SDI – A welcome new friend in the GWOT and protecting America
The common wisdom is SDI doesn’t work and will not work. Especially against the Katyusha rockets that Hezbollah has launched (at will) recently that have caused so much damage in northern Israel. As with most commonly held beliefs of late, this is wrong too.
The U.S. has been shooting down Katyusha rockets at the White Sands proving ground in New Mexico since 1998 using a high-energy laser weapon that would explode their warheads in flight, a weapon initially developed as part of President Reagan's visionary Strategic Defensive Initiative.
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In August, the Army selected Northrop Grumman to design a mobile version of our Tactical High Energy Laser, which we developed together with the Israelis. In recent tests at White Sands, the THEL, as it's known for short, shot down 28 Katyusha rockets fired individually and in salvos and five artillery shells in mid-flight. Imagine the ability to destroy incoming artillery shells at the speed of light.
When Reagan conceived SDI to defend us against a ballistic missile attack it was envisioned as a space-based high-energy laser that would target the enemy warhead after it had launched. This was “shot down” so to speak, due to objections about the militarization of space, effectiveness and financing just to name a few.
Soon after the developing the prototypes for testing they realized this technology had a tactical land-based application as well. Thus the Theatre High Energy Laser system was born.
The ABL weapon system consists of a high-energy, chemical oxygen iodine laser (COIL) mounted on a modified 747-400F (freighter) aircraft to shoot down theater ballistic missiles in their boost phase. A crew of four, including pilot and copilot, would be required to operate the airborne laser, which would patrol in pairs at high altitude, about 40,000 feet, flying in orbits over friendly territory, scanning the horizon for the plumes of rising missiles. Capable of autonomous operation, the ABL would acquire and track missiles in the boost phase of flight, illuminating the missile with a tracking laser beam while computers measure the distance and calculate its course and direction. After acquiring and locking onto the target, a second laser - with weapons-class strength - would fire a three- to five-second burst from a turret located in the 747's nose, destroying the missiles over the launch.
Such a ground-based, rapid-fire laser, operating like a high-tech machine gun, sprays the target sky with enough high-energy pulses that a Katyusha barrage could be stopped in its tracks. The poor man's ballistic missile would be made ineffective, if not obsolete.
This effective laser technology could have been shipped to Israel as early as 1999 but "cost effectiveness." killed such plans as it would still cost more to shoot Katyushas out of the sky than it costs the enemy to make them.
Cost effectiveness? The costs imposed by Hezbollah's Katyushas in land devastation in Lebanon and Israel along with hundreds of civilian deaths and northern Israel uninhabitable, I think the choice is clear!
Consider also that a single nuclear warhead detonated high above the U.S from a Shahab (sp?) or a Nodong launched from international waters off our coast would create an EMP so large that it would fry most electronic circuits in the U.S.!
Developing and deploying this SDI technology should be top priority. Not only for our protection, but for no other reason than to totally "Tick-Off" our enemies!