Image: US Navy
An Aegis SM-3
launch from the US Navy guided-missile cruiser USS Shiloh
Japan Readies Missile Defense System
By Blaine Harden
Washington Post, March 27, 2009
Edited by Andy Ross
Japan ordered its military on Friday to destroy a North Korean missile or
its debris, if the launch fails and falling pieces of the rocket seem to
imperil Japanese territory. Japan ordered two destroyers equipped with Aegis
anti-missile systems into the Sea of Japan, and said it would soon move
Patriot land-to-air missiles to the country's northern coast.
explained that it was preparing for a possible accident, not for an attack.
North Korea has notified groups around the world of its plans and has
released details of its expected flight trajectory. Japanese officials said
Friday that the likelihood of rocket debris falling on Japan is remote and
urged people to remain calm.
North Korean missile tests in 2006
alarmed Japan, which has invested heavily in American-made ballistic-missile
defense systems. North Korea has 200 Nodong medium-range missiles that could
hit anywhere in Japan, according to the Japanese Defense Ministry.
Japan Preps for North Korea Missile
By Nathan Hodge
Wired, March 27, 2009
Edited by Andy Ross
As North Korea stacks a long-range missile on the launch pad, Japan is
sending out two warships equipped with the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense
(BMD) system. The US Navy has 18 ships equipped with Aegis BMD and Japan
currently has two.
By the Missile Defense Agency's count, the
operationally configured Aegis SM-3 interceptor has scored 7 hits in 9
intercept tests. In 2008 an SM-3 successfully shot down an errant US spy
The Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (ABMD) system uses the
Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) manufactured by Raytheon. This is how it works.
As the ship's radar acquires and tracks a ballistic missile threat,
the ABMD system begins calculating the engagement solution. Upon command
from the ship's weapon system, the SM-3 boosts out of the launcher and
establishes radio communication with the ship.
After MK 72 booster
burnout, the MK 104 Dual Thrust Rocket Motor (DTRM) ignites. In-flight
communications from the ship guide the missile toward the predicted
After MK 104 burnout and separation, the MK 136
Third Stage Rocket Motor (TSRM) ignites, propelling the third stage out of
the atmosphere. Throughout its flight, the missile continues to receive
in-flight target updates from the ship to refine the intercept guidance
solution. The TSRM contains two separate pulses that can be initiated to
optimize the engagement timeline. During flyout, the third stage pitches
over and ejects the nosecone, exposing the SM-3 Kinetic Warhead (KW).
After MK 136 burnout roughly 30 seconds before intercept, the SM-3 KW
separates from the third stage and immediately searches for the target based
on pointing data received from the ship. The KW acquires the ballistic
missile warhead with its long-wavelength imaging infrared seeker. The KW's
Solid Divert and Attitude Control System maneuvers the KW to enable a
As the KW closes on the target, it shifts its
guidance aimpoint to ensure a lethal hit and destroys the target with more
than 130 megajoules of kinetic energy.
Patriot Advanced Capability 3 missile launch from a US Army semi-trailer
MIM-104 Patriot Missile System
The Patriot missile system was originally designed to counter the
air-breathing threat of the 1990s and beyond. The key features of the
Patriot system are the multifunctional phased-array radar, track-via-missile
guidance, and extensive modern software and automated operations, with the
capability for human override. Patriot is the most advanced
medium/long-range surface-to-air missile in the operational US Army
The MIM-104 Patriot missile is launched from
canisters, four of which make up the M901 launching station transported on
an M860 semi-trailer. The missile is inertially guided with command updates,
using TVM for high terminal accuracy. At the interception point, the
missile's warhead is detonated by a radar-proximity fuze.
MIM-104A was powered by a single Thiokol TX-486-1 solid-fueled rocket motor,
and armed with a high-explosive blast-fragmentation warhead. The MIM-104B
featured modified guidance and navigation hardware and added a
surface-to-surface capability against ground-based radar jamming sources.
