Computers: Star Wars and Software

The defense system's crucial link may be the program that runs it

Critics of President Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative (Star Wars) program have questioned the feasibility of the laser and particle-beam weapons, sensing and guidance devices, battle management stations and other hardware necessary for a system that would intercept and destroy enemy missiles before they reached their targets in the U.S. But until recently they have largely overlooked what may be the biggest stumbling block to an effective defense against a massive nuclear missile attack: the computer software needed to make the system work. Says Thomas Probert, director of computer and software engineering for the Institute for Defense Analyses: "The hardware will be...

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