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The Pentagon's new plan to kill North Korean ICBMs is basically ripped right from 'Asteroid'
The Defense Department is weighing a plan to deploy F-35 fighters to hover on the outskirts of North Korea airspace and neutralize intercontinental ballistic missiles shortly after launch, Reuters reports.
News of the plan, developed as part of a six-month study on intercepting North Korean ICBMs and conceived as a near-term option, comes as President Donald Trump meets with North Korea's Kim Jong Un in Vietnam on critical questions surrounding Pyonyang's nuclear and missile testing programs.
The Pentagon has been toying with novel missile defense strategies for years now: In January, the DoD's Missile Defense Review presented a milieu of potential options worth further examination, Defense One reported, ranging from drone-based lasers and orbiting missile platforms to reconfiguring the F-35 for missile defense missions.
Indeed, the MDR "[called] for the testing and development of a new or modified interceptor which could shoot down a ballistic missile in the boost phase," Defense News noted at the time. "There is also the possibility of using the F-35, equipped with its array of sensors, to hunt and track mobile missile units, which is a key part of North Korea's doctrine."
Three F-35C Lightning II, attached to Commander, Joint Strike Fighter Wing, the "Argonauts" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 147, the "Rough Raiders "Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 125 and the "Grim Reapers" Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 101 complete a flight overhead Eglin Air Force Base(U.S. Navy/Chief Mass Communication Specialist Shannon E. Renfroe)
Right now, the plan is, well, a pipe dream. An F-35-based ICBM killer 'calls for interceptor missiles that fly so fast they could melt one expert said, and the only surefire way for U.S. military aircraft to defeat a missile with current technology would be to fly in hostile airspace," missile defense experts told Reuters.
One possibility exists, however, based on combining two elements proposed in the MDR: Incorporating the drone-based laser concept into the F-35, a la the terrible 1997 miniseries Asteroid, which stars noted missile defense experts Michael Biehn and Annabella Sciorra.
This is absolutely how lasers work(NBC Universal)
It's not a new concept: Wired notes that the U.S. Missile Defense Agency suspended its Boeing 747-based Airborne Laser Test Bed anti-ICBM system because it "was too costly and unwieldy." And while the technology has matured significantly in recent years, airborne directed energy weapons are notoriously complicated and frequently short on funding, as with the Air Force Special Operations AC-130J Ghostrider gunship.
But not for long. In 2017, F-35 manufacturer Lockheed Martin was contracted to explore an aircraft-mounded directed energy weapon under the Air Force Research Lab's Self-Protect High Energy Laser Demonstrator program. The $26 million contract, which builds on the its work for the Army, aims to have a fighter-mounted test weapon by 2021.
An Air Force artist's conception of a fighter-mounted directed energy weapon(U.S. Air Force Research Lab photo)
"We're putting a weapon traveling at the speed of light onto an aircraft capable of traveling the speed of sound, while targeting threats likely also traveling at supersonic speeds," Lockheed laser weapons systems senior fellow Rob Afzal told Wired. "Ruggedization is critical."
Despite this, the idea of a laser-equipped F-35B hovering near North Korean airspace and slapping missiles out of the sky may remain just an idea. Sure, the F-35 is inching towards real lethality downrange, the ongoing technical and reliability issues facing the F-35 program make the prospect of a complicated directed energy system increasingly improbable.
Oh well. We'll always have Asteroid.
QUANTICO MARINE CORPS BASE, Virginia -- Textron Systems is working with the Navy to turn a mine-sweeping unmanned surface vessel designed to work with Littoral Combat Ships into a mine-hunting craft armed with Hellfire missiles and a .50-caliber machine gun.
Textron displayed the proof-of-concept, surface-warfare mission package designed for the Common Unmanned Surface Vehicle (CUSV) at Modern Day Marine 2019.
"It's a huge capability," Wayne Prender, senior vice president for Applied Technologies and Advanced Programs at Textron Systems, told Military.com on Tuesday.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs put on leave an Atlanta-based administrator and reassigned the region's chief medical officer and seven other staff members while it investigates the treatment of a veteran under its care.
Joel Marrable's daughter discovered more than 100 ant bites on her father when she visited him in early September.
The daughter, Laquna Ross, told Channel 2 Action News: "His room had ants, the ceiling, the walls, the beds. They were everywhere. The staff member says to me, 'When we walked in here, we thought Mr. Marrable was dead. We thought he wasn't even alive, because the ants were all over him.'"
SAN DIEGO, Calif. — A former U.S. Navy sailor was sentenced to 20 years in prison Monday for having sexual contact with a 14-year-old Oceanside girl in 2017, federal prosecutors in San Diego said in a statement.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Known for acting on impulse, President Donald Trump has adopted an uncharacteristically go-slow approach to whether to hold Iran responsible for attacks on Saudi oil facilities, showing little enthusiasm for confrontation as he seeks re-election next year.
After state-owned Saudi Aramco's plants were struck on Saturday, Trump didn't wait long to fire off a tweet that the United States was "locked and loaded" to respond, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran.
But four days later, Trump has no timetable for action. Instead, he wants to wait and see the results of investigations into what happened and is sending Pompeo to consult counterparts in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates this week.
That sound you're hearing is Army senior leaders exhaling a sigh of relief, because the Army has surpassed its recruiting goal for the year.
After failing to meet recruiting goals in 2018, the Army put the pedal to the metal and "did some soul searching," said Acting Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy, to ensure that they'd meet their 2019 goal. It must have paid off — the service announced on Tuesday that more than 68,000 recruits have signed on as active-duty soldiers, and more soldiers have stuck around than they expected.