Thursday, April 26, 2007

Exporting the Raptor

Recently, there has been renewed interest on the part of Japan in acquiring the Lockheed F-22A Raptor air dominance fighter. It's no secret that the F-22A is the ultimate iteration of a fighter aircraft currently flying. The only other nation to be making substantial progress (in the view of the public, at least) on a similar aircraft is Russia with the Sukhoi T-50 PAK-FA. Whether or not the T-50 ends up on the same level as the Raptor remains to be seen, however, and at any rate it is still at least a decade from squadron service. The only other foreign aircraft to come close to the level of the Raptor in terms of avionics and LO design is the penultimate European fighter design, the French Dassault Rafale. Rafale, however, isn't a true LO aircraft and as such would be at a disadvantage when facing a true LO opponent, be it a Raptor or a T-50. China has also been rumored to be working on the Chengdu J-XX (sometimes referred to as the J-14), but this is speculation for the most part as the only designs to appear in the open press are fanboy speculations representing everything from near-copies of the F-22A to amalgamations of the YF-23A and Mikoyan's Cold War ATF design, the 1.42.

Why should any nation seek out an aircraft with the capability of the Raptor? Raptor's advantage is a virtual guarantee of first-shot, first-kill thanks to an LPI AESA radar and a full-up LO design. This gives a massive and distinct advantage over a conventional aircraft in combat. With the continued proliferation of the latest iterations of the Russian Su-27 and Su-30 family, perhaps the penultimate example of a non-LO air superiority aircraft, the desire to attain an edge is easily justifiable by any nation which might be facing swarms of FLANKERs along its borders.

There are at least three nations interested in the F-22A. They are Japan, Australia, and Israel. Israel and Japan already operate the Raptor's American predecessor, McDonnell Douglas's F-15 Eagle. Official US policy is that the Raptor will not be available for export in the near future, but there are rumors coming out of Lockheed that this could change in 2008. This would be of great benefit to the US aerospace industry, as an increased Raptor production line brings in more revenue to the industry members involved in producing components for the highly advanced fighter. Increasing the number of Raptors being produced would also serve to reduce the unit costs, opening up the possibility of an increased buy of Raptors for the USAF. This may in fact turn out to be a driving force behind releasing the Raptor for export, provided enough orders can be secured to make a difference.

It should be pointed out that the Raptor is not cheap. The three interested parties would have to justify the purchase of such an expensive aircraft. Let's examine each nation's case for a Raptor buy.

1. Japan: Japan would seem to be the ideal match for an exported Raptor fleet. Their F-15Js will need replacing in the near future, and they will potentially be facing a Chinese military threat consisting of large numbers of various FLANKER variants, including the indigenously upgraded J-11B, and potentially a Raptor-class aircraft in the form of the J-XX/J-14. Obtaining the Raptor would allow the JASDAF to keep a qualitative edge over the PLAAF. A Japanese Raptor buy could easily reach 100, if the funding was authorized. Japan's self-defense posture and firm relationship with the United States would also mitigate the chances of vital technology falling into the hands of her neighbors, Russia and China.

2. Australia: Australia requires both an F-18A and an F-111C replacement. While the flawed Super Hornet has been mooted as a short-term solution to the F-18A replacement issue, that still leaves the matter of the F-111C. The F-111C is a long-range strike aircraft, not an air defense platform, and as such the F-35A would be a far more logical choice for the Royal Australian Air Force insofar as an Aardvark replacement is concerned. The F-35 will not be the cheapest aircraft either, and as such the RAAF would find an additional Raptor buy a hard sell in Parliament. There is the possibility of obtaining only the F-22A, but that would result in a significant decrease in combat capability, as the Raptor's air to surface weapons are limited to GPS aided munitions like the 1000 pound JDAM or the SDB. Australian aviation fan Carlo Kopp has claimed that there is a significant threat to Australia from China that must be addressed, and Kopp has often claimed that the Raptor would be an ideal fit for Australia to replace both the Hornet and the Aardvark. The truth of the matter is that there is no reason to believe that Chinese ALCM carriers or fighter swarms will be descending upon Australia anytime soon. Kopp has also trumped-up the Raptor's air-to-surface prowess, claiming that it has to be a good bomber since the USAF is replacing the F-117 with it. Unfortunately for him, the USAF is simply replacing one LO PGM carrier with another, and Kopp is ignoring the fact that the RAAF would lose Harpoon, AGM-142, and HARM capability by replacing their fighter fleet solely with Raptors. A Raptor might be able to take out surface targets, but not naval targets with any certainty (unless the phantom Chinese supercarrier fleet appears off the coast of Sydney). He mentions the capability gap in replacing the F-111C with the Super Hornet, so he does understand the concepts involved, but is unable to effectively utilize them in a coherent manner to make his argument for an RAAF Raptor buy. His ramblings aside, the "right" answer for Australia is the F-35, and that is only if they feel the need for an LO aircraft is justifiable.

