Strategic Weapons: October 14, 1999


The Navy has launched its first Upper Tier missile defense interceptor on 24 Sept; the missile reached an altitude of 56km, but was not aimed at a target and hence did not hit one. (The first attempt to launch the missile failed due to a communications problem.) Seven more tests are planned, including interceptions later in the schedule. Because the Pentagon does not have enough money to buy both the Army THAAD system and the Navy Upper Tier system, there is a defacto competition which should be resolved next year. Technically, the competition will only decide which system will be first into development; the other will in theory be started later when more money becomes available. In reality, no one really believes that an administration would ask for or Congress would provide money for both systems when one of them is in production.--Stephen V Cole


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