Earth, Wind and Fire

Dear Members and Friends,

As the month of September concludes, missile defense continues to assert itself. The United States saw three major missile defense technologies continued to be proven as well as, a deeper embedment of international cooperation and support for missile defense. Remarks of intentions of threats out of the United Nations in New York this week, alongside North Korea’s continued assertions of rebuilding their nuclear program and Venezuela’s invitation to Russia for a naval fleet visit in the Southern Hemisphere, which has resurrected a Russian deep water naval presence that has been absent for decades, validates real and legitimate needs for missile defense.

Two out of the three missile defense technologies involved proving the concept of “Boost Phase” missile defense, which is the capability to shoot down ballistic missiles right after launch over the territory where they were launched while they are fully intact with all their warheads, without countermeasures and a highly visible slow moving large target. These types of technologies when mature and added to the other layers of the current deployed system will revolutionize missile defense and make it technically impossible to deliver a ballistic missile into a defended area with success.

The two “boost phase” tests this month involved the “first light” (Directed Energy Chemical Laser) out of a 747 airplane on the ground at Edwards Air Force Base in California – the Air Based Laser (ABL) and the satellite sensing test of the rocket plume of a ballistic missile in boost phase that was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California- the Near Field Infrared Experiment Research Experiment (NFIRE).

The third technology  involved the country of Japan, as they tested with success their own Patriot 3 (PAC-3) missile at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico making it the first time a foreign nation has tested their weapons there. The PAC-3 shoots down ballistic missiles to protect a small defended area at the terminal phase of an incoming warhead inside the atmosphere on its final phase of flight. Japan spends around a billion and half dollars a year deploying and developing Missile Defenses and is one of the strongest supporters in the international community.

ABL Lense

A megawatt-class chemical oxygen iodine laser (COIL) was shot out of a modified 747 Air Force aircraft on the ground which is fully integrated with sensor, targeting and stabilizing solid state lasers marked the “first light” proving and verifying the high energy laser technology to this point in time. The successful test took place on September 7, 2008.

NFire Satellite


The NFIRE satellite in orbit since April 24, 2007 was in position to study and collect data from a launched ballistic missile from Vandenberg AFB. This data helps develop and mature sensoring technologies that distinguish the enormous heat signature of the rocket plume against the body of the rocket so that targeting information can be given accurately to the interceptors to hit the rocket body not the plume of the rocket. This NFIRE technology will be on the soon to be deployed Space Tracking and Surveillance (STSS) Satellite system that will provide birth to death tracking and discrimination of ballistic missiles from space. This successful test took place on September 24, 2008.

The Hawaiian Islands

International growth and support was displayed on the first week of September in Honolulu, Hawaii.  Hawaii is the center of the Pacific, where East meets West, the Headquarters of the United States biggest Military Command PACOM, and a concentration of deployed missile defense assets at Pearl Harbor and PRMF. It was appropriate that the International Missile Defense Conference was held in Honolulu bringing together countries around the world to share, learn and develop relationships around missile defense.

Global protection against ballistic missiles is the future for missile defense and requires a fully integrated team effort by the many countries that are and will be deploying missile defenses. As these macro relationships grow between nations and experts, it is also just as important to nourish the local communities who are impacted by missile defense. In this vain, MDAA was honored to present to the International Missile Defense Conference, as well as equally honored to present to the local population, community leaders and elected officials on the West Side of Kauai, in a small town of Waimea. Building and facilitating communication and relationships at all levels supports global protection from ballistic missiles making our world a safer place.

We hope you remember these nights in September as they continue to make significant steps in assuring a safer world.

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