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Two Nuclear Issues Are Upgrading Our Current Nuclear Missile And Missile Defense Systems

ArmchairPolitiicianNuclearWeapons, September 4, 2017, by Brad Peery, WWW. ArmchairPolitician.US,

Two initiatives being pursued by the Trump administration are: To upgrade our missile systems, including the Minuteman system, and nuclear systems such as our nuclear submarines; And, upgrade our missile defense systems. With regard to the missile defense systems, there are two needs that are required. The U.S. needs to be able to track and destroy missiles that are medium range or shorter, and long range ballistic missiles that are launched into space, and need to be destroyed either before or after they go into space.

Systems such as the Aegis Missile Defense at sea, and the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) on land, are the two systems the may be able to destroy missiles that don’t go into space.

An older missile defense system is the Groundbased Midcourse Defense (GMD) system, that has a success rate of nine of seventeen intercepts in trials, That said, a test conducted May 30 of a simulated ICBM aimed at the West Coast destroyed the mock warhead, but no more tests are planned until late next year. Work is underway in Congress to upgrade this to a more integrated system.

North Korea’s recent testing of an intercontinental ballistic missile came as the U.S. still has reliability issues with its homeland missile defense system. There is no guarantee it will destroy any incoming nuclear warhead from North Korea. The ground-based interceptors in Alaska and California, have been tested, but, U.S. government agencies have critiqued the test as not being realistic,” said John Park, director of the Korea Working Group at the Harvard Kennedy School.

The Minuteman III was tested May 3, 2017 near Lompoc. It is an important element of U.S. defense strategy: a fleet of intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of destroying any spot on Earth with a nuclear blast in 30 minutes or less. Although the flight test proved Minuteman is still capable of performing its mission, major components of the missile and the control centers used to launch them are obsolete and have become increasingly expensive to maintain.

At the same time, Russia and China are upgrading their nuclear capabilities. Pakistan, India and Israel continue to build new nuclear weapons and delivery systems. Air Force officials worry increasingly about the Minuteman’s ability to penetrate adversaries’ future missile defense systems.

The Pentagon has begun work to replace the Minuteman fleet with a new generation of missiles and launch control centers, but the plan would cost of $85 billion. Two defense firms will be awarded three-year contracts for $359 million each this year, with a test flight program scheduled for launch in the mid-2020s.

The ICBM missile defense system of the U.S. appears to be unreliable, despite a successful missile intercept earlier this year. The neglect of this system is a remnant of the Obama administration letting our military defenses decline significantly. The Minuteman missile system needs to be upgraded to allow it to be successful in evading missile defense systems of others. Similar upgrades are needed for ship missile launch systems. The threat from North Korea is real, and the U.S. needs substantial improvements in its offensive and defensive missile systems.

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