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Don’t Have a Freak Out – Russian, Chinese Anti-Satellite Technology Nothing New January 31, 2018

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, Flightline Friday, history, It's all about the $$$, non squitur, silliness, Society, technology.
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This article from Hot Air is remarkably ignorant of history.  It does not mention, for instance, Program 437, which ran from 1962 until 1975, which involved launching a Thor missile from Johnson Atoll in the Pacific to down low earth orbit satellites and/or fractional orbit bombardment systems (FOBS) – a kind of nuclear warhead designed to behave like a satellite and thus attack by stealth, possibly from a surprising direction – like from the south.  This was an active US anti-satellite (ASAT) capability for over a decade.

And even Program 437 was preceded by another American ASAT system, Program 505, which used a Nike Zeus anti-ballistic missile missile to also target low earth orbit satellites and FOBS.  505 was phased out because Thor could reach much higher altitudes than Zeus, up to 800 miles above earth – really out of LEO territory and into medium orbits.  Both were armed with nuclear warheads to make sure they killed what they targeted, though they were accurate enough (at least Zeus was) to get skin-to-skin hits even way back in the very early 60s.  Satellites and ICBM reentry vehicles behave in extremely similar ways, if you have a capability against one, you have a capability against the other.  And right now, the US missile defense system is neither the world’s most advanced nor it’s most comprehensive.  Apparently, many other nations have concluded that shooting down targets on entirely predictable ballistic paths is not impossible.  Because it’s not, and we’ve been doing it for nearly 60 years, though the current Ground Based Mid-Course Defense system is kind of a kludge and has been starved of vital infrastructure for years (like enough radars to discriminate targets).

The thing is, all of our major world adversaries have had a similar capability for decades.  Pretty much, if you have the ability to orbit a satellite, you have the ability to shoot them down, at least the ones in LEO. Simply calculate the orbit of the target satellite, and launch your own to coincide with at some determined time, and blammo, no more satellite. The Soviets had a massive ASAT program from the 60s on, and deployed a number of ASAT systems, up to an including a 1 megawatt laser battle station prototype, which, thank God, failed to achieve orbit when it’s booster turned the wrong direction and fired it back into the atmosphere (that was in 1987, when the same Soviets were screaming to all the world, and had eager acolytes in the Western press doing same, that orbital laser battle stations were an impossibility.  They were actually way ahead of us at the time, and in some ways, still are).

Anyhoo, some statist media were trying to work up a panic today, eagerly parroting what their patrons in the Deep State wanted them to say, proclaiming that Oh My God, the bad guys are threatening us again!  It’s all much ado about nothing (or very little, and very old, news), but it does point up that, indeed, at present, the US has no viable, operational ASAT system, not because we don’t have the ability, or can’t afford it, but by deliberate act of policy. Any number of systems have been proposed, and a good number have reached the hardware stage, but demonrats in Congress (or the executive branch) have always managed to scuttle them, since we signed a stupid treaty in 1967 that pretends to ban warfare in outer space.*  Good luck with that:

China and Russia are developing anti-satellite missiles and other weapons and will soon be capable of damaging or destroying all U.S. satellites in low-earth orbit, according to the Pentagon’s Joint Staff.

The Joint Staff intelligence directorate, known as J-2, issued the warning in a recent report on the growing threat of anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons from those states, according to officials familiar with the assessment.

The report concludes that “China and Russia will be capable of severely disrupting or destroying U.S. satellites in low-earth orbit” in the next several years, said the officials.

The capability to attack low-earth orbit satellites could be in place by 2020, the officials said.

Notice the subtle manipulation – there is a big threat, but it’s not quite real, yet.  We’re safe for now.  But you better pour billions into our pet project, or we’ll be doomed, doomed!

