Missile Defense Versus Movies?


Working with our colleagues in the electronic mass media has its challenges. Sometimes it's great. Sometimes they rest cameras on your foot, shine nuclear-powered lights in everyone's face, and ask pointed questions such as "How many jobs will this bring to the area?" and "How does this make you feel?"

I was called by a CNN producer yesterday. They wanted to interview me on-camera about the need for directed infrared countermeasures (Dircm) on commercial aircraft, which I reviewed in this week's Aviation Week & Space Technology. On the phone and in a 20-minute interview, I reminded them of some of the things I'd told readers: Despite dire predictions following the 2002 missile attack on an Arkia 757 flying out of Mombasa, there had not only been no shootdowns of commercial aircraft with a manportable air defense system (Manpads) in the past ten years, there hadn't been a reported attack; Israel, which regards its aircraft as priority targets, is only adopting Elbit's C-Music Dircm for flights into specific destinations; comparing the cost of Dircm to inflight entertainment was misleadingly selective (IFE costs money, but so do no-charge drinks, frequent-flyer programs and business-class seats). 

None of this made its way into the story. 

CNN did highlight the fact that Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) picked up on the MH17 shootdown as a reason to revive the call for Dircm on the U.S. commercial fleet. So has Sen. Mark Kirk, the Republican from Illinois, where Northrop Grumman makes Dircm systems. The fact that Dircm would be as much use against Buk-M1 as a Nerf bat was soft-pedaled. 

You might ask me how this all makes me feel, but you probably already guessed. 

Discuss this Blog Entry 6

on Jul 31, 2014

Was it not the aviation 'expert commentators' employed by by CNN who coined the inaccurate and confusing term "Black Box" and also, for many weeks, repeatedly ran film of guys in a small open boat with hand-held fish-finding equipment "searching for pings" in the Indian Ocean? CNN has degenerated to nothing but sensationalism with little or no useful, accurate content to their 'stories'.

on Jul 31, 2014

LATE BREAKING NEWS! has become standard for CNN. Weren't the original recording boxes black and later were given the orange/red that is for instrumentation?

on Jul 31, 2014

Watching this report on CNN would make the average person more ignorant than before.

Cocidius (not verified)
on Aug 2, 2014

CNN has degenerated into an agency one step removed from the World Weekly News.

Stupid is as stupid does.....


on Aug 3, 2014

There were two SA-11s (17?) under the potential flight path the day before the flight. A third was brought in overnight. The slant range of the SA-11 is similar to that of the SM-1 at around 17-25nm, depending on the target height, heading and speed, relative to the launcher.

A commercial airliner at 33,000ft, even flying straight and level, at a mere Mach .85 or so, would not be an easy target for a mid-range SA-6 replacement. Having said this, if SA-11 is like the SA-6b, it has an IR secondary homing option on at least some of the rounds. As such, LAIRCM type installations -could- be useful against it but only in combination with ALE-55/ALQ-214 or a similarly capable TRD tail, if not two.

The positioning of the battery clusters makes me think that the shoot down was planned and the third unit sent in (SARH Buk has it's own target illumination radar but depends on a separate Snow Drift tracking radar to provide target cueing, each of which must be co-sited with the Firedome radar to provide surveyed handoff) to make sure the guidance coverage overlap for the ground track was total.

Something else that bothers me is that the airliner diverted north for about 14km before coming back south and it was this 'dither' that both excused the launch and gave the sites enough time to complete the attack. What could cause such a maneuver? Spoofing of the navigation system transmitters in the area. I have always suspected that this was what did in 007.

It is known that the third battery was gone the next day.

Since the Grizzly is not a MANPADS and cannot be operated by just any schmuck, the question is this: _who benefits_ from such an attack?

Not the Russians. I would say that Obama is looking for reasons to pick a fight and has, additionally the embarrassing use of the Saudi prince to deliver Nerve Agent to Al Qaeda In Syria (which the Russians uncovered with the EML to a British embassy agent as being 'something the White House wouldn't mind seeing happen' _almost a year before the actual attacks_) as raw motive to do this.

If we have black Specwar on the ground supporting the 'Ukrainian Independence Movement', it would be easily possible for them to force the issue with Ukrainian national means.

And in the wake of the Iran Air controversy, it was plain STUPID to have commercial air routing anywhere's near a warzone when their national carriers were not even one of the active combatants.

The above is what I would have hoped that someone like Bill Sweetman would tell a yutz at CNN looking for 'expert advice'.

If he erred to the side of conservatism in refusing to fill in narrative elements to alternatives, then of course his simplistic "No MANPADS is going to bother a high speed jet at 33,000ft!" commentary is going to be ignored. It doesn't inject controversy and is thus too 'normal' a rational conclusion.

To steal a phrase: You can always tell stupid press people, you just can't tell them much.

on Aug 4, 2014

CNN may not have covered your conspiracy theory, but have you checked this week's copy of National Enquirer?

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