Monday, March 16, 2009

The primary purpose of the European Missile Shield is to defend the US

The location of the Missile Shield base in Poland has mystified me. It is not optimized to defend Europe, though it appears capable doing so for the northern tier of countries. To defend Western Europe it should be more centrally located, near of all places, the European Mid Course Radar site in the Czech Republic. The other mystery is why did we derate the European based missile to two stages from the three being used at Fort Greely Alaska? Surely there is no significant cost savings. And what there might be would be eaten up by additional testing for a different system. A look at the flight path of a missile launched from the Iranian missile test center near Semnan toward Washington DC (white line on map) shows the reason why the location in Poland was selected. The primary purpose of the European system is to defend the US. But it also points out the touchy situation it has caused with the Russians. The line of flight of a threatening Iranian missile is very close to the course of a missile also aimed at Washington from the westernmost Russian ICBM fields at Kosel’sk (pink line) and Tatishchev. Here’s where there is a very delicate balancing act. How do we defend against Iran without threatening Russian capabilities? If we were to move our Mid Course interceptors downrange from Poland, say to Norway, UK or Iceland, we most assuredly would be able to intercept Russian missiles from their sites west of the Urals which is not our intention. To move them uprange to Ukraine would solve that problem, but cause different but serious political problems with the Russians. Just a guess, but I believe the derating of the European interceptor missiles was to reduce the range and capability against Russia’s missiles to convince them of our good intentions. They should know it anyway. Their engineers can do the calculations. But that probably won’t change any minds in the Kremlin. In many ways the Russians have brought this problem on themselves. They have played footsie with the Iranians, selling them a reactor and fuel that will eventually yield plutonium for weapons. Their efforts to destabilize the Mid East to undercut American interests, is at the heart of the problem. Putin and Medvedev are playing victim when they are the instigators. They are playing with dynamite. Iran is run by religious fanatics. The Russians have Islamic problems of their own in Chechnya. The whole nuclear mess could come back and bite them. At some point we must operate in our own best interests.

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