Center for Arms Control

Missile Defense

Missile Defense

For the latest missile related news and analysis, please see the Missile Defense section of Nukes of Hazard.


Interceptor test in the Marshall Islands (2005). MDA photo.

The American missile defense program is a comprehensive, multi-layered system of systems designed to protect the United States and its allies against ballistic missile attack. The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) within the Department of Defense has primary responsibility for ballistic missile defense programs. Annual funding has increased from $3 billion during the Clinton administration to over $10 billion today.

It was not until 1983, with President Ronald Reagan's "Star Wars" speech, that expanded research and development on missile defense programs notably accelerated. The Star Wars program, officially known as the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), aimed to establish combined ground- and space-based missile defense systems to protect against strategic nuclear ballistic missiles by forming a "protective bubble." This complex endeavor sparked skepticism about technological feasibility, affordability, and possible abrogation of the ABM Treaty. Star Wars was never fully developed or deployed.

Despite an investment of over $150 billion since the mid-1980s, questions remain about the technical viability and cost-effectiveness of the US missile defense effort.

RECENT ANALYSIS

Mar 30, 2014

Washington Times Story on Missile Defense Quotes Kingston Reif

“Because it makes us feel good to poke Russia in the eye does not mean it’s a good national security decision,” he told The Times in an interview. “There are smart and effective ways to punish Russia and help Ukraine and our Eastern European allies and there are counterproductive ways that amount to little more than political posturing.”

Mar 21, 2014

Global Security Newswire Story on Cruise Missile Defense Quotes Kingston Reif

"The idea is to cobble together enough stuff [so] that maybe something will work. But none of these systems were designed for cruise-missile defense," Kingston Reif, an analyst with the Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation, said in an e-mail.

Feb 11, 2014

The Defense That Does not Defend: More problems for national missile defense

In the wake of a new report by the Pentagon's in-house tester, spending even more money to expand the troubled Ground Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system is a fool’s errand, writes Kingston Reif in this new analysis.

Dr. Lieutenant General Robert G. Gard, Jr. (USA, ret.)

CENTER EXPERT

Lieutenant General Robert G. Gard, Jr. (USA, ret.)

Chairman
202-546-0795 ext.2111
rgard AT armscontrolcenter DOT org

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