Wizards of Oz

"Life is fraughtless ... when you're thoughtless."


Missile Defense Agency Responds to New York Times Article

From MDA Public Affairs:

The May 18 edition of The New York Times contained an article ("Review Cites Flaws in U.S. Antimissile Program") detailing a study conducted by Dr. Theodore Postol and Dr. George Lewis published in the May issue of Arms Control Today (ACT). The study called into question the test record of the Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) sea-based interceptor that is designed to intercept and destroy short- to medium-range ballistic missiles. The ACT article stated that successful intercepts during tests of the SM-3 actually "missed" targets and should not have been assessed as successful.
The Missile Defense Agency strongly refutes this allegation. The SM-3 program is one of the most successful programs within the Department of Defense, with operational interceptors now deployed aboard U.S. Navy ships. These ships range throughout the world's oceans, providing an effective, reliable defense against short- to medium-range ballistic missiles. An extensive, operationally realistic test program is continuing to further improve and enhance the capabilities of the SM-3 element of the Ballistic Missile Defense System.
For whatever reasons, The New York Times chose not to include information provided to the newspaper by MDA to respond to allegations by Dr. Postol and Dr. Lewis which would have provided accuracy, clarity and context to the article.
Some examples:

"The system is highly fragile and brittle and will intercept warheads only by accident, if ever," said Dr. Postol.

FACT: Not included in the Times article from information provided to the reporter that from 1991 through 2010 the Missile Defense Agency has conducted 66 full scale hit-to-kill lethality sled tests and 138 sub-scale hit-to-kill light gas gun tests covering all MDA interceptor types against nuclear, unitary chemical, chemical submunitions, biological bomblets and high-explosive submunition threats. Eighteen of these tests were specifically devoted to the current SM-3 kinetic warhead system. This extensive database of lethality testing has conclusively demonstrated that MDA's weapon systems are highly lethal against ballistic missile threats when they engage within their accuracy and velocity specifications. After successful completion of early developmental tests, the test program progressed from just "hitting the target" to one of determining lethality and proving the operationally configured Aegis SM-3 Block I and SM-3 Block 1A system. These tests were the MDA's most comprehensive and realistic test series, resulting in the Operational Test and Evaluation Force's October 2008 Evaluation Report stating that Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense Block 04 3.6 System was operationally effective and suitable for transition to the Navy.

"Even so, the Pentagon later admitted that four of the 10 analyzed flight tests carried no mock warheads at all."

FACT: As stated to the Times reporter, three of the four tests cited were the very first intercept tests conducted in 2002 using a prototype SM-3. The objective of these early developmental tests was to determine if an SM-3 interceptor launched from an Aegis ship could hit a ballistic missile in flight. In each test the target was intercepted and destroyed. Since they were the very first intercept tests of the SM-3, specific lethality (hitting the warhead) was not a test objective. Target warheads used in missile defense tests are very complex, expensive assets, and since specific lethality wasn't a test objective, mock warheads were not used in these very early developmental tests. The fourth test cited in the Times article was also not a test of specific lethality. All other SM-3 intercept tests used mock warheads that were threat-representative and extensively instrumented to obtain target data and to determine the extent of their destruction.

"The dispute between the academics and the Pentagon centers on whether it is enough for a speeding interceptor to hit the body of a spent rocket moving through outer space or whether it must hit the attached warhead. Dr. Postol says the SM-3 interceptor must shatter the warhead directly, and public statements of the Pentagon agency seem to suggest that it agrees. 'The interceptors,' the agency Web site says in its basic explanation of antimissile goals, 'ram the warhead at a very high closing speed, destroying the target.' "

FACT: Although MDA provided extensive information, the Times article failed to mention that the assessment by Dr. Postol and Dr. Lewis examined only tests using "unitary" targets, whereby the warhead and booster rocket do not separate, and represents short-range SCUD missile technology. In tests against unitary targets, the SM-3 has been very successful, hitting the target missile at speeds up to 8,000 miles per hour, generating a tremendous amount of energy that caused catastrophic failure of the target missile. The Times article also didn't mention that five of six intercept tests involving separating targets -- when the warhead separates from the booster rocket, and representative of medium-range "No Dong" technology -- were very successful, with the SM-3 directly colliding with the target warhead as it traveled through space, a much smaller and challenging target compared with a unitary target.

