Thursday, October 04, 2007

Yet Another Thing Reagan Got Right........

'Star Wars' Indeed

Security: Perhaps you haven't heard, since the media would rather ignore the success of what they've derided since Ronald Reagan floated the idea 24 years ago, but America now has a working missile defense system.

The news was not entirely ignored. The New York Times/International Herald Tribune covered it. But it has gone largely unreported elsewhere.

When a senior military officer says that a key defense system is operative, newspapers should splash that on their front pages and television and radio should begin their broadcasts with the news.

It's as if the media don't believe the U.S. is worth protecting.

But some Americans do, and last week they held another successful test. On Friday, the kill vehicle from an interceptor launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California hit a target dummy warhead launched in Alaska that had been tracked by radar at Beale Air Force Base, outside of Sacramento, Calif., as well as sea-based X-band radar and an Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense ship. Multiple tracking is an important factor in neutralizing decoys.

The outcome was enough for Gen. Victor E. Renuart Jr., commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command U.S. Northern Command, to declare that the system is ready to be used at any time. With interceptor bases in Vandenberg or Ft. Greely, Alaska, the U.S. has formed a virtual shield that can protect the country from a limited missile attack launched from Asia.

"I'm fully confident that we have all of the pieces in place that, if the nation needed to, we could respond," the Air Force general said.

The media's weak coverage of this milestone should have been expected. They have long been an ally of the politically driven missile defense opponents who said the system was the foolish dream of a doddering old man. It will never work, they piously claimed. Can't hit a bullet with a bullet.

Yet the bullet has hit another bullet — six times out of the past nine tests since 2001. Air Force Lt. Gen. Henry A. Obering III, director of the Missile Defense Agency, has noted the system has not had a major problem in more than two years.

"I think this goes a long way to answering" the skeptics' questions, Oberling said.

The system is, of course, limited. But its development will advance — unless it's derailed by senseless politics — as all technologies advance. Already it is able to sift through other objects in the sky, select its intended target and then destroy it.

The system's next test is scheduled for some time in the first half of 2008. From that test, its ability to deal with airborne decoys will be assessed. Further tests, and the inevitable improvements, such as multiple kill vehicles deployed from a single interceptor, will continue as long as there is a will to complete the job.

While the political left here and abroad continues to be skeptical, sober leaders in Japan, Poland and the Czech Republic have expressed interest in a system that Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy once derided as "Star Wars." At the same time, Russia has threatened to aim missiles at Europe if parts of the missile defense system are deployed on European soil.

Why so much fuss, we wonder, over a fanciful dream that can never be achieved?

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