Author Topic: Chinese military conducts anti-ship missile tests in hotly contested SCS  (Read 5345 times)

adroth

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Chinese military conducts anti-ship missile tests in hotly contested South China Sea
The numerous overlapping sovereign claims to islands and reefs have turned the South China Sea into an armed camp. Beijing now has 27 outposts in the sea.
July 1, 2019, 2:14 PM PDT
By Amanda Macias, CNBC and Courtney Kube

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/china/chinese-military-conducts-anti-ship-missile-tests-hotly-contested-south-n1025456

WASHINGTON — China has been conducting a series of anti-ship ballistic missile tests in the hotly contested waters of the South China Sea, according to two U.S. officials with knowledge of the matter.

The Chinese carried out the first test over the weekend, firing off at least one missile into the sea, one official said. The window for testing remains open until July 3, and the official expects the Chinese military to test again before it closes.

While the U.S. military has ships in the South China Sea, they were not close to the weekend test and are not in danger, the official said, adding that the test however is "concerning." The official, who was not authorized to speak about the testing, could not say whether the anti-ship missiles being tested represent a new capability for the Chinese military.

The Pentagon did not immediately respond to CNBC's and NBC's requests for comment.

< Edited >

adroth

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PH to conduct own probe on China's 'missile test' off WPS
By Priam Nepomuceno  July 3, 2019, 1:53 pm Share

https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1073947

MANILA -- The Philippines will conduct its own inquiry on China's alleged anti-ship ballistic missile launches off the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea), Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Wednesday.

"We have no first-hand knowledge about this missile launch except this news report. We will conduct our own inquiry and will decide later what to do if proven correct," Lorenzana said in a message to reporters.

Per reports, the tests took place last weekend with China warning ships not to approach the test area.

At least one missile was reportedly fired into the sea. (PNA)

sirius

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"We have no first-hand knowledge about this missile launch except this news report. We will conduct our own inquiry and will decide later what to do if proven correct," Lorenzana said in a message to reporters.

This is troubling. Does the Philippines not have any early warning radar to detect ballistic missile launches?

adroth

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"We have no first-hand knowledge about this missile launch except this news report. We will conduct our own inquiry and will decide later what to do if proven correct," Lorenzana said in a message to reporters.

This is troubling. Does the Philippines not have any early warning radar to detect ballistic missile launches?

The missile tests were arguably short-range missile tests of either anti-ship or anti-aircraft missiles. Will be interesting to see if the US will share whatever data it collected.

As ballistic missiles, radars can — theoretically — detect at least the terminal phase of the flight. But unless your setup like Iron Dome, not much you do about it.

sirius

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"We have no first-hand knowledge about this missile launch except this news report. We will conduct our own inquiry and will decide later what to do if proven correct," Lorenzana said in a message to reporters.

This is troubling. Does the Philippines not have any early warning radar to detect ballistic missile launches?

The missile tests were arguably short-range missile tests of either anti-ship or anti-aircraft missiles. Will be interesting to see if the US will share whatever data it collected.

As ballistic missiles, radars can — theoretically — detect at least the terminal phase of the flight. But unless your setup like Iron Dome, not much you do about it.

Have to wait for more info, but they may have tested the DF-21/DF-26 although China denies that it did.

There are radars that can detect ballistic missiles in the boost and mid course phases, so if Philippines doesn't have this capability, it is alarming. Is the Philippines really at the mercy of some AEGIS ship being around? I really hope it was just short range/cruise missiles being tested and not China being able to test ballistic missiles capable of hitting the Philippines without them knowing about it.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2019, 03:03:21 AM by sirius »

adroth

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There are radars that can detect ballistic missiles in the boost and mid course phases, so if Philippines doesn't have this capability, it is alarming.

This point needs clarification.

The curvature of the earth means that it is IMPOSSIBLE for a conventional ground based radar to actually see the boost phase and most of the mid-course phase. We only recently operationalized these systems so our capability is limited to the the terminal phase at this point.

