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originally posted by: Bhadhidar
a reply to: cosmicts
I've been told that the military has done a number of studies, and come to the conclusion that the only way to insure that a ballistic missile strike against the US could be thwarted is if the "counter-measure" was already place in the upper atmosphere.
Not in obit
Not on a sub.
And certainly Not sitting on the ground, even with hypersonic capability.
But on-station at an altitude above 65,000FT.
Seems a bit fantastical to me, but that's the story I was told.
I believe it's true, as it makes sense. Many laymen radically underestimate the velocity of incoming ICBM warheads. They go from stratospheric level to ground in maybe 5 seconds. They are a very fast meteorite, purposely shaped to go straight.
Consider this attempt at a terminal ABM capability:
Accelerated at 100g, reaches a spead of Mach 10 in 5 seconds, fitted with a neutron bomb nuclear warhead. First stage of the rocket blew for 1.2 seconds. It has to be because of the incoming speed of warheads.
Astounding engineering, but in the end still strategically ineffective.
But in orbit, you can't distinguish real from the many clones, and only when the incoming warheads start to hit the top of the atmosphere again can you distinguish them---real ones are heavy and less affected by air resistance.
So it makes sense to start from the upper atmosphere---much of the thick atmosphere is below you and an interception rocket could be smaller or get there faster. Still, serious ICBM missile defense seems almost impossible economically and strategically.