"The study examined video images that the SM-3 kill vehicle took a split second before striking the target and that the Missile Defense Agency subsequently made public. The analysis looked at 10 tests between 2002 and 2009 -- all of which the agency hailed as successful intercepts."

FACT: Dr. Postol and Dr. Lewis stated in their article that the video and still images of the intercept were the "final" frame before interceptor impact. This isn't true; they were only images that were publicly released. Although MDA provided this information to the reporter, the Times chose not to report that subsequent sensor views showed exactly where the interceptor collided with the target -- within inches of the planned impact point -- and that these images were not released to preclude potential adversaries from determining the exact impact point.

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iPhone Black Screen: a PSA

My 2-month old iPhone 3G(s) recently became a "brick" -- completely non-responsive to the "standby" or "home" buttons. Since the battery had been a little low, I presumed it just needed to be plugged into the wall outlet.

When the battery icon and comforting "ding" did not happen, I began to worry. So I plugged it into my iTunes-equipped laptop (since Renee's two-year-old iPhone 3G has responded well to that in the past). Still nothing.... No USB jingle as I unplugged and replugged the cable. Manually launching iTunes made no difference -- there was nothing attached as far as my Toshiba was concerned.

A quick Google search on "nonresponsive iPhone" brought even more bad tidings: I was introduced to the concept of the "iPhone Black Screen of Death"! Now, in hindsight, that may not have been what I experienced. For instance, I did not get the boot screen shown to the left.

But the forums are full of panicky people who prescribe draconian solutions: lots of commentary about "hard resets" and "UDM boot cycles" and "lost data".... Since it had been more than a week since a Sync, and many apps had been downloaded, I began thinking how much of a hassle it would be to restore.

Then one post in an iPhone forum seemed to offer a hint: it advised holding down the "Standby" and "Home" buttons simultaneously for about ten seconds. ("Standby" is the one on top, next to the audio port; "Home" is below the screen on the face of the iPhone.) This particular post ended saying their iPhone "woke up -- though it took longer than expected."

If only they had quantified that last comment.... Hence this Public Service Announcement.

When I did that, I saw the boot screen shown at the top of this post. "Good news!" I thought. But then I read on in the forum; someone said "If you see the Apple boot screen you held the Home button too long!" So I tried a couple more times, eventually getting a "Cannot Connect to this iPhone" dialog from iTunes.

It was nearly 8pm on a Saturday evening. The AT&T store was still open. So I dashed out of the house, disregarding the 40-minute old carryout pizza order for the kids waiting for me the other direction, and began to drive toward the only Tech Support within a five mile radius.

That's when something funny happened. As I was waiting at the stoplight exiting our subdivision, with the white-apple-screen iPhone sitting in a perpetual boot cycle on the center console, it DID wake up! My "passcode" screen came up, and all data was intact.

Time from seeing the boot screen above to the passcode screen? More than ten minutes (or an eternity to an ADHD-afflicted adult like me).

Ironically, I've had this "bricking" happen a couple times since -- usually when I've powered down with a photo from the Camera Roll on the screen. The boot cycle seems to be a lot quicker, too. So maybe my 20GBs of data (half of which are songs, half of the remainder videos) needed to be churned through that first time I did a "warm reset".

The lesson for you? If your iPhone is non-responsive, even when plugged in, try holding the Standby and Home buttons for ten seconds. Then wait....



_Threats in the Age of Obama_, now on Kindle!

Threats in the Age of Obama (to which I am honored to have contributed a chapter) is now available in a Kindle Edition!

Many thanks to Michael Tanji (our esteemed editor) and Fred Zimmerman (our publisher) for making this happen.

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