From a sanctioned 580th Aircraft Control & Warning Wing video

https://www.facebook.com/Bulldog.434.Cliffhanger/videos/vb.1261858335/10214244002994960/?type=3



There are Over-The-Horizon radars in existence, but very few countries them them. The US, Australia, China, Russia are examples. The Philippines does not, and we actually had a discussion about the viability of acquiring one here:

http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=1042.0

What our neighbors are doing. Australian OTH: Jindalee Operational Radar Network (JORN)




China's OTH

https://thetaiwanlink.blogspot.com/2009/12/pla-air-force-over-horizon-radar.html

A key element is believed to be a skywave over the horizon (OTH) radar. In November 2008, Sean O'Connor posted a great analysis of the OTH radar system and its role in an ASBM program on his IMINT & Analysis website, . . .



Note that OTH radars are notoriously unreliable, since their use depends on having the right atmospheric conditions. So relying on them for something as short as missile launch is . . . really just best-effort.

Countries that can detect the the boot and mid-course phases either use satellites or very-high flying reconnaissance assets (e.g., Global Hawk, etc.). The PH does not have that capability at this time.

The US Navy, Japan, and South Korea have signed on to the US' sea-based anti-ballistic missile network by having Aegis-system equipped ships that can be deployed at sea -- closer to potential launch sites -- and detect missiles in the mid-course phase as they are on the way and potentially intercept them that way. The PH is not party to such partnerships.

http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=641.msg8504#msg8504


« Last Edit: July 09, 2019, 06:55:33 AM by adroth »

sirius

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I don't disagree with any of the above, except for the statement that it is impossible for ground based radar to detect ballistic missiles prior to the terminal phase. This most certainly has been possible since the Cold War. And there are modern ship based systems other than AEGIS which are capable of ballistic missile detection as well.

While I would agree it's unfair to hold Philippines to the same standard as the US or Russia, or even Japan, I appreciate the information on the Philippines efforts to fill the radar gap, which I hope gets filled soon.

(as an aside, is there a way to embed youtube videos here?)

adroth

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except for the statement that it is impossible for ground based radar to detect ballistic missiles prior to the terminal phase.

Here is why it is impossible. The curvature of the Earth is the issue. This limitation is what is referred to as line-of-sight. A conventional radar can see what's at the horizon and above it. If the ballistic missile is over the horizon, all we can see is what's coming over the horizon -- so we will never see the launch phase and will miss much of the mid-course phase.




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This most certainly has been possible since the Cold War.

The link you provided above is actually an article about the Over-The-Horizon (OTH) radars that I mentioned in my previous post. The these are NOT conventional radars.

Here's a example of what an OTH system like Australia's Jindalee looks like

https://defpost.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Jindalee-Operational-Radar-Network-JORN.jpg




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And there are modern ship based systems other than AEGIS which are capable of ballistic missile detection as well.

I never said AEGIS was the only system.

The key take away from my sharing the use of AEGIS was how ground-based radars can still be used for mid-course correction by BEING AT SEA, and closer to the launch point for the missile. They phased array radars used in AEGIS are not OTH systems and are still subject to the line-of-sight limitations of conventional radars.
« Last Edit: July 10, 2019, 09:22:29 AM by adroth »

sirius

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except for the statement that it is impossible for ground based radar to detect ballistic missiles prior to the terminal phase.

Here is why it is impossible. The curvature of the Earth is the issue. This limitation is what is referred to as line-of-sight. A conventional radar can see what's at the horizon and above it. If the ballistic missile is over the horizon, all we can see is what's coming over the horizon -- so we will never see the launch phase and will miss much of the mid-course phase.



Right, but radar horizon can be bypassed with skywave propagation, the same technique radio operators use to get signals to travel long distances. Obviously there is a lot more work to do with radar to get usable information, but suffice to say although radar horizon presents an obstacle, it is not insurmountable.

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This most certainly has been possible since the Cold War.

The link you provided above is actually an article about the Over-The-Horizon (OTH) radars that I mentioned in my previous post. The these are NOT conventional radars.

Here's a example of what an OTH system like Australia's Jindalee looks like

https://defpost.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Jindalee-Operational-Radar-Network-JORN.jpg



OK, I think I see what's going on here. You are making a distinction between line of sight and over the horizon radar whereas I am not, and did not in my original post.

