Trump announces ambitious new missile defense plan

Trump announces ambitious new missile defense plan

The report also states that space-based missile interceptors should be built to counter rogue-state missiles by attacking the missiles during the early phase of flight when they are most vulnerable to attack.

The systems are also aimed at protecting against existing threats from Iran and North Korea.

President Trump also said America must recognize space is a new war fighting domain and create a space-based missile defense system.


In a report released earlier this week, the Pentagon warned that China has made advances in hypersonic technology that, "in some areas" "already leads the world", potentially allowing Beijing to develop weapons that are far more hard to detect. One senior administration official explained to reporters in a conference call Wednesday that a "significant change to the threat environment" has been seen in recent years.

Undertaken at the direction of the White House, the missile defense review was supposed to be released almost a year ago, but the Pentagon spent months rewriting it to address regional missile threats in addition to those posed by rogue nations. "In a time of rapidly evolving threats, we must be certain that our defensive capabilities are unrivalled and unmatched anywhere in the world", Trump said. However, Griffin hinted that funding for a new layer of space-based sensors, something Congress itself has requested, will be notably present.

The review says North Korea is fielding regional missiles capable of threatening allies and deployed forces, while Iran has a ballistic missile force that could strike throughout the Middle East and southeast Europe. People familiar with the document discussed some of its contents with The Washington Post, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the review has yet to be released.


"Effective deterrence is the preferred strategy to prevent missiles attack ... however, a broader approach is required to address the increasingly complex missile-threat environment", reads a summary of the report reviewed by Stars and Stripes before it was to be released Thursday. The strategy will encourage prototypes for promising new technologies to be evaluated outside the standard acquisition process to increase speed. "The U.S. will now adjust its posture to also defend against any missile strikes including cruise and hypersonic missiles". While the North Koreans have successfully demonstrated they possess weapons capable of reaching the USA mainland, Iran is only believed to be working on such missiles.

The official stressed that the viability of space-based missile defense weaponry was only being studied and no decisions had been made. The United States operates ground-based interceptors in Alaska and California.

The official added that the missile defense capabilities "are primarily postured to stay ahead of rogue state threats", pointing to Iran as an example. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued an ultimatum in early December that Russian Federation had 60 days to comply with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, following reports Moscow had developed and deployed ground-launched cruise missiles it calls the 9M729, among other internationally recognized violations.


While the USA efforts will look to counter regional missile threats, they don't seek to protect against a full-scale strategic missile attack on the American homeland by a nuclear-armed nation such as Russian Federation or China. Though the US and North Korea are conducting peace talks, the two have remained wary of one another's missile capabilities and Trump's hardline stance against Iran has only inflamed tensions between the USA and the Middle East's largest missile power. The Bush administration, led by national security adviser John Bolton, lifted such limits with its withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with Russian Federation in 2002.

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