|Imagine that! Wonder what is causing these hiccoughs?|
February 22, 2013 20:25 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Lightning II (AFP Photo / Files / HO / US Navy / Keith Simmons) The Pentagon has halted flights onboard its fleet of F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets, causing yet another setback for the US Defense Department’s most expensive weapons program. Lockheed Martin, the manufacturer of the […]
Feb 10, 2013
The planned multibillion-dollar missile shield for Europe is flawed to a degree that it might never be able to fulfill its ostensible goal – protecting the US from Iranian missiles – secret Defense Department studies reveal.
The classified studies were outlined to lawmakers in a briefing by the non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) which was obtained by the Associated Press.
The four-phase shield, which would be based in select NATO member states and the Mediterranean Sea, would culminate in the deployment of SM-3 Block IIB interceptors. Those interceptors would theoretically protect America and Europe from InterContinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) threats.
But it is this fourth and final stage that has now come under scrutiny. The GAO investigators said that classified reports by the Missile Defense Agency concluded that Romania was a poor location for an interceptor to protect the US. It was also revealed that the Polish site would only work if the US developed capabilities to launch interceptors which could target an Iranian missile while in its short initial phase of powered flight.
The White House has opted not to pursue that capability because it is not viewed to be feasible, said one senior defense official.
The military has considered overcoming this flaw by deploying interceptors on ships in the North Sea instead. But apart from safety concerns cited by the US Navy, said interceptors would be directly in the firing line of Russian ICBMs, reinforcing Moscow’s claims that Russia, and not Iran, is the intended target of the system.
Previous reports by both the GAO and other advisory bodies have revealed other flaws in the shield, including production glitches, defects with radar systems incapable of distinguishing between warheads and other objects, and cost overruns. One report by the National Academy of Sciences had recommended scrapping the fourth phase of the system altogether, deploying the interceptors to the US East Coast instead.
U.S. Halts Drilling on Gulf Wells With Flawed Bolts
Deep-water oil exploration has been disrupted from the Gulf of Mexico to Brazil by the discovery of faulty bolts used in safety equipment less than three years after the worst-ever U.S. maritime crude spill.
Energy explorers such as Chevron Corp., Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Transocean Ltd. said they have been directed by U.S. regulators to suspend work aboard rigs that employ General Electric Co. devices connecting drilling tubes to safety gear and the seafloor. The equipment must be retrieved so defective bolts can be replaced, the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said in an alert issued on Jan. 29.
An offshore platform produces oil in the Gulf of Mexico. Photographer: Susana Gonzalez/Bloomberg
Installing new bolts and resuming drilling may take as long as three weeks for each rig, Credit Suisse Group AG said. For oil companies paying upwards of $600,000 a day to rent the most- sophisticated deep-water vessels and another $500,000 a day to staff and supply each of them, the delays may be significant, said Craig Pirrong, director of the University of Houston’s Global Energy Management Institute.