Good News on National Missile Defense

Fox News reports on the latest successful interception of a ballistic missile in tests yesterday, bringing us one step closer to developing a full-fledged NMD program. This particular test is of great interest; it involves the interception of a missile before it goes beyond the atmosphere. This is a crucial strategy for avoiding the problem of MIRVs (Multiple Independent Re-Entry Vehicles — multiple, independently-targeted warheads on a single missle that detach in space and re-enter the atmosphere separately).

Also, the delivery of the interceptor missile is of great interest. It was launched from an Aegis-class destroyer. Aegis destroyers are slated to be the first iteration of NMD; they are highly mobile, highly accurate, and — since they also happen to be bad-ass warships — can serve other purposes as well, giving us a measure of protection on the cheap (relatively).

When deployed, the Aegis program will provide us with a rudimentary and localized NMD shield. This plan was designed, incidentally, with North Korea in mind (that’s why we have so many Aegis destroyers in the Sea of Japan). Early estimates put the date for full-scale deployment of Aegis-based defenses in 2003 or 2004, and Rumsfeld is certainly pushing ahead.

I wrote an article about this back when Bush was just elected; it’s here.