Commentary

October 23, 2013

Missile Defense: An old idea uniquely suited for today’s global threats

Claude Berube
U.S. Navy Academy

Recent satellite imagery suggests that North Korea has greatly expanded its uranium enrichment capabilities. The nation just promised to launch more long-range rockets “soon.” And, reportedly, labs in Pyongyang are hard at work developing nuclear-armed missiles capable of striking the U.S. mainland.
With the North Korean threat apparently mounting, it’s essential for the United States to continue investing in missile defense.

Missile shield technologies first gained attention in 1983, when President Ronald Reagan proposed a bold endeavor called the Strategic Defense Initiative. At the time, critics famously dismissed the prospect of intercepting incoming missiles as a “Star Wars” fantasy.

Although the technology didn’t exist, Reagan’s concept was sound, therefore it quickly spawned a wave of development projects.

During the first Gulf War, the United States unveiled one of these technologies with the Patriot missile system. With Patriot batteries in Israel and Saudi Arabia, the U.S. military was able to eliminate 70 percent of the scud missiles fired by Saddam Hussein.

Today, American missile defense systems continue to keep America safe, reassure our allies, and calm global tensions.

This past spring, for instance, when North Korea announced its decision to unilaterally nullify the 1953 armistice and threatened to attack its southern neighbor, the United States deployed a Navy destroyer equipped with the advanced “Aegis” anti-missile system. The move helped quiet the region, stifling further provocations by the North and preventing the South from taking any action of its own.

Recent tests have shown that technological progress continues apace. In May, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency and sailors aboard the U.S. Navy’s USS Lake Erie engaged and destroyed a short-range ballistic missile that was launched from Hawaii over the Pacific Ocean. This was the Missile Defense Agency’s 59th successful intercept in 74 tests since it debuted the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense in 2001.
Despite these strides – and the growing threats we face – missile defense is on the chopping block. In its 2014 budget request, the Obama Administration proposed cutting the Pentagon’s missile defense budget by about 6 percent.

These planned cuts are particularly surprising given that the Obama administration has also just announced a new joint anti-missile initiative with key allies across the Atlantic. The European Phased Adaptive Approach is expected to incorporate new detection and destruction techniques to keep our European allies safe from rogue missile threats.

These cuts will undermine the development of this system. Indeed, just this March, American defense officials canceled the final phase of another Europe-based missile defense initiative citing budget constraints.

We’ve made tremendous progress since Ronald Reagan first announced the Strategic Defense Initiative. Now is no time to choke off funding for these promising technologies. America must continue to invest in these systems to counter the growth missile threat presented by North Korea and other dangerous regimes.

Editor’s note: Berube, the author of “The Aden Effect” (Naval Institute Press, October 2012), teaches at the U.S. Naval Academy. He was a 2004 Brookings Institution LEGIS Fellow and a 2010 Maritime Security Studies Fellow at The Heritage Foundation. The views are his own and not those of the Department of the Navy.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines July 23, 2014

News: Israel’s Iron Dome defense in line for tripled U.S. spending - Israel’s iron Dome missile defense system may end up getting triple the U.S. funding that the Defense Department sought for it in March. Ukraine asked U.S. for systems to counter Russian missiles - A month before the United States says a Russian missile likely brought...
 
 

News Briefs July 23, 2014

U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan at 2,194 As of July 22, 2014, at least 2,194 members of the U.S. military had died in Afghanistan as a result of the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, according to an Associated Press count. The AP count is three less than the Defense Department’s tally. At least...
 
 
Raytheon photograph

Raytheon completes key Air, Missile Defense Radar reviews

Raytheon photograph Partially-populated, full-sized Air and Missile Defense Radar array. Raytheon has completed two critical program reviews for the new Air and Missile Defense Radar, the U.S. Navy’s next generation integ...
 

 
Insitu photograph

Insitu demonstrates long endurance capabilities of Integrator unmanned aircraft

Insitu photograph Insitu’s Integrator unmanned aircraft recovers via SkyHook; the aircraft recently completed a 24-hour endurance flight. Insitu announced July 22 the successful 24-hour flight of its Integrator unmanned a...
 
 

NASA partners punctuate summer with spacecraft development advances

Spacecraft and rocket development is on pace this summer for NASA’s aerospace industry partners for the agency’s Commercial Crew Program as they progress through systems testing, review boards and quarterly sessions under their† Space Act Agreements with the agency. NASA engineers and specialists continue their review of the progress as the agency and partners move...
 
 

U.S. Navy selects Northrop Grumman for ship self-defense system

The U.S. Navy has awarded Northrop Grumman a $12 million task order for a full range of engineering services to continue modernizing the Ship Self-Defense System Mark 2. The contract has a potential value of $61 million over five years, if all options are exercised. SSDS MK2 is a combat system designed for anti-air defense...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>