US Spends Billions on Useless Missile Defense Systems

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( — April 6, 2015)  — Leaders of the US Missile Defense Agency told Congress they would build the most powerful radar in the world. The new radar is supposed to be so powerful it could detect a baseball over San Francisco from the other side of the country, according to LA Times reports.

For example, if North Korea launches missiles towards US, the Sea-Based X-Band Radar — SBX for short — would spot the incoming threats, track them through space and guide US rocket-interceptors to destroy them. Congress loved the idea and approved funds for MDA projects.

The Agency spent $2.2 billion to make the first SBX radar which  was supposed to be operational by 2005. Instead, the prototype spends most of the year mothballed at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, the  Los Angeles Times reported.

According to LA Times, the project, that was supposed to be so advanced that it could tell the difference between the real threat and a decoy, has turned into a massive failure.

Reportedly, the problem with the SBX was its narrow field of vision, which is 25 degrees compared to 90 and 120 degrees of conventional radars. It can ‘zoom’ long distances, however, it cannot be relied upon to track a number of incoming missiles at the same time, LA Times reported.

“Although it can powerfully magnify distant objects, its field of vision is so narrow that it would be of little use against what experts consider the likeliest attack: a stream of missiles interspersed with decoys,” the report says.

In addition, due to the earth’s curvature, the SBX can only detect a high altitude threats. So it could detect a baseball over San Francisco from 2,500 miles away, but only if the ball was traveling at an altitude of 870 or more miles above the city.  Experts told LA Times that it is about 200 miles higher than a conventional missile would travel at if it were heading for the US.

“In the practical world of ICBM [inter-continental ballistic missile] threats, this baseball analogy is meaningless,” said C.Wendell Mead, an aerospace engineer who served on the National Academy of Sciences panel.

A physicist and radar engineer David K. Barton told LA Tames the project was useless since the radar system was required to track incoming weapons from “cradle to grave,” in order to give rocket interceptors enough time to eliminate enemy missiles, and the SBX is unable to do that.

LA times reported it is only the ‘tip of the iceberg’. The MDA has cost US taxpayers $10 billion for useless projects. One of them was Airborne Laser system, canceled in 2012. The project involved converting Boeing 747s to fire laser beams at missiles soon after they were launched. The only problem was the range. In order to destroy the threats, the 747s would need to fly into the swarm of missiles, and become ‘sitting ducks’.

“You can spend an awful lot of money and end up with nothing,” said Mike Corbett, a retired Air Force colonel who oversaw the agency’s contracting for weapons systems from 2006 to 2009. “MDA spent billions and billions on these programs that didn’t lead anywhere.”

The MDA was set-up during Ronald Regan’s presidency and has a budget of $8 billion and employees just shy of 9,000 people.