The US MDA successfully intercepted a fake nuke over Hawaii

Cal Jeffrey

TS Evangelist
Staff member

The event took place on October 26, 2018. After the test warhead was fired, the USS John Finn launched a Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IIA from the west coast of Hawaii. The rocket hit the target while it was still in space.

Live Science notes, the SM-3 is not an explosive rocket. Instead, it destroys incoming missiles through "sheer force."

“The interceptor’s ‘kill vehicle’ (a projectile) rams into a ballistic missile with the force of a 10-ton truck traveling at 600mph,” said a spokesperson from Raytheon, the SM-3's manufacturer.

While the SM-3 Block IIA was fired from a ship during this test, the system is portable and can be launched from both land and sea. It was designed to intercept short and medium-range ballistic missiles before they have a chance to reenter the atmosphere.

As previously noted, its success rate of .500 is not that impressive considering the amount of damage a single nuclear warhead could inflict. The first botched attempt in June of 2017 was due to a sailor accidentally triggering the interceptor's self-destruct. In the second failure, which happened back in January, the SM-3 simply missed its target.

Shooting down a missile is no easy feat. It quite literally is rocket science.

“The missile itself moves at blistering speeds and is relatively tiny in the vastness of space,” said Live Science. “The SM-3 must move even faster, and travel at a near-perfect trajectory, to smash into its target. It's often compared to shooting a bullet with a bullet.”

Despite the 50-50 record, those involved with the joint missile defense program view all tests, successful or failed, optimistically. After the failure earlier this year, Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, Director of the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency (MDA) told Defense News that even failures can be used as a learning experience.

“If North Korea is learning as much as I’m learning from these failures, we all ought to be concerned,” said Gen. Greaves. “We’ve got to figure out what happened and go fix it.”

Eventually, the Pentagon would like to station SM-3’s in Poland, Romania, and Japan. According to a report from the US Government Accountability Office (GAO), each installation would cost approximately $39 million. However, more testing of the system is still needed before a full deployment can be considered.

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drjekelmrhyde

TS Evangelist
Russia and China have MIRVs that will defeat this. A laser based kill system can be defeated just by spinning the farking missile. The US, China, and Russia could kill the entire planet by detonating 400 20 megaton nukes on themselves.
 
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Reehahs

TS Guru
Can't they just use Israel's iron dome? It has proven track record to shoot down unpredictable projectiles.
 

GeforcerFX

TS Evangelist
Can't they just use Israel's iron dome? It has proven track record to shoot down unpredictable projectiles.
Actually Rafaele is looking to Raytheon for help atm. Iron dome in it's current iteration is designed for destruction of short ranged ballistic and cruise missiles as well as motars. The SM-3 is used for mid course interception of short, medium and intermediate ranged ballistic missiles, the SM-2 and SM-6 are used for terminal defense.

You might want to remove the .500 testing claim(or specify that it's to a specific block variant), the SM-3 has been test fired close to 30 times and has hit 26 from what I can find, 5 of them were splitting targets (MIRV dummy).
 

mbrowne5061

TS Evangelist
Russia and China have MIRVs that will defeat this. A laser based kill system can be defeated just by spinning the farking missile. The US, China, and Russia could kill the entire planet by detonating 400 20 megaton nukes on themselves.
The "M" in "MIRV" stands for "multiple", not "maneuverable". They still fly on a ballistic trajectory, and so their flights are predictable. The only limitation to shooting them down are the speed and the number of available interceptors along the warhead's flight path.

The stability of a warhead in flight is tied to its spin, much like a bullet. Unlike a bullet, their internal structure is not uniform across the two normal axis to its flight trajectory, so spin isn't just something to you change to whatever you feel like (not if you want it to stay stable and on target). Even if affecting the spin wasn't an issue, it wouldn't help. Increasing spin reduces time to cool before the same spot is exposed to the laser radiation again. Decreasing spin just increases exposure time before it gets to cool. Energy inputted into a warhead via lasers is fairly static, regardless of spin speed. Laser weapons remain effective because of this. Never mind that they have other issue, like size and power requirements that make them impractical for missile defense at the moment.

It would take fewer nukes than that going off in the same day to cause a mass extinction (that would likely take human with it). It is unlikely that every nuke going off all at once would kill everything on this planet, life at the bottom of the ocean trenches would likely survive, as well as life in caves. Any life cycle that wasn't dependent on the sun likely survive, and other life that could handle the radiation and reduced sun (fungi, being an obvious one) would also survive. Nuclear war won't kill the planet, just us.