I'm not really interested in confusing the issue by arguing semantics/nomenclature. The bottom line is, there are radars that exist that can detect ballistic missiles prior to the terminal phase and it would not exactly some exotic technology that makes it unobtainable for the Philippines, especially given the current situation. I guess it's just a matter of how they want to prioritize acquiring such a system, though I would argue that not being included under the American BMD umbrella makes it more of a priority than not.

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And there are modern ship based systems other than AEGIS which are capable of ballistic missile detection as well.

I never said AEGIS was the only system.

The key take away from my sharing the use of AEGIS was how ground-based radars can still be used for mid-course correction by BEING AT SEA, and closer to the launch point for the missile. They phased array radars used in AEGIS are not OTH systems and are still subject to the line-of-sight limitations of conventional radars.

I didn't say you said AEGIS was the only system. I was just pointing out there are options other than buying American for ballistic missile detection capabilities. Also, being at sea isn't an absolute requirement, Japan opted to use AEGIS Ashore over THAAD.  That being said, apart from money (yes, not a trivial thing), there's no reason an island country shouldn't look to improving sea based radar as well.

I hope these posts aren't sounding contentious as that's certainly not my intention. I don't think we're even in disagreement over the facts, but the importance of different details.

Let me ask you for the sake of discussion, when should the Philippines look to acquire the ability to detect ballistic missile launches? 5 years? 10 years? 20 years? Never? What's the most prudent way to obtain this ability? Acquiring a system from abroad? Developing the indigenous electronics industry? Asking Uncle Sam to let you in?

adroth

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Here is the issue.

OK, I think I see what's going on here. You are making a distinction between line of sight and over the horizon radar whereas I am not, and did not in my original post.

I'm not really interested in confusing the issue by arguing semantics/nomenclature. The bottom line is, there are radars that exist that can detect ballistic missiles prior to the terminal phase and it would not exactly some exotic technology that makes it unobtainable for the Philippines, especially given the current situation. I guess it's just a matter of how they want to prioritize acquiring such a system, though I would argue that not being included under the American BMD umbrella makes it more of a priority than not.

It IS exotic. That's why I was emphasized the distinction between "conventional" and OTH radars.

The countries that actually have Over-The-Horizon radars actually often developed it themselves (Taiwan is an exception). Look up OTH radars yourself. They require VERY large tracts of land for the system to work. Even when it does work . . . its reliability has reportedly been questionable because of variability of atmospheric conditions.

The research shared earlier actually point to the original body of research assembled on the forum a few years ago. Check it out.

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being at sea isn't an absolute requirement, Japan opted to use AEGIS Ashore over THAAD

That’s a terminal phase system.

Quote
Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) is a transportable system that intercepts ballistic missiles inside or outside the atmosphere during their final, or terminal, phase of flight.

https://missilethreat.csis.org/system/thaad/

Note that the Japanese Atago and Kongo class cruisers are their first line of defense that are meant to engage North Korean missiles earlier in their flight — potentially in the mid-course phase — by being closer to potential launch sites.

I don't think we're even in disagreement over the facts, but the importance of different details.

Our disagreement is in the importance of those details :-)

The devil is in the details man, and to lump all radars together into one category is actually no different from how the press lumps every vehicle with tracks as a "tank", or how any aircraft with a propeller is a WWII-era "Tora-Tora".

Lots of points are missed, and lots of context lost.

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Let me ask you for the sake of discussion, when should the Philippines look to acquire the ability to detect ballistic missile launches? 5 years? 10 years? 20 years? Never? What's the most prudent way to obtain this ability? Acquiring a system from abroad? Developing the indigenous electronics industry? Asking Uncle Sam to let you in?

That is a VERY broad question whose scope needs further definition.

- What sort of missiles?
- What range?
- Launched from where?
- Directed at what?

Answers to the questions would determine if the solutions already shared above are sufficient, or whether alternative measures are required (e.g., space-based system which is actually what the US uses to detect the missile launches themselves, long-endurance high-altitude UAVs of the
GlobalHawk variety, AWACS, etc.)

