August 10, 2005
Defense contractor Lockheed Martin, taking advantage of the widespread fear of terrorist attack in the United States, has proposed a billion dollar anti-missile defense system for the northeast coast of the United States. Lockheed Martin believes it is likely that terrorists would use cargo ships as launching platforms for SCUD missiles. Existing Patriot anti-aircraft missile technology would be used to shoot down the SCUDs before they could hit any of the urban areas from Boston to Washington. The latest version of Patriot has a proven track record in knocking down SCUD type missiles. Whats interesting about this proposal is that no terrorists have been known to have obtained SCUD missiles, or seagoing cargo ships. Lockheed Martin said it spent a year analyzing this problem.
Its long been feared that terrorists, especially well financed ones, could easily by older merchant ships (the tramp steamer often featured in fiction for over a century), and use them to set off a cargo of explosives in a major American port. So far, no one has been able to find terrorist owned cargo ships. Terrorist owned SCUD missiles are a relatively new threat, and none of those has been uncovered either. But you cant be too careful, especially if theres a chance you can get another billion bucks out of Congress.