aegis_test.jpgWe give the missile defense program a pretty hard time around here, especially when they don't even manage to pass their own dumbed-down tests. So give the Star Wars crowd some credit: one of their interceptors successfully downed a mock warhead on Thursday. It's "the fifth success in six such tests of the fledgling U.S. anti-missile shield's sea-based leg," according to Reuters. The ground-based component of the missile shield has, obviously, not performed nearly as well.The target rocket was fired from the U.S. Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands, Kauai, and was hit a few minutes later from a Standard Missile-3 interceptor fired from the USS Lake Erie guided missile cruiser. The ship used the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense Weapon System to track the target. By year's end, the U.S. Navy wants 18 ships equipped with the system, Defense Daily notes."Last fall," Reuters observes, "the Japan-based Arleigh Burke-class destroyer Curtis Wilbur became the first component of the anti-missile shield to be put on patrol in the Sea of Japan to guard against North Korean attack."Philip Coyle, the Pentagon's former chief of testing and evaluation and a normally vicious skeptic of the missile defense system, was muted in his reactions to yesterday's test. But he did have this to say:

I assume that the intercept took place so soon after interceptor launch - just two minutes - because they wanted to demonstrate the capability intercept a short range enemy missile, and at relatively close range from the launching Aegis ship. Depending on the actual geometry and conditions, such tests can be highly scripted to be successful on such a short time scale.
THERE'S MORE: Canada decided yesterday not to join in the American anti-missile effort. And that elicited a rather odd reponse from U.S. ambassador Paul Cellucci: "We simply cannot understand why Canada would in effect give up its sovereignty its seat at the table to decide what to do about a missile that might be coming towards Canada."Right. Canada makes its own decisions about how best to spend its money and defend its citizens. And that means it's giving up its sovereignty. Whatever you say, Paul.(thanks to RC for the pointer)AND MORE: "What the U.S. Ambassador is saying is that the U.S. has arrogated to itself the right to invade Canada's airspace in order to fire at an incoming missile that may be aimed at Canada, the U.S., or Mexico, even if Canada objects to such an action," Defense Tech Dad Tom Shachtman says over on the forum. "This in effect negates Canadian sovereignty over its own airspace."Jeff Quinton points out that a retired Canadian general has just made a similar point -- that, as Jeff puts it, "NORAD/Northern Command... are set up to provide security for the whole continent and that Canada could be shut out of the planning process."
"Canadians will not have any participation in the actual decision-making or the rules of engagement or anything to do with ballistic missile defence," lieutenant-general George MacDonald, the former vice-chief of defence staff and now a consultant, tells the National Post. "We will simply be feeding the system."
AND MORE: "Prime Minister Paul Martin said Canada must be consulted before the U.S. decides to fire on missiles that enter Canadian airspace, despite Ottawa's refusal to participate in America's missile defence program," the CBC reports.
"I don't think that anyone expected that there would be any other finger on a button than the Americans," Martin said Friday, a day after his decision not to join the program."But in terms of Canadian airspace, yes we would expect to be consulted. This is our airspace. We're a sovereign nation. And you don't intrude on a sovereign nation's airspace without seeking permission," Martin said.
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