In December 1998, the Russians announced they had won a U.S. Navy missile contract that, according to the U.S. Navy, has not been issued yet. The contract request for proposals is not to be issued until May 1999. The
project is to provide high-speed target drones to simulate very high-speed cruise missile attacks against American warships.
According to the Russians, 28 percent of any sale will go directly to the Kremlin generals. According to the Russian missile maker, Zvezda, the remaining profits will fund new upgrades to the weapon version of the same target drone. Zvezda has openly offered the weapon version, called the Kh-31, to Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Libya.
Operation “Desert Fox” forced Russia to withdraw her ambassadors from London and Washington. Recent statements from the Russian generals, published in Jane’s Defense, note that military concerns over technology transfers to America have killed the Kh-31 sale. The military fears and breaking of diplomatic contacts have put the Russian-U.S. contract on hold and highlighted the illogical decision to depend on Moscow for advanced weapons.
The Kh-31 deal is all but dead, and the Navy is rapidly running out of targets to test multi-billion dollar defenses. The Navy created its own missile gap and perhaps its own new threat. The U.S. Navy stated to Congress they needed some Russian missiles, because there were not enough leftover American-made missiles to convert into target drones.
Yet, according to the American contractor, there are 30 leftover
missiles waiting to be converted!
The Navy never spent the funds allocated by Congress to buy them. Navy officials have yet to explain themselves despite promising an answer to congressional questions by the end of November.
The American missile maker has worked closely with the Navy since 1944. In fact, highly trained engineers in several American companies were anxious to produce more advanced targets and win a fair contract.
Frustrated by politics, the American company that built the previous Navy target drones will now permanently close operations by the end of January, 1999. No more U.S. engineers. No more U.S. defense infrastructure, and no more Aegis tests.
Why do the Russians think they won a contract not yet issued?
American companies were shut out from the project in an eager effort to please Zvezda’s U.S. based lobbyist-lawyers who support Al Gore for president. The Kh-31 deal was not done in a fair-and-open contract but behind closed doors. The Navy did not tell the truth about the status of current inventories and was forced to select the Russian missile by White House politics.
The decision to depend on Russia for a critical part of our defense technology came from the White House. Zvezda is backed by D.C. lobbyist Cassidy Associates. Cassidy Associates also traveled with Ron Brown on trade missions. Cassidy Associates sent a Maely Tom, a Democratic National Committee, to the Far East on a Ron Brown trade mission. The same mission included DNC donors John Huang, Charlie Trie, Pauline Kanchanalak and Nora Lum.
The U.S. Navy is now facing a missile crisis. No more advanced targets means a hold on software and hardware upgrades to our Aegis missile systems. No more targets means that crews will not be trained against the very real threat of cruise missile attacks. Navy ship defenses will rapidly degrade over the next few years until they can be tested again.
History has shown that U.S. Navy warships are vulnerable to attack from modern cruise missiles. The USS Stark was heavily damaged by an Iraqi attack with a French missile during the Reagan administration. The Royal Navy lost the HMS Sheffield to an Exocet missile during the Falklands war.
Yet, the flying robot bomb is not new. Winston Churchill wrote of the “pilotless” war in 1944. “The advent of the long-range, jet-propelled projectile has opened up vast new possibilities in the conduct of military operations.”
“In future the possession of superiority in long-distance rocket artillery may well count for as much superiority in naval or air power,” wrote Churchill. “High grade scientific and engineering staff, together with extensive research facilities, will have to be maintained as a permanent part of our peace-time military organization.”
The rain of V-1 “buzz-bombs” and later “V-2” missiles began on June 13, 1944. The first citizens to die in a robot war were in London.
Winston Churchill wrote “The blind impersonal nature of the missile made the individual on the ground helpless. There was little that he could do, no human enemy he could see shot down.”
Since 1944 mankind has lived with the robot bombs, one winged and the other a rocket. The addition of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, carried to any spot on earth with unerring accuracy, has made missile warfare more dangerous than ever. A single missile equipped with the right warhead could destroy not one city block but an entire city.
Today, our “V-1” Tomahawk is trying to destroy the Iraqi “V-2” SCUD missile. U.S. warships launch strike after strike of Tomahawks against Iraq from far out at sea.
Aegis is our Navy surface fleet defense. Aegis is the shield behind which America fights the robot war against Saddam. Without that shield our fighting men and women will be sitting ducks.
The U.S. Navy will now have to send ships with untested weapons and untrained crews into combat. A single Aegis cruiser costs over $2 billion, and that is before it is outfitted with weapons and crews. Clearly, the Clinton administration has not maintained our necessary permanent, peace-time scientific and engineering capability.
The price for the president’s foolish actions will be sunken American warships and dead sailors. It is, however, characteristic of this administration to enter into a deal that pays off foreign Generals and enhances the very same weapons that face our armed forces from a dozen client states.
Ironically, the price of the entire Navy target program amounts to less than $100 million. The federal government spent twice that on the first night of “Desert Fox” and almost as much studying the sexual habits of President Clinton as if he were some rare and endangered species of fish.
There will, however, be something more endangered, though, in the near future: American ships going into harm’s way and surviving.