There actually is a real threat out there, but I think it has much more to do with how the US defense establishment has allowed its operations to evolve into this desire for an ultimate control, God’s eye view of the battlespace, requiring massive recon and even more massive data transfer capabilities.  Because the “gods” don’t want to be anywhere near an actual battlefield, which tend to be in hot, nasty, dusty, and sticky places.  They want to sit in their air conditioned cocoon in DC and call all the shots.  The only, or easiest, way to get worldwide recon and transmission of data is via satellite.  Thus, the US military is now incredibly, incredibly dependent on constant and massive satellite presence, a very very delicate system and one with a thousand and one dire vulnerabilities and single points of failure. Thus the screaming about the threat.  25 years ago, satellites were very nice to have an in some limited ways even vital, but the Gulf War could have been fought with a serious reduction in our satellite capabilities without a great deal of impact at the operational level.  Nowadays, literally everything runs via satellite, from the Predator footage that allows Obama to sit in the Oval Office and watch a terrorist get Hellfired in Yemen, to all the JDAMs/JSOWs/JASSMs and other “joint” bombs and missiles that now make up the overwhelming majority of the ordinance dropped by tactical aircraft, which, similarly, navigate via satellite.  There is still some sanity, many of these bombs and certainly the aircraft have embedded INS and other systems to back up and replace the GPS if need be, but a) those are just that, back ups, and not used much anymore, and b) the entire concept of operations, training, budgets, etc., are focused around constant availability of very expensive, very few, and very vulnerable satellites.  This actually is a very major concern for the US, because satellites are extremely difficult to harden, and they are very easy to find (there are ways around this, satellites do contain maneuvering fuel, but not very much, and a few orbit changes to avoid a threat will use that up very quickly.  Plus, moving them around causes them to not be where you need them to be when you need them – at least some of the less numerous kinds. Probably most of you would be shocked to know how FEW recon “spy” satellites the US has in orbit – even adding in the radar and other non-visual types, it isn’t even 10, and may be as few as 4 or 5).

Thus, ZUMA, which some of you may have heard of, was probably not actually a failed mission, but is almost certainly a prototype (or not so prototype) stealth satellite design.  That’s one way to avoid being targeted – many amateur astronomers, radio hobbyists, etc, are able to track all publicly acknowledged satellites by their transmissions (even if they cannot decode them), literally see them in orbit, etc.  It is known there have been some stealth satellites that were not visible to the ground and used transmission technologies that most ordinary enthusiasts could not ID and track.  Several of these have been orbited over the years.  ZUMA appears to be another one, but unusually large and with an unusual cover story.

*- While the Us has no acknowledged, purpose-built ASAT system at present, as recently as 10 years ago, the US very publicly shot down a satellite in LEO using an ABM missile (a Navy Standard 3 missile, our best ICBM defense weapon at this point).  If a nation has an operational ABM system, it most certainly has at least some measure of an ASAT capability. I’m sure Obama scratched any further development of that capability, even at the classified level, but perhaps Trump will turn it back on.

In the past, I’d have said that was a good thing.  Not so sure anymore.

Sorry I do have a lot of good Catholic stuff to get to but had little time today.  I’m really running late now, have a blessed evening.

Sorry for the atrocious pic – who would take it from between some fuzzy covers, and why? But it’s the only one that shows what we could have had, and almost had – a layered missile defense system covering almost the entire US with nearly 1000 interceptors (more could have been added later) with numerous, very capable and very hardened, targeting radars. Not sure why New Orleans and El Paso were left uncovered – Miami, too, apparently. This system wasn’t really good against SLBMs but with additional radars and interceptor sites, easily could have been. Yes it was expensive but at present we have almost no defense, and for some of the country, none at all, against a ballistic missile attack, nuclear or otherwise.
These are coverage areas of the proposed – and somewhat built – Sentinel ABM system, which later was called Safeguard under Nixon, and then cancelled by the commie Congress of the mid-70s that came in the national temper tantrum in the wake of Watergate, which was an absolute nothing burger compared to what the corrupt federal government is up to today, and has been since at least Jan 20 2009, when Obama turned it into the paramilitary enforcement branch of the demonrat party.

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Comments

1. GodfreyBouillon - January 31, 2018

Hey, I’m sorry for making an unrelated comment on this post but I just found your blog while searching for historic pictures of the Interior of Dallas Sacred Heart Cathedral before the terrible changes. Your picture of the high altar and of a wider view in the 2013 post “Look what they have done to my Father’s house!” Are fantastic! I also love your commentary on the Church and many other things in your other posts. I’m particularly interested if you would be so kind if you could make a post with all your pictures of the historic church before “the spirit of Vatican II” changed it, as a Dallas Catholic born in 1998 your two photos are the only two I’ve seen and you seemed to imply that you have or have seen others. If you can’t make a post but if you could point me to someplace that has historical photos/information that would be great as well! Thank you for all your great work and I apologize again for my selfish request and not being on topic!

Tantumblogo - January 31, 2018

Thank you very much, and I love the name. Such a great Catholic, the Lion of the First Crusade! Too bad he did not live very long as King of Jerusalem, had he, the entire history of Outremer could have been quite different!

I think those two pics are the only two I have, but I will search. I used to have a great many on another computer, but it died and much data was permanently lost. There is a wonderful commenter here named MFG would has some great historic data on churches in Dallas. Perhaps he can add a comment, I would love to visit the diocesan archives to try to get more pics and other things – there were many beautiful churches but almost all were either laicized and closed or wreckovated to death.


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