To Infinity and beyond!

by UmairJ on 3/14/2011 · 4 comments

So according to the Danger Room, the United States Air force is going to go ahead with its controversial plan on using conventionally-armed Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles to take out terrorist targets. Though this plan looked like it was going to be scrapped because as soon as any nation hears the word ‘ballistic missile’ thoughts of World War 3 will be running through their minds, it seems that the Air force is willing to tweak the project just a bit.

At the moment this plan is under the direct control of the office of the Secretary of Defense and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and it seems that the Air force has not been invited to the conversation table. All that can really be said is that these are just rumours at the moment. However, if this was to be implemented the only area that one can really think of it being used is in FATA.

There is no other place really in the world where the United States can really risk using these missiles in case they do want to take out a terrorist camp. Other than the fact that Pakistan is known to house many terrorist camps and its border with Afghanistan has caused a huge headache to the United States, they are an ally and individuals who can be persuaded more readily. What if DOD actually thinks that this is a good idea?

If that does happen, I think we can definitely see Pakistan having a very bad reaction to the issue considering that they were two-faced until very recently on the issue of drones. The Army will obviously never accept the use of ballistic missiles in training camps and nor should they especially since these missiles have large kill ratio and ISAF and NATO are not really known to be civilian friendly (‘mistakes’). Considering that Drones miraculous kill only Taliban commanders, letting a ballistic missile, which is again much more lethal is not a good idea.

Am I wrong to assume that ballistic missiles do sound worse, or are they actually not as bad as I think they are? Pakistan and India both tested long-range ballistic missiles today and well, if they weren’t so lethal why is United States even considering them in the first place?

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Undergrad in Political Science and History. Main area of interest include, Kashmir, Pakistan and Islam and contemporary Middle East in general.

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CE March 14, 2011 at 6:36 am

The USAF may just be blowing smoke up everybody’s asses. They should certainly be interested in acquiring quasi-ballistic capabilities, but it’s not because they’re looking to strike Al-Qaeda’s monkey bar installations on a second’s notice; it’s more likely that they are using the terrorist threat for cover—what they’re really interested in is a system that can counter or even exceed similar weapons systems from the more conventional threats facing the US, like the Russian and Chinese quasi-ballistic Iskanders and Dong-Fengs.

That’s where the DARPA Falcon Project comes in.

I don’t even want to get into that fucking farce of a mess, but just suffice it to say that the only reason they’re even talking about jimmy rigging a ballistic missile and a hypersonic glider together is because they haven’t been able to develop a proper launch system that’s worth a damn for their ‘hypersonic cruise vehicle.’ And because the military has been using Minotaur rockets to boost the HTV for its suborbital test flights, I guess people started getting confused; maybe they think that the ballistic boosting component is somehow the focal point of the whole program.

Point is that ICBMs, whether carrying a non-nuclear payload or a hypersonic glider, make absolutely no sense in the War on Terror. If we need to blow up a Toyota pickup full of 16-year olds or a terrorist qat-chewing sesh, hell-fires and tomahawks are more than sufficient. No need to get ‘ballistical.’

Brett March 14, 2011 at 12:23 pm

the United States Air force is going to go ahead with its controversial plan on using conventionally-armed Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles to take out terrorist targets.

This sounds like an incredibly bad and dangerous idea. How do you tell a nuclear-tipped ICBM headed for that part of the world from a conventionally tipped one? It’s almost begging for a near crisis to start because someone’s radar in Russia gets tipped off falsely that the nukes are incoming.

anan March 14, 2011 at 6:45 pm

Brett, don’t agree. This only happens if the US doesn’t coordinate with Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Japan, South Korea.

Remember how the US informed Pakistan just before the 1998 strikes against Afghanistan that killed 20 Pakistani Army officers? In practice, when has the US engaged in any major military action without informing the other great global powers in advance? Bush personally got on the phone with PM Vajpayee, China, Russia and the other great powers in advance of the 2003 Iraq war.

anan March 14, 2011 at 6:41 pm

UmairJ, enjoy your trip and say safe. Look forward to hearing what you observe.

Conventionally tipping ICBMs strikes me as a positive. Nuclear ones are practically unusable. We need less nuclear tipped delivery packages, not more.

Civilian tipped ICBMs aren’t likely to be used except in a conventional conflict against a capable conventional adversary. Since WWII, the US has fought 7 of these conflicts. . . Korea, Vietnam, Gulf War 1991, Bosnia 1995, Desert Fox 1998, Serbia 1999, Gulf War 2003. [Libya 1986, Somalia 2003, Panama 1989, Greneda 1983, 2001 Afghanistan, 1998 Afghanistan/Sudan . . . etc. were not against capable air defense and air force powers.]

The only way I can foresee civilian tipped ICBMs are used against Pakistan is in the event of a conventional conflict between the US and Pakistan, or if the US believes that Pakistan’s nuclear assets are in danger of being acquired by the Taliban, Al Qaeda or their allies. Otherwise, the US is unlikely to use conventional long range ICBMs against Pakistan.

Conventional ICBMs are extremely expensive delivery platforms and only make sense in cases where US/allied forces lack air superiority or nearby bases

On the whole, I welcome replacing nuclear ICBMs with conventionally tipping ICBMs.

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