US missile defense breakthrough - Navy ships to destroy enemy ICBMs | Eurasia Diary -

26 June, Wednesday

US missile defense breakthrough - Navy ships to destroy enemy ICBMs

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The Pentagon plans a “first-of-its-kind” test of an unprecedented weapons capability to intercept and destroy an enemy Intercontinental Ballistic Missile *ICBM” — from a Navy ship at sea using a Standard Missile-3 Block IIA.

The concept, as articulated by Pentagon officials and cited briefly in this years’ DoD “Missile Defense Review,” would be to use an advanced SM-3 IIA to “underlay” and assist existing Ground-Based Interceptors (GBI), adding new dimensions to the current US missile defense posture.

“We are going to test this,” a senior Pentagon weapons developer told Warrior Maven.

The testing, Pentagon officials tell Warrior, is slated for as soon as next year. The effectiveness and promise of the Raytheon-built SM-3 IIA shown in recent testing has inspired Pentagon weapons developers to envision an even broader role for the weapon. The missile is now “proven out,” US weapons developers say.

“The interceptor (SM-3 IIA) has the potential to offer an additional defensive capability to ease the burden on the GBI system and provide continuous protection for the US homeland,” the Pentagon Missile Defense Review states.

The report specifies that Congress has directed DoD to examine the feasibility of the SM-3 IIA against an ICBM-class target.

“The SM-3 IIA was not designed to take out ICBMs, but is showing great promise. This would be in the upper range of its capability -- so we are going to try,” the Pentagon official told Warrior.

A mobile, sea-based ICBM defense could massively expand the protective envelope for identifying and intercepting enemy attacks. As opposed to fixed, land-based GBIs, Navy ships could maneuver into key positions based on warnings or intelligence information. Should they operate closer to the shore, Navy ships armed with SM-3 IIAs could bring the possibility of taking out an ICBM early in its flight, perhaps just after it enters space.

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