Strategic Weapons: May 19, 2000


The Pentagon needs two successful missile interceptions to be confident that its missile defense system will work. It has one under its belt, but the second test missed by 100m due to a leak in the tubing that cooled the seeker. The third test is scheduled for June (but is expected to slip into July) and the fourth is set for October. The Pentagon wants a decision to deploy the system made in June but expects that President Clinton will announce it in November, but only if one of the next two tests is a success. It's not as simple, however, as getting one hit in two more tries. The third test will incorporate a new system designed to allow the interceptor to communicate with the ground tracking stations. If that system fails, the fourth test could be delayed several months as they dismantle the entire fourth kill vehicle to replace the communications unit. Plans are to deploy 20 interceptors in 2005, eventually reaching 200-250 weapons. Secret tactical plans leaked by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists show that four interceptors will be fired at each incoming missile, meaning that the entire system will be good against only 60 or so incoming missiles. The US has told the Russians this, since they have more than 60 missiles and the US wants them to agree that the defense shield is no threat to their own nuclear deterrent. The Russians are convinced, however, that the US would field many more interceptors and would fire only one or two at each incoming missile, meaning that the US could intimidate or even attack Russia without fear of retaliation.--Stephen V Cole


Article Archive

Strategic Weapons: Current 2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close