The most important changes to the system were made by the Patriot
Advanced Capability (PAC) program. The PAC-1 modification was first fielded
in July 1988. The PAC-2 upgrade included software changes and an improved
MIM-104C missile. During Operation Desert Storm in 1991, PAC-1 and PAC-2
systems were used against Iraqi "Al-Hussein" (modified SS-1 Scud) SRBMs.
The MIM-104D, also known as PAC-2/GEM (Guidance Enhanced Missile),
featured a low-noise front end to increase seeker sensitivity and a
modernized fuzing system to improve performance against ballistic missile
targets. The MIM-104E was first delivered in 2002 and upgraded PAC-2 rounds
by replacing the missile forebody.
The PAC-3 system incorporated many
changes to the ground equipment and the missile, and was fielded in three
incremental steps. Configuration 1 incorporated changes to the ECS, a new
pulse-doppler radar processor, and the MIM-104D missile. Configuration 2
included Link 16 JTIDS (Joint Tactical Information Distribution System)
compatibility and radar improvements. Configuration 3 included upgrades to
the radar to increase detection in high-clutter environments and to improve
discrimination of closely spaced objects.
The most important feature
of the latest Patriot system is a completely new missile, a variant of the
Lockheed Martin ERINT (Extended Range Interceptor).
More than 12,000
Patriot missiles have been built so far.
Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems (IDS) is the prime contractor for
Patriot and is the Mission Systems Integrator (MSI) for the PAC-3 system.
MIT Technology Review, November 2012
Edited by Andy Ross
Iron Dome worked very well, better than expected. The system was designed to
defend relatively small populated areas against quite primitive short-range
rockets that travel 15 to 25 kilometers.
The speed of the Hamas
rockets is in the range of 500 meters per second. Scuds that can travel 600
kilometers are traveling at 2,200 meters per second. An ICBM is traveling at
7,000 meters per second.
Two rockets launched by Hamas had a range
of about 65 kilometers. That gets you to the outskirts of Tel Aviv. I
understand that one of these rockets was shot down. The other one they
didn't try to shoot down because it was going to fall in a place that was
Iron Dome has a short-range radar that measures the
locations of rockets as they are fired and some advanced methods for
estimating their trajectory. They have to be fast, because it could be 90
seconds from launch to impact.
Then they fire an interceptor toward
the rocket. The radar guides the interceptor until it acquires the target
with its infrared sensor. Then the infrared homes in. The interceptor has to
be very rapidly maneuverable. It has to detect wobbles and make final
Iron Dome is optimized to be efficient and not fire at
rockets that pose no threats. But if an interceptor looks like it's going to
miss, the system will launch a second interceptor.
BBC, November 2012
Edited by Andy Ross
Iron Dome has its roots in the 2006 conflict Israel fought with
Hezbollah in southern Lebanon. Hezbollah launched thousands of
rockets, causing huge damage and killing dozens of Israelis.
Rafael Advanced Defense Systems developed a new missile defense
shield that was tested in combat for the first time in April
During the current Gaza crisis, the system has been
highly praised by the Israeli military. By Saturday evening the
shield had intercepted 245 rockets from Gaza in three days, and
about 90% of the attempted interceptions were successful, the
army said. Iron Dome is now deployed over Tel Aviv. The Tel Aviv
battery was called into operation shortly after it was
installed, killing a rocket on its final approach.
Iron Dome is part of a huge infrastructure of missile defense
systems operating over Israel, costing billions of dollars. The
Americans set aside more than $200m to help Israel pay for the
system. It uses radar to track incoming rockets, and then fires
two interceptor missiles to knock them out.
Dome battery costs about $50m to install. There are five
batteries in operation, with eight more planned by
next year. Each interceptor missile costs roughly $60,000. The
makers say it is cost-effective because the radar technology
distinguishes between missiles likely to hit built-up areas and
those missing their target. Only those heading towards cities
are targeted and shot down.
Iron Dome Test Success
CNN, March 27, 2009
Edited by Andy Ross
Israel says it has successfully tested an anti-rocket system developed to
protect the country from short-range rocket and artillery attack from
Lebanon and Gaza.
