America’s Massive Missile Defense Mistake

This week, The National Interest published an op-ed by Lt. General (USA, Ret.) Robert Gard and Phil Coyle on the implications for U.S. missile defense of the successful test of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system last Sunday. The authors argue that one successful test of the GMD system every five years and one-half years should not justify the deployment of more flawed interceptors.

Here is an excerpt:

What does the successful June 22 tell us? Not much. The batting average for the CE-II kill vehicle, which will sit atop the fourteen new interceptors planned for Alaska, is now one for three, or 33 percent. Not bad in baseball, but not good enough to justify putting more flawed interceptors in the ground. That’s why a recent National Research Council study recommended the design of a new, bigger, more capable kill vehicle and a new, faster two-stage booster. The Defense Department’s Director of Operational Test and Evaluation also recommended that a new design be considered. The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) is rightly planning to redesign the existing GMD kill vehicles due to poor performance and low reliability. Since the MDA says the old EKV is not good enough, why not focus on the new model instead?

In a variety of more effective ways, the Pentagon is dealing with the possible threat from North Korea, and the State Department is working to reduce the scope of Iran’s nuclear program to clearly peaceful civil purposes. But adding to an existing, unreliable missile-defense system will not improve our security and will waste hundreds of millions on deployments in Alaska that could be spent on more pressing security priorities.

Read the full piece here.

For more of our reaction to the test, click the Center in the News tab on the Center homepage.