The Department of Defense will conduct a study of space-based ballistic missile defense starting in Fiscal 2009 based on a $5 million earmark included in the defense appropriations bill that President Bush signed into law Sept. 30. The Washington Times reported yesterday that the tucked-away appropriation for this research represents the first time in three years that money made it into the final version of the defense spending bill after two successive years when Pentagon requests for $10 million were squelched. The topic of space-based BMD is always a controversial topic, even on Capitol Hill, with some circles accusing the US military of escalating the weaponization of space by promoting it. Conversely supporters contend that space-based defenses ultimately make the most sense for countering longer range missile threats.
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.