"Raining on the ABM Parade"

As featured in the previous post, last week Canada was honoured by the visit of Dr. David Wright of the Union of Concerned Scientists, who spoke with members of Parliament about the dangers to space security posed by anti-satellite weapons. Dr. Wright is well-known as a co-author of the 2004 definitive technical analysis which showed that the anti-ballistic missile system currently deployed by the United States in Fort Greely, Alaska is fraught with technical problems and could easily be fooled by simple decoys.

It turns out that Mother Nature can also defeat the Fort Greely interceptors with a very low-tech weapon called “rain”. Last week Martin Sieff, a senior military analyst with UPI, reported that heavy rains in the summer of 2006 flooded most of the ABM missile silos with up to 20 metres of water, putting them out of action. Boeing, the prime contractor, apparently forgot to construct rainproof barriers on the tops of the silos, an oversight caused, perhaps, by the move of the company’s headquarters away from Seattle in 2001.

But Boeing will not be penalized for its ineptitude, but rewarded with still more Defense Department largesse. The U.S. treasury will shell out an additional $38 million to Boeing to repair the silos, and award the company an untendered contract for $100 million more to build new ones.

Such is the “Daddy Warbucks” world of defense contracting, and the parallel universe of ABM technology.


Tags: Space