3. Israel: Israel also covets the Raptor as a replacement for their F-15C fleet. They are already showing interest in the F-35 as well, to supplement and replace their F-16 fleet, so the Raptor would only be needed to serve in an air superiority role. Israel is already ahead of aviation fanboys like Carlo Kopp in that regard, insofar as sensible purchasing practices are cocnerned. The problem is that Israel does not need the Raptor. The main threat to Israel comes from various Arab air arms, none of whom will be featuring anything as advanced as even the F-35 in the future (Turkey will probably buy them, and Egypt may be cleared at some point down the road, but neither of them represent serious aggressors at the present). Syria's most advanced aircraft is the MiG-29. Iraq is no longer a threat in the air. Iran is busying itself making changes to the F-5 and passing them off as advanced fighters. The rest of the Arab states are not serious threats to Israel except on the political stage with regards to the Palestinian issue. So, Israel does not seem to need the F-22A. However, it can be argued that they don't need a good deal of what they end up procuring anyway, so they may still attempt to purchase the Raptor, if for no other reason then to show the Arabs that they have the best toys on the block. That being said, the United States would be seriously lax in its judgement if either the F-35 or the F-22 were sold to Israel. Israel remains a US ally only because of the strength of their lobbysits and a general feeling of guilt in the Western world, one which I must say is completely asinine and unfounded (how many British or American concentration camps were in operation during WWII? Zero? Thought so.) Israel has a substantial military relationship with China and as such has transferred a good deal of technology to the Communist state. The Chinese PL-8 is a license-built copy of the Israeli Python 3 AAM. The J-10 fighter jet shows a marked similarity to the cancelled Israeli Lavi fighter jet, an aircraft designed with American assistance and derived from the F-16. The list goes on, and there is no reason to expect that the Israelis won't do whatever they feel serves their own interests, including transferring technology from the F-22A to China...maybe in return for the new Chinese ASAT weapon, which could target Iranian satellties launched by Russia? If the USA feels that it just has to continue to deal with Israel (and for those of you keeping score in the Middle East Terrorist Bombing Olympics, retabulate your scores: the original terrorist bombers in the Middle East were Zionists in British-controlled Palestine), then it would be wise to ensure that its military edge is secured by not filtering critical technologies to China via Israel.

So who should be cleared to receive the F-22A? At one point a case could have been made for various European nations, but they went their own paths and developed the EF-2000, Gripen, and Rafale, so there is no real justification that can be made by any of their governments in support of a Raptor buy. The only logical fit for an export fleet of Raptors is Japan. Japan has the need, they have the money, and they have the political reliability. The United States would be wise to clear the Raptor for export to Japan. Bolstering the defensive capabilities of a key ally in the Pacific and potentially securing a larger Raptor fleet for home use are two significant advantages to exporting the Raptor to Japan. One can only hope that Lockheed's premonitions are accurate and that 2008 brings the first news of a Raptor sale to Japan.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Iranian Nukes and U.S. Middle Eastern Policy

By now everyone should be aware that Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons. If not, then you've been living under a rock for the past year or so, so you really need to get out more. It is Iranian long-range ICBMs that have precipitated the latest fit from Russia, after the United States decided that it would be a good idea to preemptively place anti-missile systems in Poland before Iran gets ICBM technology, after all.

Here's the problem: Iran has every right to possess nuclear weapons.

First off, Iran does not have a history of being overly belligerent in the Middle East during the modern era. Sure, they can talk a big game, but they rarely, if ever, walk the walk anyway. The last major Iranian military operation was against Iraq from 1980-1988, and that was in response to a war that Saddam Hussein started. There have been minor issues since then, but for the most part Iran has actually remained relatively peaceful militarily, with the exception of nonsensical political rantings put out by Ahmadinejad (who, in reality, has next to no real power over the government or military as he isn't a senior cleric).

