Strategic Weapons: February 20, 2003


Spurred on, no doubt, by North Koreas renewed ambitions to develop nuclear ICBMs, the U.S. has modified it's ABM (Anti-Ballistic Missile) plans a bit. Still in the works are twenty ground based interceptors. Sixteen will be at Fort Greely, Alaska, the other four at Vandenberg Air Force base in California. Any ICBMs launched from east Asia have to pass by Alaska on their way to the west coast of the United States. In addition, the U.S. Navy will deploy twenty souped up Standard surface to air missiles on warships equipped with Aegis radar systems (and modified to software to handle the ABM class Standard missiles.) By 2004, the army will also have it's ABM class Patriot PAC-3 missiles ready for service. These three weapons will, in theory, take care of anything from SCUDs to ICBMs. The next two years are going to be make or break time for the ABM crowd. Three systems will be fielded and there will be demands for strenuous tests to prove that these missiles work. In response, the ABM development organizations are asking to be exempted from strenuous testing in order to get the (possibly ineffective) missiles operational. 


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