Midcourse is the Way

The United States must upgrade its Ground-based Midcourse Defense system to have a more realistic chance of stopping a long-range ballistic missile attack from Iran or North Korea, according to a newly issued National Research Council report. The current GMD system, built around ground-based interceptors in Alaska and California, represents an “early, but fragile” defensive capability that the United States should bolster via a third interceptor site in the northeastern United States, smaller interceptors based on proven technology, and more X-band radars to track the threat missiles, states a Sept. 11 NRC release on the report. Otherwise, GMD “will not be able to work against any but the most primitive attacks,” it reads. Moreover, boost-phase missile defenses are not “practical or feasible” because of the short intercept timelines, states the release. Therefore, the United States should concentrate, instead, on defensive systems that intercept during the midcourse phase of the threat missile’s trajectory, it states. David Montague, former Lockheed Martin executive, and Walter Slocombe, former undersecretary of defense for policy, co-chaired the report, which the Missile Defense Agency chartered to meet a congressional mandate. (NRC report; caution, large-sized file.) (See also Bloomberg report.)