m3n4.net April 20, 2019

United States plans missile defence expansion to resist North Korea's 'extraordinary threat'

18 January 2019, 12:43 | Tara Lloyd

Missile Defense Agency Missile interceptor test at Vandenberg Air Force base

Vandenberg Air Force base

President Donald Trump will visit the Pentagon on Thursday to formally unveil the Missile Defense Review.

Trump pledged "a new era in our missile defense program" as he formally unveiled the document.

Among the options under consideration to protect the United States from increasing missile threats are adding a third location of ground-based missile interceptors to the 40 in Alaska and four located in California, an official said.

President Donald Trump called for additional funding to boost USA missile defense systems - including the possible use of space-based sensors and directed-energy weapons - as he unveiled the findings of the first review of the program in almost a decade.

China is also seeking the technology, with the US Defense Intelligence Agency publishing a report Tuesday saying China's military "is developing a range of technologies to counter US and other countries' ballistic missile defense systems", including maneuverable re-entry vehicles, decoys and hypersonic glide vehicles. With these systems and additional radars, the president said, "We will shield every city in the United States, and we will never negotiate away our right to do that".

The United States' layered anti-missile system includes land-, sea-, and space-based elements that detect, track and target incoming missiles and is capable of defending against a limited attack using intercontinental ballistic missiles, weapons that can travel more than 3,400 miles.

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He outlined a number of changes that will be made to the country's defense capabilities, noting that the goal is to be able to detect and destroy any missile launched against the U.S.

In addition to a space focus, the MDR breaks down the threat into two camps: protecting the US homeland and defending USA forces overseas from any missile source. He also said "the USA will now adjust its posture" to defend against all kinds of missile strikes, including cruise missiles and hypersonic.

An expansion also would have important implications for American diplomacy, given long-standing Russian hostility to even the most rudimentary U.S. missile defences and China's worry that longer-range United States missile defences in Asia could undermine its national security.

US officials, including Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Michael Griffin, believe a space-based sensor layer could help detect missiles moving at hypersonic speeds.

"Listening to national security experts, and the president's own remarks, it seems clear that an effective high-tech missile defense system is a higher national security priority than building a wall across the southern border", Senator Jack Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat and ranking member of the Armed Services Committee, said in a statement.

Insisting that USA allies bear a "fair" share of defense spending. Russian Federation and China both claim to have developed a hypersonic missile that can evade conventional sensors. An expansion also would have important implications for American diplomacy, given long-standing Russian hostility to even the most rudimentary USA missile defenses and China's worry that longer-range US missile defenses in Asia could undermine Chinese national security.

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One of the main issues facing the Pentagon is whether it can develop and field new technologies fast enough to counter rapidly advancing missile threats in nations such as North Korea.

But Trump has since met North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un in a bid to end the crisis, and he was expected to welcome a top North Korean official in Washington on Friday.

The new missile defence review also envisages the addition of a new layer of satellites that would be able to spot enemy missiles at launch.

Yet Acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan, speaking prior to Trump, said the Pentagon is making a policy shift to integrate offensive and defensive capabilities.

For years, US missile defenses have focused exclusively on combating threats from rogue nations such as North Korea and Iran. Concerns about the threat of cruise missiles, especially to the homeland, have waxed and waned over the years, but advanced developments among America's near-peer competitors have surely contributed to the resurgence of interest in countering those weapons.

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