As far as I'm concerned, a nuclear Iran wouldn't be the end of the world. In fact, a nuclear Iran could be turned into a valuable ally in the Middle East and force us to realign our foreign policy for that part of the world for the better. Face it, if Iran had nuclear arms, we'd have to actually engage them on some diplomatic level. It's in our best interests to foster a positive relationship with Iran.

Consider the following:

1. Iran wants nuclear power and nuclear wepaons. The USA agrees to aid Iran in the production of both, provided we are allowed to maintain on-site inspectors. This allows us to identify the characteristics of Iranian nuclear material. That way, we would be able to determine if a nuclear weapon was sourced in Iran, and if one was used against the United States, we would then detonate a nuclear device in Q'om in retaliation.

2. Nobody wants us over there, so pull all of our forces out of the Middle East, with the exception of a carrier battle group in the Gulf to ensure that the free passage of American merchant shipping and oil carriers is not interfered with. Democracy in the Middle East isn't important, the oil coming out of it is. That's the cold, hard reality of the situation. And if anyone else wants to ensure the safe passage of their own goods and oil, then they can take care of it themselves.

3. A withdrawl of US forces allows us to send them to places where it makes sense to send them, like Pakistan, to take down the corrupt regime that is harboring Al Qaeda and Taliban elements, and the US border with Mexico, to cut off the invasion of illegal noncombatants.

4. Keeping the US out of the Middle East will allow them to sort things out for themselves. We'll ensure that American oil gets through, but they can pretty much live life how they see fit otherwise. We have no real right to impose Western values or political beliefs on other nation states anyway. If Saudi Arabia wants to keep their women under wraps and deny them basic human rights, then that's their prerogative, and the responsibility of the people in their own society to effect any change they see fit, for example.

5. The big kicker: eliminate all US political and military support for the state of Israel. We get nothing from the relationship whatsoever. It's time to cut bait and let them take care of themselves, both in the Middle East and on the floor of the UN Security Council. No more free vetos, sorry. And no more wasted taxpayer dollars aiding a nation that likes to aid potential aggressors like China and Venezuela, sometimes by sharing American technology without our consent or approval. They made their bed in 1947, now let's see if they can really lie in it.

Take those actions, and our overall relationship with the governments of the oil-producing states and their Arab and Persian neighbors will, over time, improve dramatically. This will lead to an eventual lessening of the rampant Anti-Americanism that invades these societies and fuels suicide bombers and other idiots. But that leads me to the last point: blackmail. If this is going ot work, these nations need to understand that we will no longer tolerate any actions by their citizens against the United States under the banner of Islam. If we want to make a serious dent in Islamic extremism, we need to convince those nations to do something about it themselves. That requires motivation. The best way to do this? Put out a statement to the leaders of the nations in the Middle East calling for a complete end to militant Islamic attacks on American citizens and soldiers (the latter group being in the process of leaving the AOR anyway). The first time an American citizen is killed by a terrorist attack directed against the United States or it's interests such as an embassy on foreign soil (i.e. if a suicide bomber blows up a market in Tel Aviv and a vacationing American is killed, we would not be obligated to respond in this serious manner), we will put a missile into a madrassa. If it's okay for them to use religion against us, it's okay for us to use religion against them. Madrassas are where a lot of the religious education and the anti-Americanism stems from, so they are a valid target. We'd have to repeal the Laws of Armed Conflict, but that's a great idea in and of itself, as it would allow us to fight wars on the level of our enemies, transforming the US military complex into something that would actually be feared, acting as a much more credible deterrent. Really, anyone who goes into a war with one hand voluntarily tied behind their back deserves to get a beating, anyway.

And that, people, is how you get America out of the Middle East, keep the oil flowing, and put a serious dent in Islamic extremism as directed towards America and Americans. The rest of the world? They can figure it out for themselves. We're the evil Americans who aren't supposed to be interfering and imposing our will on the rest of the world, remember? All we're doing here is protecting our direct interests and our citizens, and leaving the rest of the region to handle its own affairs.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

China, Pakistan, and the FC-1

A few weeks or so ago, China delivered the first two FC-1 fighter jets to Pakistan. The FC-1, also known as the JF-17 to Pakistan, is a Chinese designed single-seat fighter jet. It's powered by a Russian-made engine and equipped with Chinese avionics and weapons (although the prospects of Pakistan incorporating Western kit isn't out of the question).

