Wow, can the U.S. ballistic missile defense system possibly be any more ridiculous?

On Sunday the DoD launched a “mock warhead” from Alaska and prepared to fire an interceptor to shoot it out of the sky. This, presumably, is intended to show that if the North Koreans or Chinese or whoever managed to launch a warhead from Alaska that was transmitting its location via GPS and using a well-calculated path, we could take it out.

The interceptor didn’t launch. It sat quietly on the launch pad while the warhead continued happily on its course to wiping out the population of Seattle or whatever. (Of course, in reality the warhead splashed into the Pacific Ocean and knocked out a whale.)

Oops, scratch another $85 million dollar test. The previous one, last December, also failed. The best quote I’ve seen about this mess is:

“Preliminary indications pointed to a problem with the missile’s ground support equipment, rather than the missile itself, which was good news for the program, said Rick Lehner, a spokesman for the agency. ‘There is no indication that there is anything wrong with the actual interceptor,’ said Lehner.”

I’m not the world’s brightest guy, but when ol’ Rick says gleefully that nothing’s wrong with the actual interceptor, I can’t help but note that even if that’s true, the fact that it didn’t get off the ground means the missile defense program isn’t all that useful. We might have a whole legion of really great interceptors– just waiting for Kim Jong II to try something– but when they sit all nice and snug on their launch pads, I guess it’s sayonara Seattle.

The whole program is, of course, ill-conceived in the extreme. Of the nine tests, four have failed… and those that succeeded did so under laughably unrealistic circumstances. The target warheads used highly reflective balloons so they’d be visible, they broadcast their position so the interceptor would know where to go, and of course they were launched from a known location along a known path. Give me a break– this is cheating so badly it’s hard to express.

The only bright light I see is that the Pentagon “slashed” funding from $50 billion to a mere $45 billion. I’m so happy the check I’ll be sending to the IRS in April will help contribute to such a worthy cause.