Uncertainties in Building a Strategic Defense

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Science  27 Mar 1987:
Vol. 235, Issue 4796, pp. 1600-1606
DOI: 10.1126/science.235.4796.1600


Building a strategic defense against nuclear ballistic missiles involves complex and uncertain functional, spatial, and temporal relations. Such a defensive system would evolve and grow over decades. It is too complex, dynamic, and interactive to be fully understood initially by design, analysis, and experiments. Uncertainties exist in the formulation of requirements and in the research and design of a defense architecture that can be implemented incrementally and be fully tested to operate reliably. The analysis and measurement of system survivability, performance, and cost-effectiveness are critical to this process. Similar complexities exist for an adversary's system that would suppress or use countermeasures against a missile defense. Problems and opportunities posed by these relations are described, with emphasis on the unique characteristics and vulnerabilities of space-based systems.

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