Rockets of the type fired in recent years at Israel
were launched to test the system. The Iron Dome system responded
"successfully and in accordance with the objectives of the experiment,"
stated the Defense Ministry.
According to the manufacturer, Rafael
Advanced Defense Systems, the system uses an interceptor with a warhead that
detonates any target in the air within seconds.
Iron Dome Helpless Against Qassams
Haaretz, February 22, 2008
Edited by Andy Ross
The Iron Dome defense system, which was approved in 2007 and was supposed to
protect Israel's citizens against Qassam rockets, is not capable of
alleviating the distress of Sderot inhabitants. Tests found the system to be
effective against rockets fired from more than four kilometers away, but not
against those fired from closer range.
The fact that Iron Dome is not
effective against short-range rockets was long known to the system's
developers and to the Defense Ministry officials who chose to focus on it.
For some reason, they decided not to go public with their information.
Iron Dome is not the solution to the Qassam rockets. The Qassam's speed
in the air is 200 meters per second. The distance from the edge of Beit
Hanun to the outskirts of Sderot is 1800 meters. So a rocket launched from
Beit Hanun takes about nine seconds to hit Sderot. The developers of Iron
Dome at Rafael Advance Defense Systems know that the preparations to launch
the intercept missiles take up to about 15 seconds.
But Iron Dome
will also not be able to cope with rockets that are launched much farther
away. According to data available from Rafael, the average flight time of
the intercept missile to the point of encounter is another 15 seconds. In
other words, to intercept a rocket using Iron Dome requires at least 30
seconds. This is the time it takes a Qassam to cover six kilometers.
An examination of the economic aspect also casts grave doubts on the
decision to choose Iron Dome. The cost of each intercept missile will
probably be about $100,000. In contrast, the cost of making a Qassam rocket
is well under $100,000. So, if the Palestinians produce thousands of
Qassams, the Israel will have to respond with thousands of Iron Dome
missiles, at a prohibitive cost.
The decision was made, seemingly,
via a proper procedure. However, it turns out that the senior staff at the
Defense Ministry strongly rejected the proposal to bring into Israel the
laser-based Nautilus defense system, whose development is nearly complete
and whose effectiveness was proved in a series of tests.
developed in the United States in conjunction with Israel, but the Israeli
defense establishment ended its participation in the project in 2001. The
Americans went on with it, improved the system and changed its name to
Skyguard. Northrop Grumman, the company that is developing the missile,
promises that it can be delivered within 18 months at a relatively low cost.
The Skyguard system itself, devised to protect Kiryat Shmona against
Katyusha rockets, can be installed in Sderot within six months. By
comparison, the development of Iron Dome will take another three years.
The major advantage of Skyguard is its use of a laser beam for
interceptions. The beam travels at the speed of light, allowing the system
to intercept short-range rockets like the ones aimed at Sderot. The cost of
implementing the laser system is also far lower than Iron Dome. The cost of
launching one laser beam is between $1,000 and $2,000.
Ben-Israel (Kadima), a professor and retired major general, who was formerly
head of the Defense Ministry R&D directorate, was an advocate of the
laser-based system. He continues to advocate a laser-based defense, but
believes that the technology in Skyguard is obsolete.
Image: Northrop Grumman Artwork
Grumman Skyguard laser-based air defense system
Northrop Grumman Develops Skyguard
Space War, July 13, 2006
Edited by Andy Ross
Northrop Grumman has developed the Skyguard laser-based air defense system
for US government agencies and allies that require near-term defense against
short-range ballistic missiles, short- and long-range rockets, artillery
shells, mortars, unmanned aerial vehicles, and cruise missiles. Skyguard is
derived from the successful Tactical High Energy Laser (THEL) test bed and
its predecessors developed by Northrop Grumman for the US Army and the
Israel Ministry of Defense.
AR North Korea and the Palestinians
can never win against Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Rafael,
and the rest of the globalized military-industrial complex.