As for developing technologies in-house, the following older discussions would be good to revisit:

Creating a Philippine equivalent to DARPA/DAPA/DSTO and an SRDP roadmap

Sustainable weapons manufacture
« Last Edit: July 11, 2019, 02:03:12 AM by adroth »

adroth

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Here's an idea of how much these OTH systems can cost

Taiwan’s Massive, Mega-Powerful Radar System Is Finally Operational

THIS WEIRD, SLOPED 10-story green building gives the tiny island nation of Taiwan something that it’s wanted for 15 years: early warning of ballistic missiles and warplanes launched from over 3,000 miles away.

For Taiwan, it’s a must-have. Neighboring China has over a thousand ballistic and cruise missiles pointed at it. Once launched, the missiles will slam onto the breakaway Chinese province within 10 minutes. Taiwan needs as much early warning as humanly possible if those missiles ever reach the air.

This 105-foot system is about as advanced as early-warning radar arrays get. Known as PAVE PAWS, for Phased Array Warning System, the slopes of the building shown above are huge antennas built into the facade. Unlike a mechanical antenna, you don’t have to physically aim a phased-array early warning system, as its “beam steering” is done electronically. The system creates a 240-degree virtual eye, allowing Taiwan to see deep into China, and even into Japan and North Korea. Only a handful of countries — the U.S., Russia, maybe China itself — have this kind of early-warning system.

It’s very, very valuable to Taiwan. Constructed on the top of a mountain in the country’s north, the Raytheon-built system cost approximately $1.4 billion.

< Edited >

=====



mamiyapis

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The answer to launch and boost phase detection of ballistic missile detection is a pretty complicated one. In the US' case, it involves several overlapping radar and satellite detection systems that have been in place since the 1970s and even as far back as the late 60s for some(although those have already been replaced, same for the 70s and 80s deployed equipment).

US BMD detection uses the following systems for early warning and detection:

1. OTH radars - these are huge radars that use T/R antenna fields measuring in the acres/hectares. They employ atmospheric bounce and very high compute power to pull data from an otherwise highly cluttered radar picture caused by atmospheric interference. These are very exotic and are unlikely to be sold even to close allies. Australia developed their own OTH radar with some US assistance and they have one of the most recent OTH systems in the Western world.

2. Satellite Detection - another system in place since the Cold War are the satellite detection systems that have been continuously launched and replaced since the said era. These are what constitute the true "Launch Phase" detection of the BMEWS /PAVE PAWS/SSPARS early warning and detection system of the US... well this and their AEWACS aircraft which are constantly patrolling near Russian and other airspace for detection of ballistic missile threats. But safe to say the satellites are the most definitive detection system in play, with geosynchronous and geostationary orbits, they use various sensors(optical, IR, hyperspectral, radar, etc) to stare at launch sites and potential mobile launchers to "see" if the potential enemy is gearing up for launch.

3. Surface-based Radar Stations - while these are indeed capable of detecting ballistic missile launches, the job of radars like SSPARS is to see missiles in Late/Ascent/Post-Boost Phase should the other sensors miss them. Using huge land-based solid state phased array radars constantly being updated since the 60s, and housed in geographically advantageous sites around the world(Greenland, the UK, Alaska and the Aleutians, as well as several in the continental US). Notice I said surface-based rather than land-based? This is because the US Navy also employs forward deployed floating X-band radar bases as well as coverage from their AEGIS destroyers, C2 ships, as well as their aircraft-based detection systems. However the Navy detection systems come into play more in the Ascent/Post-Boost and Midcourse Phases of a ballistic missile launch. This is why BMD missiles employed by AEGIS systems often intercept at very high altitudes of the ASCENT phase and only work if early detection at launch or boost was achieved.

4. Airborne Early Warning Systems - again the US has multiple systems in play for this to happen, namely AEW&C aircraft like the E-3 Sentry and E-2 Hawleye, as well as HALE drones like GlobalHawk. These aircraft however need to be flying at the right altitude and right times to be able to detect a boost-phase launch. They still rely in early satellite detection of launch prep to be able to get up and the air and begin monitoring possible launch attempts.


