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Hyping The Missile Threat?

Wired’s Danger Room blog caught Deputy Secretary of Defense William Lynn using some questionable examples while explaining to Congress the “hybrid threats” facing the United States:

In a speech yesterday on missile defense, Deputy Secretary of Defense William Lynn talked about a “new and more complex era of hybrid threats” in which potential U.S. adversaries might combine high-tech and low-tech tools to mount a surprise attack. And to make his point, he drew on a history lesson: German plans during World War II to develop a longer-range version of the A4 ballistic missile, better known as the V-2 rocket (pictured here in postwar testing).

“Had the war lasted longer,” Lynn said, “The Wehrmacht may have been able to hit New York.”

Lynn then made an intriguing reference to another secret Nazi rocket program. “In a desperate attempt to attack targets in the U.S. with existing capabilities, they launched Project Laffarenz,” Lynn said. “What the Germans lacked in range they tried to make up for in inventiveness.”

In the deputy secretary’s telling, Project Laffarenz involved using U-boats to tow a battery of V-2s across the Atlantic on submersible barges. “Once within striking distance of the East Coast, the V-2 carrying containers would be flooded with water, righting launch tubes,” he said. “The Germans got as far as building a carrying container at the Baltic port at Elbing before the allied assault stopped any deployment.”

So, did the Germans come close to building a sort of prototype for a submarine-launched ballistic missile? According to Michael Neufeld, an authority on early rocketry and chair of the division of space history at the National Air and Space Museum, not even close.

“The one somewhat dubious source I saw made it clear that this was the same project as ‘Test Stand XII’ that was undertaken in the last months of the war, to create a towed V-2 canister behind a submarine,” he told Danger Room. “The canister would be flooded to float upright and the V-2 fired. They were building a few such canisters at the end of the war, but there is absolutely no evidence that the Germans were anywhere near ready to actually launch a missile out of a container.”

The rest <a href="″>here.


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