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Strategic Defense Initiative

Strategic Defense Initiative: Survivability and Software

Office of Technology Assessment
Copyright Date: 1988
Pages: 296
Stable URL:
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  • Book Info
    Strategic Defense Initiative
    Book Description:

    Strategic Defense Initiative examines developments in the technologies currently being researched under SDI. The OTA does not repeat the work of its earlier reports but gives special attention to filling in gaps in those reports and to describing technical progress made in the intervening period. The report also presents information on the prospects for functional survival against preemptive attack of alternative ballistic missile defense system architectures now being considered under the SDI. Finally, it analyzes the feasibility of developing reliable software to perform the battle management tasks required by such system architectures.

    Originally published in 1988.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5887-3
    Subjects: Political Science
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Foreword (pp. [v]-[x])

    Inits 1985 report,New Ballistic Missile Defense Technologies,OTA attempted to place those technologies against a useful policy background for the Congress. While that report introduced the major subject areas of Strategic Defense Initiative research, the amount of detailed technical evaluation it could offer was limited. The chief limitations were the relative newness of the SDI program and the lack of specific BMD system architectures to examine. Since that report, the SDIO has conducted enough additional research and, in particular, identified a sufficiently specific system architecture that a more detailed OTA review of the relevant technologies should be helpful to...

  3. Table of Contents (pp. [xi]-[xi])
  4. Preface (pp. [xii]-[xiv])
  5. Chapter 1 Summary (pp. 3-28)

    The Strategic Defense Initiative Organization (SDIO) currently advocates planning for a three-part “phased deployment” of ballistic missile defense (BMD) systems, with each phase providing an increment of strategic benefits while preparing the way for the next phase. The first phase would be intended to “... compel Soviet operational adjustments and compromises by reducing the confidence of Soviet planners in predicting the outcome of a ballistic missile attack.” The second phase would be intended to negate Soviet abilities to destroy many strategic targets, and the third to “eliminate the threat posed by nuclear ballistic missiles.” The exact composition and timing of...

  6. Chapter 2 Introduction (pp. 31-46)

    This report identifies questions to be answered before the technical feasibility of achieving the goals set for the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) can be determined. The report also offers a snapshot of how far researchers have come toward answering these critical questions and how much remains unknown.

    Chapter 1 summarizes and explains the principal findings of this OTA study.

    Introduction This introductory chapter devotes considerable attention to goals for the SDI, since this subject continues to be a source of confusion and debate in the country. Various leaders in the Administration and in Congress have at one time or another...

  7. Chapter 3 Designing a BMD System: Architecture and Trade-off Studies (pp. 49-70)

    Researchers have performed proof-of-principle experiments for some Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) technologies. But many of the basic technologies for the SDI are still in an experimental, or even theoretical, stage. Therefore it might seem premature to be designing full-scale ballistic missile defense (BMD) systems for deployment not only in the mid-1990s, but in the 21st century. In fact, such designs are key to assessing the feasibility of achieving U.S. strategic goals through ballistic missile defense. National decisionmakers can only fully evaluate proposed systems on the merit of system architectures, not on the promise of one technology or another. If called...

  8. Chapter 4 Status and Prospects of Ballistic Missile Defense Sensor Technology (pp. 73-102)

    Much of the public debate on ballistic missile defense (BMD) technologies centers on futuristic weapon systems such as lasers, rail guns, and particle beams. The Strategic Defense Initiative Organization’s (SDIO) initial BMD system design, however, does not include any of these exotic weapons.¹ Rather, it calls for space-based interceptors (SBI) to collide with Soviet intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) boosters and post-boost vehicles (PBVs), and for high acceleration ground-based missiles to destroy Soviet reentry vehicles (RVs) by direct impact. The sensor systems required to detect, identify, and track up to several hundred thousand targets may be more challenging than the actual...

  9. Chapter 5 Ballistic Missile Defense Technology: Weapons, Power, Communications, and Space Transportation (pp. 105-156)

    This chapter reviews weapon technologies relevant to ballistic missile defense (BMD). It emphasizes the chemically propelled hit-to-kill weapons most likely to form the basis of any future U.S BMD deployment in this century. The chapter also covers the directed-energy weapons, power systems, and communication systems of most interest for the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI). Finally, it considers the new space transportation system essential for a space-based defense. A weapon system must transfer a lethal dose of energy from weapon to a target. All existing weapons use some combination of kinetic energy (the energy of motion of a bullet, for example),...

  10. Chapter 6 System Development, Deployment, and Support (pp. 159-176)

    The preceding chapters review the status of key ballistic missile defense (BMD) technologies, describing the progress made and the additional advances still needed to meet various BMD goals. These technologies would have to work together in an integrated system. The United States would have to develop the infrastructure to fabricate, test, deploy, operate, and maintain that system, and modify it in response to Soviet countermeasures. In the case of space-based elements, now considered essential for a highly effective defense, the United States would have to design, test, and build a new space transportation system. Anything but the fastest development of...

  11. Chapter 7 System Integration and Battle Management (pp. 179-196)

    Chapter 6 discusses developing, deploying, and maintaining a ballistic missile defense (BMD) system. Once deployed, BMD components would have to work together to form a fighting system. Maintaining such integration would require regular, routine support. This chapter looks at integrated operation of the system. Although some system capabilities could be used during peacetime, e.g., for surveillance, fully integrated use would only be required during battle.¹ Accordingly, most of this chapter is concerned with battle management, i.e., how the system would be managed to fight effectively. A major assumption in the discussion that follows is that the system is sufficiently wellintegrated...

  12. Chapter 8 Computing Technology (pp. 199-218)

    This chapter discusses the demands that ballistic missile defense (BMD) systems would place on computing technology, and the tradeoffs that would have to be considered in satisfying those demands. Initial sections discuss why BMD would need computers and how it would use them for battle management, weapons control, sensor data processing, communications, and simulation. Later sections describe the technology used to build computers and the requirements that the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) imposes on that technology. The chapter concludes with key issues posed by SDI computing needs. Any description of computing technology must be accompanied by a discussion of software...

  13. Chapter 9 Software (pp. 221-250)

    The performance of a ballistic missile defense (BMD) system would strongly depend on the performance of its computers. Chapter 8 describes the pervasiveness of computers in the operation of a BMD system, and as well as in its development, testing, and maintenance.¹ Sequences of instructions calledsoftwarewould direct the actions of the computers, both in peacetime and in battle. As shown in table 8-1, software is responsible both for the actions of individual components of the system (e.g., a radar), and for coordinating the actions of the system as a whole. As coordinator, software maybe thought of as the...

  14. Chapter 10 Non-Destructive Countermeasures to Ballistic Missile Defense (pp. 251-252)

    The classified version of this chapter is available in the classified version of this report. As of this writing, the unclassified version continues to be withheld from release by the Department of Defense....

  15. Chapter 11 Defense Suppression and System Survivability (pp. 253-254)

    The classified version of this chapter is available in the classified version of this report. As of this writing, the unclassified version continues to be withheld from release by the Department of Defense....

  16. Chapter 12 Defense Suppression Scenarios (pp. 255-256)

    The classified version of this chapter is available in the classified version of this report. As of this writing, the unclassified version continues to be withheld from release by the Department of Defense....

  17. Appendix A: Technology for Producing Dependable Software (pp. 259-269)
  18. Appendix B: Glossary (pp. 270-281)