Wednesday 14 January 2004

Star Wars Down Under

Standard Missile LaunchFrom The Australian :
An Australian decision to join the US in developing a long-range missile defence shield would destabilise regional security, Indonesia's chief foreign ministry spokesman warned today.

Australian Defence Minister Robert Hill today said Indonesia was comfortable with Canberra's decision to proceed with planning for a missile shield, which in Australia's case could be based around advanced air defence warships equipped with long-range missiles.
Djoko Susilo, a member of the Indonesian parliament's commission for security, defence and foreign affairs, yesterday said Australia's consideration of air warfare destroyers for the navy capable of shooting down ballistic missiles in space was an aggressive move.
Leaving aside the Indonesian fulmination about Australia´s aggression in deciding it should be able to avoid being a helpless target for any Ballistic Missile that wanders our way, there are some items of technical interest.

It appears that our Lords and Masters have decided that we need things called Standard SM-2(ER) Block IV-A´s. These are basically common-or-garden anti-aircraft missiles on steroids. But they do have one unusual property: they´ve been proven to have an ABM (Anti Ballistic Missile) Capability. At least against "short- and medium-range ballistic missiles".

A test on December 11th scored a direct contact hit on an incoming ballistic missile with a similar profile to that of a Scud or North Korean NoDong.

It´s important to realise that hitting an ICBM (Intercontinental Ballistic Missile) is rather more difficult. Systems like this are designed as Theatre Ballistic Missile Defences, not Strategic ones. They´re for KO´ing incoming tactical missiles, usually headed towards ports or friendly form-up areas.

Such a capability is directly relevant to the types of activity Australia has engaged in recently, where we´ve sent in Naval Task Forces into the Gulf and elsewhere, sometimes in conjunction with the US Navy, but sometimes alone. Acquiring some Air-and-Space Defence ships will enable the ADF (Australian Defence Forces) to protect our own expeditionary forces, without having to rely on the US.

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