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.
ARTICLES & FACT SHEETS
Mar 19, 2012
Apr 8, 2011
Oct 20, 2008
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- National Research Council, "Making Sense of Ballistic Missile Defense: An Assessment of Concepts and Systems for U.S. Boost-Phase Missile Defense in Comparison to Other Alternatives," April 30, 2012.
- Government Accountability Office, "Opportunities Exist to Strengthen Acquisitions by Reducing Concurrency and Improving Parts Quality," April 25, 2012.
- Pentagon Director, Operational Test and Evaluation, "FY 2011 Annual Report: BMDS Programs," December 2011.
- Defense Science Board, "Science and Technology Issues of Early Intercept Missile Defense," October, 2011.