to a number of reasons practically in all cases the studies and criticism are focused on two facilities of the regional ABM system in Eastern Europe, viz. an over-the-horizon radar in Czechia and GBI silos in Poland. Speaking figuratively, these plans are not even a tip of the iceberg but just a fracture in an ice shelf, in which glacialists put their "clever" instruments to make forecasts ever after this part of ice detaches and floats. It is well-known that the Titanic passenger liner was killed by an iceberg underwater part.

The ABM Defense problem has its own "underwater" part: it is an actually deployed and functioning ABM Defense system in the Pacific. It includes:

- Two operating GBI silo bases in Alaska and California. The GBIs on duty there are capable of intercepting the targets in the outer space at a distance of several thousand kilometers. The silos in Poland will accommodate interceptors of a shortcut version without one booster that radically reduces the range. .

- The largest worldwide Pacific Missile Range Facility used to test all available ABM systems and prototypes. From 1998, the Kwajalein Atoll of this Range Facility is used as a homesite for a currently operating ground-based over-the-horizon ABM X-band radar (GBR-P). But probably since it already has fulfilled its task, this second-hand radar is to be relocated and installed in Czechia either due to its irrelevance in-situ or due to the stinginess inherent to Americans.

- A mobile over-the-horizon sea-based X-band radar (SBX). It is mounted on a semi-submerged self-propelled floating platform (by the way, built in Vyborg by Russian ship-builders). This radar may freely move to any point of the Pacific. According to the US ABM Program director it may track, discriminate, and assess a target of an apple size at a distance of 5000 km.

- Forward-based ABM radars-transportable (FBX-T) to be deployed in Japan. The first such ground-based radar is already on duty in Aomori Prefecture, northern part of the Island of Honsu. The second one will be deployed in the southern part of Japan in the nearest future. A similar radar may be also deployed in Turkey but meanwhile the public opinion there is surveyed through "information leaks" in mass media.

- Cruisers of the 7th Fleet with the Aegis System and Standard Missile Interceptors deployed permanently on duty in the southern part of the Sea of Japan, and ready to intercept the North Korean ballistic missiles. On February 21, 2008 one of these ships fired an interceptor from the area of the Hawaiian Islands to successfully kill a malfunctioning American satellite. By the way, that time target designation signals were transmitted to the cruiser from the sea-based radar (SBX).

In terms of the ABM system concentration level there is nothing similar in any part of the globe including the NATO area of responsibility. All these sophisticated Hi-Tech facilities are located in the vicinity of the Far-Eastern borders of Russia and pose an actual threat to our strategic deterrence forces.

The USA justifies the deployment of the ABM systems both in the Pacific and in Europe with a need to cope with a missile threat posed by "evil axis" countries" North Korea and Iran. But the strained nature (if not to say more) of this argument is clear not only to experts. The probability of MRBM (medium-range ballistic missile) development in these and other "threshold" countries within the nearest 5-10 years is close to zero.

So, what is a reasoning of such aggressive American efforts to deploy the regional ABM component? It seems there is only one reason - the United States once again is striving to solve their own problems at the expense of other countries. In this particular case they solve the problem of North-American ABM defense provision by deploying forward-based detection and interception systems. By the way, it is impossible to solve this problem in other way at the modern level of technological development. But now we are speaking about political rather than engineering technologies.

In Japan the environment for the United States was more comfortable. Using the Japanese paranoic fear of a so-called North-Korean nuclear-missile threat, the USA relatively easy and without extra noise lobbied for a decision of ABM radar deployment and involvement of Japanese warships in the ABM patrols together with the American ships. In Europe the task was much more complicated. And Washington is solving it again by using the accustomed "axe" technologies. Playing on the greediness of "young" NATO members the USA presented NATO with a fact the ABM systems will be deployed in Europe in any case, the question is: will they "defend" Americans only or Europeans too? And in Bucharest the "old" NATO members surrendered again to the American pressing.

One more conceptual remark. The United States at least plays cunning when it tries to convince Europeans and Russia that the over-the-horizon X-band radar is fully controllable and poses no threat to Russia. Look at the radar pictures. The radar is mounted inside a radome. Inside the radome the antenna may be turned within seconds to any direction, and an inspection will not be able to establish reliably what area the radar axis is "looking at" at this very moment . The radar emission power is very high, more than 1 MW in case of SBX. The radar beam is very narrow and may be instantly focused on fast-moving objects. So, if desired, it may easily fire all electronics of airplanes flying at a distance of several hundred kilometers from the radar and kill the plane even more efficiently than a surface-to-air missile.

However, it is already beyond the framework of the ABM "Pacific" dimension.