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Expert Group Urges Missile Defense Including Aegis System, Space-Based Assets

By | July 31, 2006

      An expert group has urged the United States to press ahead with developing the sea-based Aegis ballistic missile defense system, a space-based system, and formation of a missile shield to protect the U.S. East Coast.

      At the same time, the group recommends putting the brakes on the ground-based missile defense system.

      While critics two decades ago ridiculed missile defense systems as a dream or an expensive folly that wouldn’t work, the group says it would be folly not to forge a strong shield against enemy missiles of various types including long-range, nuclear-tipped weapons, in the current age where North Korea is developing long-range missiles and nuclear weapons and terrorists and rogue states attempt to obtain such lethal capabilities.

      The report comes as lawmakers on Capitol Hill are weighing cuts in missile defense spending.

      The 188-page report by the Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis was sponsored by the institute and by the American Foreign Policy Council, Claremont Institue, Missouri State University, George C. Marshall Institute, The Heritage Foundation, High Frontier and the Institute of the North. It was released at a Heritage Foundation policy luncheon on Capitol Hill.

      “With the proper direction, the sea-based missile defense program now under development can become a highly effective component of a global layered defense [and] serve as an incubator for several technologies that will eventually be used in space,” the report states.

      That refers to the Aegis weapon control system and radar built by Lockheed Martin [LMT], and to the Standard Missile that actually intercepts and destroys the incoming enemy missile, produced by Raytheon [RTN].

      Sea-based systems, typically involving a Navy cruiser, “constitute an established and advantageous near-term missile defense option for the United States,” the report states.

      Because the system is mounted on ships, it can travel to any trouble spot in the world to guard against enemy missiles being fired in that region, without the United States having to gain permission from other nations to install land-based systems, the report continued.

      The government should increase funding for the sea-based system, and give the Navy more control over the missile shield, which is operated under the Missile Defense Agency, the report recommends.

      That would include providing an extra $100 million above current allocations to bolster the Standard Missile-3 Block 1 capabilities to permit “late-midcourse and, depending on where deployed, boost-phase interception of [enemy] ICBMs,” the report suggests.

      As well, the report urges deploying the sea-based missile defense on various classes of Navy ships that already are fitted with the Vertical Launch System (VLS), a Lockheed Martin product. They would include Ticonderoga Class cruisers, and Spruance Class and Arleigh Burke Class destroyers equipped with the VLS system.

      The report also urges reviving a missile defense concept first proposed in the 1980s called Brilliant Pebbles.

      As well, the report urges reviving technologies for the light-weight Advanced Technology Kill Vehicle developed for space-based applications.

      The report argues that those who abjure placing weapons in space are misguided in opposing space-based missile defense assets, since those assets are defensive and not offensive, and could save millions of lives in event of an enemy nuclear attack.

      To view the report in entirety, enter on the Web.

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