Now, the idea of Pakistan receiving a modern, lightweight fighter jet would seem to be ideal, as their air force is severely lacking in terms of quality equipment. Their current air arm relies mainly on comparitively ancient aircraft like the Mirage III, A-5 (a Chinese variation of Russia's MiG-19), and F-7 (a Chinese variation of Russia's MiG-21). Sure, they've tried to keep up appearances by continuing to operate a small fleet of early-block F-16As and upgrading their other aircraft with newer systems, but truth be told, the PAF has some serious shortfalls to address. Pakistan even lacks any sort of BVR AAM, internet propagandist spoutings to the contrary. So reequipping with a modern fighter would seem to be a logical step, given that Pakistan's main rival India has an air force festooned with modern high-performance aircraft (the Mirage 2000, MiG-29, and Su-30MKI, to name a few).

That all being said, the FC-1 is clearly viewed as an inferior product by Pakistan. If the FC-1 was a top-tier fighter jet, then why in the world would Pakistan be consistently pushing for the acquisition of more F-16s from the United States? FC-1 fanboys will allege that Pakistan wants to replace the old Mirages, A-5s, and J-1s with a mix of both FC-1s and F-16s. Okay, sure. Then why is Pakistan also trying to acquire China's other new fighter, the J-10? Do they want a three-jet fleet? Or is the J-10 intended to backstop a potential failure in the F-16 acquisition plans? Something is clearly amiss here. If the FC-1 was the superfighter that some Pakistani aviation fans would want you to believe, then why aren't they clamoring for more FC-1s in place of those F-16s? Or is Pakistan's infatuation with the F-16 just so intense that not even the vaunted FC-1 can break it down? But enough of that, let's examine some of the FC-1's current problems.

1-it has a limited weapons load, and to tote a large payload it needs to waste hardpoints with fuel tanks. This is somewhat curtailed by the fact that the FC-1 would not have to go very far to find its targets in or over India, however.

2-the FC-1's flying ability is at the mercy of Russia at the moment, given that Russian engines are used to power the aircraft (as of right now Russia is apparently turing a blind eye to China's re-export of said engines, but that could always change).

Then there's the issue of the FC-1's true effectiveness in combat on the subcontinent. Pakistan wants about 150 of them. Unfortunately for them, India is buying and license building a similar number of a true 4.5 Generation fighter jet, the Su-30MKI. TVC, a PESA, and a robust long-range weapons fit for both A/A and A/G combat make the Su-30MKI a world-class fighter jet, and pretty much hands air superiority over the subcontinent to the Indian Air Force, easily. Sure, people will argue that "the FC-1 is smaller so it'll be able to get really close before the Indian pilots see it". Wow. Ignorance reigns. As if it worked that way. By that logic, the B-2 should be really non-stealthy as it is rather expansive. Oh wait, it's not, claims by bitter anti-American internet ranters like Venik (who, amusingly enough, apparently lives in Philadelphia...) about Serbian B-2 shootdowns over the FRY notwithstanding. Read up on RCS, aspect angles, and PESA before assuming that just because Pakistan bought it it has to be just fabulous and the best of the best, geniuses. Lots of corner reflectors, external weapons carriage, and other features of the airframe make the FC-1 a pretty decent radar target. For that matter, they make the Su-30MKI a decent target as well, and then it comes down to avionics fit and weapons load, as well as pilot ability.

Let's put the whole force into perspective. You've got FC-1s and F-16s on one side, with Su-30MKIs, MiG-29s, MiG-21BISONs, and Mirage-2000s on the other. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to realize that it's not the numerical advantage that gives India the edge here. Inserting the FC-1 into this environment is foolhardy; the J-10 would be a far better option, being more capable of dealing effectively with other truly modern fighters. The J-10 is part of that peer group, while the FC-1 is the cheap alternative. So, if Pakistan wanted to make strides towards being able to actually combat the Indian Air Force, they need something better than the FC-1 and something more politically reliable than the F-16. That would be the J-10. They won't be able to match the IAF on a 1 for 1 basis, but they'll be far more capable than an FC-1 force would be. Of course, they could always plan on sticking to the nuclear deterrent option, in which case they could justify the cheaper FC-1 as merely attrition and life-cycle replacements for their older legacy aircraft. This of course is contingent on Pakistan's actual firing off of a nuclear weapon in the event of a conflict, otherwise they'd pretty much have had it. Not that they wouldn't go down if they did start lobbing nuclear weapons around, falling themselves under the Indian counterstrike, but at least in that case they'd take India down with them. That all depends on the fortitude of the leadership in Pakistan, I guess. They had no problem taking over the nation and harboring Al Qaeda and the Taliban after ENDURING FREEDOM though, so I would think they'd have no issues with unleashing a nuclear exchange.

