Strategic Weapons: August 25, 2000


Israel has passed up $200 million in US funding for BPI (Boost Phase Intercept) missile defense programs. The Israelis want to focus on PLI (Pre-Launch Intercept) and have asked the US to fund this program. The US Congress, however, has been reluctant to expand the funding to PLI since most PLI systems could (and therefore would) be used for all manner of targets beyond missiles, while BPI can effectively only deal with missiles. The Israelis want to use a UAV armed with a missile weapon of some kind to hunt enemy missile launchers and attack them before they can launch. The problem with this theory is that finding launchers is difficult (the US cannot be certain it ever found a SCUD launcher during the Gulf War) and even a UAV loitering over enemy territory would have trouble finding one. The entire PLI concept requires some kind of intelligence asset that can at least narrow down the possible location of a missile launcher within a couple of thousand meters.--Stephen V Cole


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