So... if the Philippines really wanted BM detection, it would very quickly become either an expensive exercise where we buy/develop tracking satellites, OTH, and very powerful SSPARS radars to cover missile threats or one wherein we allow/ask Uncle Sam to establish a specific SSPARS/UEWS radar site in the country in exchange for the ability to detect early those said launches.

adroth

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Thanks Mr. M.  :)

So... if the Philippines really wanted BM detection, it would very quickly become either an expensive exercise where we buy/develop tracking satellites, OTH, and very powerful SSPARS radars to cover missile threats

As shown in the Taiwan PAVE PAWs example, focusing on BDM alone would already would take up pretty much the entire AFP modernization budget

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. . .  or one wherein we allow/ask Uncle Sam to establish a specific SSPARS/UEWS radar site in the country in exchange for the ability to detect early those said launches.

The political ramifications, both domestically and with our kleptomaniac neighbor, will be interesting.

sirius

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Here is the issue.

OK, I think I see what's going on here. You are making a distinction between line of sight and over the horizon radar whereas I am not, and did not in my original post.

I'm not really interested in confusing the issue by arguing semantics/nomenclature. The bottom line is, there are radars that exist that can detect ballistic missiles prior to the terminal phase and it would not exactly some exotic technology that makes it unobtainable for the Philippines, especially given the current situation. I guess it's just a matter of how they want to prioritize acquiring such a system, though I would argue that not being included under the American BMD umbrella makes it more of a priority than not.

It IS exotic. That's why I was emphasized the distinction between "conventional" and OTH radars.

The countries that actually have Over-The-Horizon radars actually often developed it themselves (Taiwan is an exception). Look up OTH radars yourself. They require VERY large tracts of land for the system to work. Even when it does work . . . its reliability has reportedly been questionable because of variability of atmospheric conditions.

The research shared earlier actually point to the original body of research assembled on the forum a few years ago. Check it out.

Maybe 30 years ago it was exotic. You keep citing the fact that few countries developed it as if it's some kind of forbidden fruit that only the enlightened can obtain. But I think the reason most countries don't have it are for the following reasons: 1) they already fall under some BMD umbrella 2) They don't have an adversary that presents a realistic ballistic threat 3) They can't afford to have it

I don't think the situation is quite as dire as Taiwan, but the way things seem to be going, I almost feel that the Philippines can't afford NOT to have some kind of early warning system in place.

Quote
Quote
being at sea isn't an absolute requirement, Japan opted to use AEGIS Ashore over THAAD

That’s a terminal phase system.

Quote
Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) is a transportable system that intercepts ballistic missiles inside or outside the atmosphere during their final, or terminal, phase of flight.

https://missilethreat.csis.org/system/thaad/

Note that the Japanese Atago and Kongo class cruisers are their first line of defense that are meant to engage North Korean missiles earlier in their flight — potentially in the mid-course phase — by being closer to potential launch sites.

You must have misread. I was talking about AEGIS ashore. Not THAAD. Not the shipborne AEGIS.

Quote
Our disagreement is in the importance of those details :-)

The devil is in the details man, and to lump all radars together into one category is actually no different from how the press lumps every vehicle with tracks as a "tank", or how any aircraft with a propeller is a WWII-era "Tora-Tora".

Lots of points are missed, and lots of context lost.

For context, I am an American, and I could never imagine not knowing that a missile was launched at me until it hit. This is the whole reason I'm in this discussion in the first place, I'm curious... how are Filipinos able to tolerate this? Is it just because they're too busy in their day to day lives to worry about it? During the Cold War, when a defecting MiG-25 was able to penetrate deep into Japanese territory before they knew about it, it became a priority to make sure that could not happen again. I just found it shocking that a missile could be fired and the Philippines can be like "We didn't even know it happened, hopefully we found out what actually happened"

Quote
Quote
Let me ask you for the sake of discussion, when should the Philippines look to acquire the ability to detect ballistic missile launches? 5 years? 10 years? 20 years? Never? What's the most prudent way to obtain this ability? Acquiring a system from abroad? Developing the indigenous electronics industry? Asking Uncle Sam to let you in?
That is a VERY broad question whose scope needs further definition.