Now, in reality, both India and Pakistan need to learn a thing or two about actual air defense. Neither one of them has a real air defense network. India has a small edge by having numerous S-125 SAM sites around major airbases, compared to Pakistan's solitary HQ-2 site in Islamabad. An actual air defense network with a few modern, long-range SAMs like the S-300PM-1 or HQ-9 would make a lot of difference and help even things out a bit, since Indian air combat aircraft would have a new issue to contend with beyond how many FC-1s they can shoot down at range.

Personally, I think China should just back off of the FC-1 project. Granted, the cheap FC-1 represents a potential export success as a J-7/MiG-21 replacement across the globe. But there are better options. For a little more cash, a nation could have China's real fighter jet, the J-10. Dropping the FC-1 would enable Chengdu, the FC-1 and J-10 manufacturer, to concentrate more on improving and perfecting the J-10. A mixed force of J-10s and various FLANKER iterations would be a very effective combat force to replace the older Q-5s, J-7s, and J-8s. The FC-1 just doesn't have a place in the PLAAF except as a token political buy to give faith to Pakistan and other export customers. If the PLAAF truly desires a short-range fighter for point defense, to replace the J-7, then the Hongdu L-15 supersonic trainer provides a far more logical basis. For one, it keeps another type out of your inventory, cleaning up your logistics. Also, it provides an export product to take the FC-1s export niche if foreign nations cannot afford the J-10.

Remember, the FC-1 is the final iteration of a US-Chinese project in the 1980's that would have modified and updated the J-7 design to feature a large nose radar and side-mounted intakes. Tianamen Square ended that partnership, and China turned to Russia for a time for advanced fighter jets, buying Su-27SK and Su-30MKK/MK2 aircraft. At some point the Chengdu team began work on the new design, possibly with help from Mikoyan, and the FC-1 was born. However, it still represents a sub-par fighter jet, clearly targeted for less propserous buyers who can't afford top-tier kit like the J-10. It might end up with a great avionics fit, and decent Chinese weapons, but the aircraft is still not on par with the rest of the world's latest fighter aircraft. Especially the J-10 and the Su-30MKI.

So, China should give up the ghost and drop the FC-1. Yes, they view Pakistan as an ally against India. But there are other products much more suited for Pakistan, like the HQ-9 long-range SAM and the J-10 fighter jet. But that's alright, Pakistan wanted to go for the inferior product, and that's their prerogative. Maybe they just don't have the revenue to make a large enough J-10 buy, what with their lack of recent exports of nuclear technology and their love affair with the F-16.

And really, why we want to sell F-16s to a nation that is clearly neither democratic nor an actual ally (have they rounded up the Al Qaeda and Taliban remnants in Waziristan? No? Sheesh...) is beyond me. We picked the wrong ally in that fight. Better to cut ties with Pakistan and move on to a better relationship with both India and China. Perhaps increased diplomatic and economic ties with both nations could lead to a mending of fences, helping to further isolate and marginalize Pakistan.

Until they start selling nuclear technology again, of course.

Russia vs. America, Take 2

1991: The USSR loses the Cold War, and collapses.
2007: Russia wants to start it all over again.

And you thought Ali-Frazier II was a titanic rematch.

Here's a story that doesn't get near enough play in the news (doesn't involve one missing American out of a few hundred million, I guess). Let me begin with some background info for the less-informed of you out there.

As many people know, the United States is developing a missile defense system to defend against a potential ICBM attack by a rogue state like Iran or North Korea. Sounds like a plan, right? Well, we had to pull out of the ABM Treaty to put missiles into Alaska to cover the North Korean angle, and that made the Russians kinda irate. Of course, we did pull out of the treaty legally, in accordance with Article XV (that's "fifteen"). The Russians were a little distressed, fearing that a massive ABM system buildup could lead to the United States gaining a first-strike capability. They must have forgotten that the Cold War was over and neglected to realize that the prospects of the USA ever raining an ICBM salvo down on Russia are pretty much nonexistant. They also must have forgotten that they violated the treaty back in the 70's and 80's by developing the S-225 mobile ABM system, but that's another story.

