Early in November of 2012, a spokesman for North Koreas National Defense Commission stated that its strategic rocket forces are within the scope of strike of the U.S. mainland. The announcement followed a new U.S.-South Korea missile agreement.
However, the threats we face dont just come from abroadthey also come from above.
At present, there are hundreds of thousands of pieces of debris orbiting the Earth. This debris consists of the leftovers from years of space exploration, satellite launches and other adventures in low-earth orbit (LEO). Some of these pieceseven those as small as a speck of paintcould administer serious damage or even destroy a satellite or manned space craft.
Satellites arent just crucial pieces of our modern eras communications infrastructuretheyre also valuable military assets.
Once again, this is an area where innovative radar technology can be immensely helpful. The existing space surveillance systemwhich detects some of this debris to prevent destructive collisionsneeds to be updated. If our nation fails to install this cost-effective technology, the results could be disastrous.
Fortunately, the U.S. Air Force is set to get cracking on a new Space Fence in 2013. In the opinion of many, this work cant begin soon enough.
Deterrence Is The Key
North Koreas latest bout of saber rattling serves as a reminder that the United States and its allies still have a lot of work to do to preserve peace and protect lives. Of course, America does not have unlimited financial resources to devote to this effort. Therefore, our leaders must focus on innovative deterrence technologies that can effectively guarantee our nations security without emptying the federal treasury.
For starters, the United States must make targeted investments in cutting-edge radar technologies to protect against assaults in or through the air.
In example, the Army Navy/Transportable Radar Surveillance and Control system, or AN/TPY-2, is the most advanced mobile radar system in the world. AN/TPY-2 is capable of tracking ballistic missiles shortly after launch as well as serving as the fire-control radar for the THAAD system that destroys threatening incoming missiles with stunning accuracy.
There are reports that North Koreas long-range missiles may be capable of reaching Alaska. This means the AN/TPY-2 is precisely the kind of technology that deserves continued investment and innovation.
The same is true for the US Air Forces Three-Dimensional Expeditionary Long-Range Radar (3DELRR). Intended as a replacement to the AN/TPS-75 radar that has been fielded since 1968, the 3DELRR is far more capable at detecting stealthy targets in challenging environments and is also simpler to operate and maintain. Such creates an opportunity for significant long-term cost savings.
Then theres JLENS, which consists of a system of helium-filled aerostats that can hover as high as 10,000 feet, offering 360-degree detection, tracking, and targeting of everything from cruise missiles and low-flying aircraft to cars and boats.
JLENS can do the work of four or five fixed-wing surveillance aircraftand represents a great example of how smart radar technology can lower the cost of protecting our country from attack.
Investments in these areas should be seen as an important part of the U.S. militarys modernization efforts, which aim to create a more nimble, cost-effective and efficient fighting force through advanced affordable technology. Those efforts were a major focus of the recent annual meeting of the Association of the United States Army in Washington.
However, these important investments are not yet assured, particularly in the current defense budget environment. Yet, cutting-edge technologiesparticularly new approaches to radarrepresent a cost-effective way asset to safeguard the United States and should be at the foundation of our nations defense strategy.
These improved radar capabilities can help ensure peace by retaining our warfighters edge and should remain a budget priority to ensure our long-term national security.
About the author
David Gulla is vice president of Global Integrated Sensors for Raytheon Integrated Defense
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The Disassembling Of The North Korean Launch??
As this issue went to press, the Xinhua China News Agency reported that satellite images reveal North Korea engaged in activity that seemed to be disassembling the long-range rocket the country was planning to use to place a satellite into orbit. How incorrect those assumptions were...
North Korea did, indeed, fire a long-range rocket in its second launch on Wednesday, December 12th, under its new leader, defying warnings from the United Nations and Washington. South Korean and Japanese officials confirmed that lift-off took place at 9:51 am (6:21 AM IST). North Korea declared the launch of a rocket and satellite a success, and state television planned a special broadcast about the launch at noon.
The three-stage rockets first stage had separated as scheduled and splashed down in the sea off South Koreas southwest coast. This successful launch carries profound security implications, marking a major advance in the Norths bid to mate an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capability with its nuclear weapons program. Japan had been on high alert since the 13-day lift-off window opened, despite a suggestion from Pyongyang that it could delay the much-criticised blast-off. Tokyo deployed missile defence systems to intercept and destroy the rocket if it looked set to fall on its territory, with missile batteries in and around Tokyo and in the Okinawan archipelago. Most political analysts believe the launch is designed to bolster the credentials of new leader Kim Jong-un as he cements his rule over the country of 22 million people.
For additional updated information on this, and other SATCOM-related news, please head over to SatNews.com.