As I noted a few weeks ago, there are several advantages to launching a satellite rather than an ICBM with a payload. Briefly; 1) To focus the nascent Obama administration on the issue. Went off like clockwork. 2) Iran received little criticism after launching a satellite in early February. 3) An SLV is technically easier but tests the exact same technology needed for an ICBM, which could potentially be armed with a nuclear weapon.In response, Japan and South Korea (and the U.S.) are placing Aegis-class ships in useful positions, considering the announced flight path of the North Korean effort. Good coverage at Closing Velocity, a blog by a missile defense insider, see especially here, here and here. As for the U.S., see here:
The director of U.S. National Intelligence, Dennis Blair, on Tuesday stated that North Korea appears to be preparing to launch a SLV (also see OFK). What South Korea notes, and what Blair failed to emphasize, is that any launch would violate UN Security Council resolutions. Whatever the outcome - success or another miserable failure - North Korea will use the launch (portrayed as a success, or course) for internal propaganda
Two U.S. Aegis-equipped destroyers will detect and trace North Korea's long-range missile to be launched between April 4 and 8, Yonhap News Agency reported Sunday.More than a little irony in that report.
USS John S. McCain and another U.S. Aegis destroyer that participated in the large-scale South Korea-U.S. Key Resolve exercise remain in the East Sea in response to the North's upcoming missile launch, a military source was quoted as telling Yonhap.
The 12-day command-post exercise, which involved 14,000 U.S. troops stationed outside the peninsula, ended Friday.
The two U.S. warships are ready to intercept what the Stalinist North claims a satellite if it is deemed to pose a threat, the source said.
Korean-American officer Jeffrey Kim commands the USS John S. McCain, whose four radars can detect any object within a radius of 1,000 kilometers, he said.
The 9,200-ton destroyer is also capable of shooting down the North's rocket with its SM-3 interceptor missiles, according to the source.
Closing Velocity also reports on a "timely" BMD missile test run by the U.S. Navy off California March 27. Photo caption:
PACIFIC OCEAN (March 26, 2009) The San Diego-based guided-missile destroyer USS Benfold (DDG 65) fires a missile Thursday, March 26, 2009 during training exercise Stellar Daggers in the Pacific Ocean. Benfold engaged multiple targets with Standard Missile-2 (SM-2) Block IIIA and modified SM-2 BLK IV missiles. The overall objective of Stellar Daggers was to test the Aegis system's sea-based ability to simultaneously detect, track, engage and destroy multiple incoming air and ballistic missile threats during terminal or final phase of flight. The Benfold's Aegis Weapons System successfully detected and intercepted a cruise missile target with a SM-2 BLK IIIA, while simultaneously detecting and intercepting an incoming SRBM target with a modified SM-2 BLK IV. This is the first time the fleet has successfully tested the Aegis system's ability to intercept both an SRBM in terminal phase and a low-altitude cruise missile target at the same time. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)A little BMD promo featuring USS Lake Erie: