The U.S. Navy’s Aegis combat system is headed for a major budget increase, thanks to the growing nuclear threat posed by North Korea. The latest upgrade of Aegis is able to intercept 99% of the ballistic missiles in North Korea’s arsenal, while simultaneously defending against all manner of airborne threats. That makes Aegis uniquely relevant to the Trump Administration’s plan to bolster U.S. missile defenses, because unlike every other missile defense program the Pentagon is pursuing it is sea-based and thus not dependent on access to land bases. Although designed mainly for dealing with regional challenges, its six-megawatt radar already feeds detection and tracking data to the U.S. homeland defense system. It is the logical candidate to provide a second layer of protection against long-range missile attacks against America by North Korea or other countries. Combined with the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system already deployed in Alaska and California, Aegis could greatly reduce the damage to the U.S. homeland caused by an attack. The White House will likely send a signal in the near future that it wants to go that route by reviving efforts canceled during the Obama years to give Aegis engagement capability against intercontinental ballistic missile warheads. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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