One of the big tests of the Alaska missile defense system -- originally pegged for December, 2003, and then rescheduled for this August -- has been delayed again. The booster for the anti-missile interceptor is having computer problems, Victoria Samson, an analyst with the Center for Defense Information, tells Defense Tech. "It's supposed to cause a 200 millisecond telemetry dropout from the flight computer. It isn't that much, but apparently is enough to warrant pulling out the computer and replacing it."Word is that this test -- known as "Integrated Flight Test-13C" -- now won't happen until late-September, at the earliest. And that's more than a bit troubling, for two reasons. First, the Alaska anti-missile system is supposed to come on line just a few weeks later, in October. Second, missile and interceptor aren't even supposed to meet up during "IFT-13C," according to Samson."Officially, this test is slated to be a target 'fly-by,'" she says.AND MORE: " Unfortunately, the Alaska missiles cannot defend America. And that's the least of their shortcomings.," says the L.A. Times' William Arkin.The big problem is that missile defense focuses "on the wrong threat," he adds. "The December 2001 National Intelligence Estimate on ballistic missile threats, which advocates of the new system cite as their justification, predicted that several countries could use ships off the U.S. coast to launch missiles cruise missiles, that is that would sneak under the currently planned antimissile network. In fact, any homeland security expert will agree that U.S. ports and maritime approaches are the most vulnerable."
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