The U.S. ballistic missile defense system now being developed is intended to tie various components into a sophisticated web of protection against a missile attack.
Having a capability to defeat a missile attack on the U.S. homeland sounds like a wonderful idea to many people, but many others are opposed to missile defense for various reasons. Opponents argue that the technology is not yet ripe, the threat is limited and manageable, and the exorbitant amount of money allocated to develop the system could be better spent elsewhere.
President Bush has pledged $10 billion a year toward missile defense research and development. The huge price tag associated with missile defense ruffles many a feather.
A 2003 report titled, “The Full Costs of Ballistic Missile Defense,” by the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation and Economists Allied for Arms Reduction, estimates the cost to build the envisioned missile defense system will be upward of $1 trillion. According to the report, government cost-estimates for the proposed layered missile defense system focus on development and acquisition, “neglecting long-term operations and maintenance costs.”
“Although the Missile Defense Agency and Congressional Budget Office have released past cost-estimate reports, no publicly available study accounts for the full life-cycle costs of missile defense systems,” the report states.
The Defense Department’s Missile Defense Agency (MDA) is driving to field a layered missile defense system that integrates land-, sea-, and air-based missile defenses to protect the U.S. homeland, deployed troops, and America’s friends and allies against all types of ballistic missiles in all phases of flight, as well as to hedge against an accidental ballistic missile launch.
Basically, that means the United States is working toward the ability to shoot down all types of ballistic missiles whether in their boost phase, mid-course flight – normally outside of the Earth’s atmosphere – or as they descend toward their target.
The proposed system will incorporate a global array of sensors and radars, satellite tracking and surveillance, interceptor missiles aboard ships at sea, ground-based interceptors in underground silos, mobile-launch interceptors and powerful lasers fixed to aircraft.
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