Tuesday, March 15, 2005

canukistan 2

Canada and Missile Defense

by Bob Skilnik


Canada's Sovereign Airspace

Since the early 1990s, Canada and the United States have held periodic consultations on the idea of an integrated anti-ballistic missile system to protect all of North America from a surprise missile attack from potential enemies. At the time that the talks were initiated, President George H. Bush had revised the ambitious Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) program of the Reagan era, and authorized research and development of the Global Protection Against Limited Strikes (GPALS) program which was also intended, like SDI, as a missile defense system that would have the limited capability of dealing with no more than 200 incoming warheads, a reflection of the nuclear stand down between Moscow and Washington.

The end of the Cold War and the dismantling of a large portion of the strategic missile systems of the former Soviet Union and the United States had ended the Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) doctrine that both superpowers ascribed to and against which SDI was originally envisioned. With MAD, huge arsenals of land and sea-based nuclear delivery systems had assured each party that a massive Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) attack by either side would almost assuredly bring about the mutual annihilation of the aggressor country as well. The philosophy of MAD was retaliatory, not defensive. Frightening in its simplicity, MAD held the destructive nuclear possibilities of the U.S.S.R. and the United States in abeyance for decades.

Until recently, however, the idea of using a “Star Wars” strategy of shooting down incoming missiles as they made their way towards North America was little more than a pipe dream. But with five successful intercepts of test-fired ballistic missiles, the latest taking place on February 24, the reality of a protective anti-missile shell over all of Canada, the U.S., and Mexico, is coming closer to fruition. Perhaps one should say “was” and not “is” after Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin abruptly decided to bow out of the cost-free (for Canadians, that is) defensive program that he had initially supported.

Why? Well, only Martin knows the answer to the question but his tentative hold on his coalition government is highly dependent on the support of the more radical elements of the Liberal Party and the whining of voters living in Quebec, the most pacifist of Canadian providences. To make matters worse, the Prime Minister now insist that the U.S. will be required to get permission from the Canadian government before firing on any incoming missiles coming in over Canada towards the U.S. “This is our airspace, we're a sovereign nation and you don't intrude on a sovereign nation's airspace without seeking permission,” said Martin, indicating that he either has the big balls of a bull moose or the minuscule brain of a weasel.

At the last stage of a defensive anti-missile posture, a point where seconds might make the difference between knocking out an incoming missile or contemplating what's left of the ruble that was once Washington, D.C., there's no time to make a a decision by committee, layered with political niceties. To get an idea of how the Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) operates, and why a missile flying over Canada is the point of no return, it might help to look at the overall anti-ballistic missile system.

The Boost Phase Defense is the most ambitious phase and most reminiscent of a “Star Wars” approach to defense. As an attack missile leaves its launching pad, struggles against the forces of gravity and is still within an altitude of 300 miles or less, high power lasers beams will be used to kill the threatening missile. As a second resort---a back-up---Kinetic Energy Interceptors (KEI) launched from mobile systems will be used to bring down the missiles. The window for targeting and destroying attack missiles in the first few minutes of flight is short, only three to five minutes after launch, but offers an easily-targeted heat signature from the engine. This short time frames precipitates a sea-based defense that would have to be deployed to a region in anticipation of attack. Current plans are for this phase to be fully tested by 2011.

The Terminal Phase Defense is one of last resort and the system that would be deployed over the sovereign airspace of Canada. This phase typically last thirty-seconds to one minute or so as the attack missile falls back into the atmosphere and heads towards its target. It consists of a combination of truck-mounted missile launchers, including Arrow and Patriot Pac-3 systems, jet interceptors, radars---to include a towering X-band radar system that will be built to float at sea on two motorized pontoons the size of Trident submarines---and command, control, and battle management (C2BM) features. The C2BM integrates external defensive systems with the national military command structure.

A key part of the BMDS is the currently deployed Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system which employs various ground and sea-based defensive missile systems during the Midcourse Phase Defense. This middle range phase for the interception of attack missiles currently offers the greatest degree of kill success, with a window of up to twenty minutes. Multiple launches of Ground-Based Interceptors (GBI) could be used to ensure a high rate of success, boosted by the predictable path of an attack missile as it goes through and completes its trajectory. At a predetermined point, the GBI would release a Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV) that is fifty-five inches long and weighs 140 pounds. This device has its own infrared seeker, guidance system, and motor. As it nears its target, the EKV would integrate data from a sophisticated radar system, adjust its flight path if necessary, and lock on to its target. If successful, the interceptor would collide with the attack missile and destroy it and its payload. A challenge to this defensive phase of missile intercept, however, is the ability of the offensive missile to employ countermeasures to thwart multiple intercept missiles. It is this phase that is currently being deployed and being tested.

Since the U.S. intelligence currently projects a possible ICBM threat from either North Korea or Iran in the next fifteen years or so, as current technological hurdles in their missile programs are surmounted, the deployment and continued testing of the BMDS in upcoming years seems warranted and it's this reality that makes Canadian Prime Minister Martin's decision to pull-out of a North American anti-missile defensive system so alarming.

So what should the United States do with their increasingly irritating neighbor up north in light of their claim of airspace sovereignty---even as missiles are reentering the atmosphere? Obviously, fire our missiles over the Great North to protect our country, Martin, Quebec, and the Liberal Party be damned. In the meantime, however, why not put the economic squeeze on them. Canadians have been begging the U.S. to resume the importation of their beef, this in light of a number of cases of mad cow disease found in their Alberta bovines. President Bush had earlier pledged to veto a bill approved by the Senate that would continue to stop the importation of Canadian beef to the U.S. Hopefully, the President will reconsider his threat of a veto and send a message to P.M. Martin. While he's at it, some nice-sized tariffs on Canadian soft lumber would be nice, as well as a tariff retaliation on potatoes from Prince Edward Island.

Will a trade war help convince Martin that alienating Canada's biggest and most powerful ally by jeopardizing its national security is a mistake? Well, look at France. The U.S. tourist trade in Gaul has decreased considerably since their treachery at the United Nations when Bush was seeking their support for the invasion of Iraq. French wine imports have also fallen almost twenty-five percent in the same period.

Suddenly, France has offered to spend E15 million to train 1500 Iraqi military police in neighboring Qatar or even in France while forgiving some Iraqi debt. They've also assumed a joint posture with the U.S. to force Syria out of Lebanon, and are about to send their defense minister to Washington with hat in hand, hoping to win U.S. support for the European Union's plan to lift its weapons embargo against China. It's not a U.S.-France love fest, but the economic effect of the average American avoiding anything to do with France has had an effect.

Now it's Canada's turn.


Post a Comment

<< Home