President Trump on Thursday outlined his administration’s plan to upgrade the U.S. missile defense system. In announcing the 2019 Missile Defense Review,
Trump, who spoke at the Pentagon alongside Vice President Pence and Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, said that the U.S. has to stay ahead of the curve.
“We are committed to establishing a missile defense program that can shield every city in the United States. And we will never negotiate away our right to do this,” Trump said. “It is not enough to merely keep pace with our adversaries; we must outpace them at every single turn. We must pursue the advanced technology and research to guarantee that the United States is always several steps ahead of those who would do us harm.”
The two-page review notes that U.S. adversaries, including China, Russia, Iran and North Korea are improving the capabilities of their missiles.
“More than 20 countries employ ballistic and cruise missiles or are pursuing hypersonic weapons — missiles that can travel at least five times faster than the speed of sound,” said a Department of Defense release.
Weapons in Space
“We will recognize that space is a new war-fighting domain, with the Space Force leading the way,” the president said. “My upcoming budget will invest in a space-based missile defense layer. It’s new technology. It’s ultimately going to be a very, very big part of our defense and, obviously, of our offense. The system will be monitored, and we will terminate any missile launches from hostile powers, or even from powers that make a mistake. It won’t happen. Regardless of the missile type or the geographic origins of the attack, we will ensure that enemy missiles find no sanctuary on Earth or in the skies above.”
Trump said that the new strategy calls for six major changes is U.S. missile defense policy:
- The addition of 20 new ground-based missile interceptors at Fort Greely, Alaska, for a total of 64 interceptors, and new tech to detect foreign missile launches
- Develop new technology, not just invest more in existing systems
- Adjust posture to also defend against any missile strikes, including cruise and hypersonic missiles.
- Recognize space as a new war-fighting domain
- Remove “bureaucratic obstacles” to speed the acquisition and deployment of new missile defense technology
- Insist on fair burden-sharing with U.S. allies.
“The world is changing, and we’re going to change much faster than the rest of the world,” Trump said. “All over, foreign adversaries, competitors, and rogue regimes are steadily enhancing their missile arsenals.”
The Missile Defense Review found that:
North Korea, with its nuclear testing program, has worked to create nuclear-armed ballistic missiles that can reach the U.S. and continues to pose a significant threat to the United States and its allies.
Iran has the largest ballistic missile force in the Middle East and is modernizing and extending the range of its ballistic missile systems.
China and Russia are carrying out military modernization programs to increase the capabilities of their existing missile systems while adding new and sophisticated types of missiles to their arsenals, including hypersonic weapons and advanced cruise missiles.