On July 30, the Missile Defense Agency and the U.S. Navy conducted a successful test of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System (Aegis BMDS). A Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IA intercepted a target simulating a short range ballistic missile. This is the 19th successful test since 2002 for an overall success rate of over 80 percent. One of these tests was the successful intercept of a de-orbiting satellite, something never done before, certainly not from a sea-going platform.
This latest test is a clear reminder that missile defenses have come of age and none too soon. The threat to U.S. forces, allies and friends from short and medium range ballistic missiles continues to grow both quantitatively and qualitatively. China is reported to have developed a ballistic missile with a 1,200 mile range and a homing warhead. Iran launched a satellite into orbit in February 2009.
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has proposed to increase the number of Aegis BMDS capable ships. He also has proposed buying more SM-3s. These are worthwhile steps. However, if Secretary Gates really wants to protect U.S. forces, allies and friends he will provide additional funds to upgrade deployed SM-3s from the IA to the IB configuration and push MDA to speed the development of the more advanced SM-3 Block II A/B.
Find Archived Articles: