Lasers, Drones, Hypersonic Weapons: Trump Unveils New Missile Plan


Earlier on Thursday, the Trump administration rolled out the 2019 Missile Defense Review - a new strategy meant to set the path to strengthen the United States' missile defense capabilities and make the case for urgent investment in new ones.

As part of this "comprehensive look" at U.S. missile defense capabilities, the senior administration official said the review "discusses the possibility of a third interceptor site in the continental United States, for example".

The new U.S. missile defense strategy is a boondoggle for the military industrial complex, which will drive the United States into more debt and can bring misery on multiple nations by fueling an arms race, former USA congressman Ron Paul said.

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.

The new US Missile Defense Review also suggested that Pyongyang has allegedly obtained Russian missile defense technology and has begun developing mobile missile defense capabilities that resemble those of Russia. The U.S. military could also take some of the Aegis missile defense test systems in Hawaii and make them operational to better protect the state.

Officials say the doctrine, initially expected in 2017, has been frequently rewritten to keep up with changing missile threats posed by North Korea, China, Russia and Iran.

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"Intercepting offensive missiles in their boost phase would increase the likelihood of successfully countering missile threats, complicate an aggressor's attack calculus. and reduce the number of midcourse or terminal active defense interceptors needed to destroy the adversary's remaining offensive missiles", the MDA said.

Another key piece is adapting existing systems to strike enemy threats prior to or during a missile launch. That earlier review emphasized the threat from nations such as Iran and North Korea and called for a limited defense that could stop them. The U.S. military is now testing the possibility that the F-35 fighter jet, which has a state-of-the-art sensor system that can track boosting missiles, could be equipped with an interceptor capable of shooting down an adversary's ballistic missile in its boost phase-as it is launching.

"We are expanding the scope of what we're postured to defend against", a senior administration official said in a call with reporters Wednesday. "Some of these missiles are capable of threatening the United States, threatening our allies, our partners". The Pentagon, he added, will also undertake a six-month study to assess whether to develop space-based interceptors-possibly in the form of lasers-that can shoot down adversary missiles from orbit. "We will never forget their noble and immortal sacrifice", Trump said. At present, it's unclear whether or not the next defense budget will be smaller or larger than the last.

Top among the concerns highlighted in the review is the speed at which rivals, particularly China and Russian Federation, are pushing ahead with hypersonic missiles, which can thwart traditional defence systems.

Unlike President Barack Obama's 2010 Ballistic Missile Defense Review, it neither cancels nor announces the beginning of any new major programs, notes Karako.

In a speech delivered in the Pentagon, Trump made claims for the planned missile defence system that went far beyond the capabilities of the systems, even according to his own administration's review.

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In his remarks, Trump also touched on his ongoing impasse with Democrats in Congress over his demand for $5.7 billion in funding for a wall at the U.S. -Mexico border.

New technologies for missile defenses were not specified in the report.

More broadly, Griffin said he believes the space-based layer is going to be "very affordable".

Specifically, the United States is looking to put a layer of sensors in space to more quickly detect enemy missiles when they are launched, according to a senior administration official, who briefed reporters on Wednesday.

"Missile defense necessarily includes missile offense", Shanahan said.

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