- What sort of missiles?
- What range?
- Launched from where?
- Directed at what?

Answers to the questions would determine if the solutions already shared above are sufficient, or whether alternative measures are required (e.g., space-based system which is actually what the US uses to detect the missile launches themselves, long-endurance high-altitude UAVs of the
GlobalHawk variety, AWACS, etc.)

As for developing technologies in-house, the following older discussions would be good to revisit:

Creating a Philippine equivalent to DARPA/DAPA/DSTO and an SRDP roadmap

Sustainable weapons manufacture

I appreciate this response.

Quote
1. OTH radars - these are huge radars that use T/R antenna fields measuring in the acres/hectares. They employ atmospheric bounce and very high compute power to pull data from an otherwise highly cluttered radar picture caused by atmospheric interference. These are very exotic and are unlikely to be sold even to close allies. Australia developed their own OTH radar with some US assistance and they have one of the most recent OTH systems in the Western world.

Come on now... Duga had computers that used punch cards for crying out loud. Let's stop pretending like this is some kind of forbidden knowledge. If Philippines can't even manage technology at early cold war standards, then I don't know what to say. I understand the land argument but... Philippines can't find land for ballistic missile radar, but they'll find land for 10 more mega malls.

(not an argument, just a cynical joke.)

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As shown in the Taiwan PAVE PAWs example, focusing on BDM alone would already would take up pretty much the entire AFP modernization budget

This is like saying it's impossible to move from the spot where I am standing because I can't afford a Ferrari. I'm not saying that the Philippines should be able to intercept missiles with a high probability by tomorrow. I just think at a minimum, being able to know that a ballistic missile has been launched by an enemy at the Philippines is an important thing to work towards.

Quote
The political ramifications, both domestically and with our kleptomaniac neighbor, will be interesting.

Indeed.


adroth

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Maybe 30 years ago it was exotic.

Then the issue is your definition of "exotic".

By definition, that which is exotic is "strikingly, excitingly, or mysteriously different or unusual"

Note your follow up below.

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But I think the reason most countries don't have it are for the following reasons: 1) they already fall under some BMD umbrella 2) They don't have an adversary that presents a realistic ballistic threat 3) They can't afford to have it

Note that you never disputed the fact that OTH radars were NOT common place. Thus actually affirming the fact that they were not common . . . thus not conventional . . .

. . . consequently, you actually agree with us that they are EXOTIC by their very nature.

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For context, I am an American, and I could never imagine not knowing that a missile was launched at me until it hit. This is the whole reason I'm in this discussion in the first place, I'm curious... how are Filipinos able to tolerate this? Is it just because they're too busy in their day to day lives to worry about it? During the Cold War, when a defecting MiG-25 was able to penetrate deep into Japanese territory before they knew about it, it became a priority to make sure that could not happen again. I just found it shocking that a missile could be fired and the Philippines can be like "We didn't even know it happened, hopefully we found out what actually happened"

The Philippines has been unable to enforce the Philippine Air Defense Identification Zone for decades. That is just a fact.

We didn't begin to re-acquire aerial domain awareness till we acquired the ELM- 2288 in 2015.

Not all Philippine airports have both Primary and Secondary search radars. Not all airports even have Secondary search radars that can really only identify aircraft that voluntarily broadcast transponder information.

The National Coast Watch Center, which serves as the nerve center for maritime domain awareness didn't go online till 2015 as well, and finally centralized data input from the surface search radar stations that were installed -- incrementally -- since 2005. Initially in the porous southern border, and now slowly in other parts of the country. Even then, not all major Philippine ports have Vessel Traffic Management Systems.

THIS country has a long way to go to deal with basic threats. Use that context to address your "shock"

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This is like saying it's impossible to move from the spot where I am standing because I can't afford a Ferrari. I'm not saying that the Philippines should be able to intercept missiles with a high probability by tomorrow. I just think at a minimum, being able to know that a ballistic missile has been launched by an enemy at the Philippines is an important thing to work towards.

Once you rethink your definition of "exotic", combined with the context above, then you will have your answer.