Trump Prepares Case for Funding New Missile Defense Plan

Trump Prepares Case for Funding New Missile Defense Plan

Kerry Wise
January 18, 2019

"Today marks the beginning of a new era in our missile defence program", Trump said.

The U.S. missile defense system is primarily meant to counter threats from foreign powers with small nuclear arsenals, including North Korea, according to military officials.

In the Pentagon's missile defence review, which Trump unveiled on Thursday, his administration has called for a large-scale expansion of existing and sea-based systems, much of it created to guard against a missile attack from North Korea. One is a hypersonic glide vehicle, which could fly 20 times faster than the speed of sound and make sharp manoeuvres to avoid being detected by missile defence systems.

With regard to the missile threats from Russian Federation and China, the report is expected to say that the U.S. will rely on deterrence, by having the military be able to conduct a retaliatory strike that would discourage Moscow or Beijing from attacking.

USA officials, including Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Michael Griffin, believe a space-based sensor layer will help detect missiles moving at hypersonic speeds. "We will terminate any missile launches from hostile powers ... regardless of missile type or geographic origin", Trump said.

Still, Russia views USA missile defense advances as a threat and Trump's report is likely to stoke tensions with Moscow.

"Missile defenses are a key element of our strategy given this proliferation of offensive ballistic and cruise missiles and emerging hypersonic weapons technologies that markedly raise threats to regional balances and to our major allies and partners", Acting Secretary of Defense Shanahan wrote in a preface to the review. "We have the best anywhere in the world and it's not even close".

Trump talked about increasing the missile capability of the United States first, selling that technology to trusted allies and keeping a watchful eye on rogue regimes that might pursue the capability to launch missiles at the United States.

Suspicious packages sent to embassies in Australia
Sky reported that the scare coincided with the USA embassy's hazmat training, which had been booked for months. Some of the packages were reported to contain what appeared to be concrete, and were labelled asbestos.

Tom Karako, a missile defense expert with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said if the Department of Defense doesn't get its funding set up in this next budget, it may never get want it wants in terms of nuclear weapons and interceptors.

"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. A Russian politician blasted what he considered US attempts to use the threat regarding the INF treaty to affect other potential agreements on missile defense. The biggest single takeaway is the expanding definition of missile defense to more cohesively include non-ballistic threats, including cruise missiles and hypersonic weapons.

"If deterrence fails and conflict with a rogue state or within a region ensues, US attack operations supporting missile defense will degrade, disrupt, or destroy an adversary's missiles before they are launched", the report said noting that that concept is part of a new comprehensive missile defense strategy that would reduce the number of missiles that would be need to be struck during flight or at the end of their flight.

While the US 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. It highlights concerns about advancing capabilities by North Korea, Iran, Russia and China.

The document used stronger language.

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.

The strategy would involve the possible use of stealthy F-35 jets if a conflict broke out with, say, North Korea or Iran.