September 17, 2012
Michael Fabey Washington
The U.S. will most certainly reap rewards from its investments in Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) and the Navy Aegis for ballistic missile defense systems, especially in the Pacific regions, a recent National Research Council report concludes.
However, the nation should abandon or curtail other ballistic missile defense (BMD) efforts or concepts such as the space-based Precision Tracking and Surveillance System (PTSS) or those focused on boost-phase missile interceptions, the report notes.
The NRC report also states that earlier phases of the proposed U.S. BMD plan to protect European allies through the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) should work if the right technology is in place. But, a caution is sounded about the final EPAA phase.
The U.S. Navy and Missile Defense Agency (MDA) awarded contracts and modifications for at least $2.3 billion worth of missiles, BMD research and Aegis system-related work in July and August, according to Pentagon reports.
The potential cumulative total for those contracts now approaches about $3.9 billion, those reports show.
Altogether, the proposed Navy acquisition programs for the ships, radars and combat systems for BMD and related missions could be worth $121.8 billion or more in the coming decades, according to government analysts. Add in the missiles the government plans to buy and that total could rise to as much as $127.3 billion, according to an Aviation Week review and analysis of government reports.
“There is a huge demand for BMD ships,” says Capt. Jim Kilby, Navy BMD requirements officer.