Fast forward to present day. North Korea has demonstrated, through a spectacular launch failure, that their rocket scientists are not exactly world-class. What do we do next with the ABM system? We look for other rogue states that are high on the "potential future problems" list. Number one on that list is Iran. So the next logical step was to defend against an Iranian ICBM. So, we have been discussing with Poland the idea of basing an ABM site with 10 missiles inside of Poland, to counter just that sort of threat from the Middle East. Now the Russians get REALLY testy. Why? Because they claim that the ABM system is really aimed at taking out their ICBM strike capability. And that, people, is where the flawed logic comes into play on an epic scale.

Let me start by stating that I will have an MS in Space Warfare in about three months, and that I have a professional knowledge of some of these concepts outside of that, so I am not another random American orating from his posterior. Oracles like that make ME irate. Moving on.

The system in place in Alaska and proposed for Poland is the GMD, or Ground-based Midcourse Defense system. It uses a hit-to-kill vehicle to intercept ICBMs (meaning it takes a small object and slams it really fast into the missile, leading to a large explosion) during their midcourse flight stage. This is the bulk of the missile's flightpath, where it is arcing towards the target, mostly outside of the Earth's atmosphere. Now, the GMD system is claimed to have a 3500 mile range. This is likely part of the cause of Russia's irateness. There are Russian SS-19 and SS-25 ICBM sites about 500 miles from the Polish border. Looks like they have a case, right?


First off, consider that a Russian ICBM fired at the United States will travel in a northwesterly direction to come in over Canada and strike its target. This means that any GMD vehicle will have to take out the ICBM with a tail-chase shot. Now, ICBMs travel around 15,000 mph. It's pretty much impossible for the GMD system to detect a launch, get a track established to compute an intercept, and successfully take down an ICBM in a tail-chase engagement due to the massive speeds involved. Yes, Mr. Skeptic, it won't be a PURE tail-chase shot, but the GMD interceptor will have to play catch-up the whole way, and that just isn't going to happen. 1. It's not physically possible for GMD to do that. 2. GMD wasn't designed to do that in the first place, it's designed for a head-on kill shot.

Secondly, the Russians and their fanboys like to state that placing GMD in Poland is obviously intended to take out Russian missiles because it is placed so close to Russian ICBM fields, and because it's just so darn far away from Iran. Wrong again. An Iranian ICBM fired from, say, the missile silos outside of Tabriz at 37 58' 18.66" N 46 10' 40.99" E (plug that into Google Earth!) and targeted on Washington, DC, will fly a distance of around 6,000 miles. And, oh wow, will likely pass within fifty miles of the Polish capital of Warsaw if it's a straight shot, give or take a little for the deviation due to the Earth's rotation. The whole GMD in Poland thing now makes a lot more sense! You can detect a launch, set up a track, and engage with the GMD system in a nice, head-on fashion, even if the Iranian weapon takes a path a few thousand miles off to one side or the other. There went that argument. As for why isn't the system placed closer to Iran, well, you want to give yourself enough time to set up an accurate track to make sure you have optimum parameters for the intercept. Putting this thing in Turkey, for example, means you get to probably deal with the whole tail-chase concept again, which we already know isn't going to work.

So, despite the logic that says otherwise, Russia has decided to view the GMD system being placed in Poland as a threat. Their response? Talk about pulling out of treaties, developing new weapons, and whatnot. They even rebuffed Bush's idea of a joint missile defense system. Looks to me like they're determined to find an enemy to justify increased defense expenditures, but that's just me. At any rate, we're likely going to head down the road to another arms race and potentially another Cold War if cooler heads don't prevail.

Now, opponents also claim that this must be directed towards Russia as Iran has no ICBM capability as of yet. The thing is, they view the United States as a threat, and probably rightfully so. They are continuing to develop longer-ranged missiles, as is their right. If they really want to hit the USA, they need an ICBM, and there is no reason to assume they won't keep going until they get one. In this case, the United States is taking a preemptive defensive action. If Poland goes for it, there is nothing wrong with the idea. Just as Iran has the right to develop weapons, we have the right to defend ourselves. And come on people, be serious for a moment. Waiting until your enemy has a new weapon to decide to defend against it is asinine. Sometimes you have no other choice but to act in that manner. This isn't one of those times, and as such, given the preponderance of evidence that the system won't work against Russian ICBMs and the fact that America has no desire to start a nuclear war with Russia, placing GMD in Poland is the right course of action.