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News Release


Release No: 642-02
December 17, 2002


In light of the new security environment and progress made to date in missile defense development efforts, the President has directed the Department of Defense to begin fielding initial missile defense capabilities in 2004-2005 to meet the near-term ballistic missile threat to our homeland, our deployed forces, and our friends and allies. These initial capabilities emerge from our research and development (R&D) program and build on the testbed we have been constructing.

The Department of Defense is employing an evolutionary approach to the development and deployment of missile defenses over time. This means there is no final or fixed missile defense architecture. Rather, the composition of missile defenses, including the number, type, and location of systems deployed, will change over time to meet the changing threat and take advantage of technological developments.

The initial set of capabilities planned for 2004-2005 will include:

  • Up to 20 ground-based interceptors capable of intercepting and destroying intercontinental ballistic missiles during the midcourse phase of flight located at Ft. Greely, Alaska (16 interceptors) and Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. (4 interceptors);
  • Up to 20 sea-based interceptors employed on existing Aegis ships to intercept short and medium range ballistic missiles in the mid-course phase of flight;
  • Deployment of air-transportable Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) systems to intercept short and medium range ballistic missiles;
  • Land, sea and space-based sensors, including existing early warning satellites, an upgraded radar now located at Shemya, Alaska, a new sea-based X-band radar and other sensors now on Aegis cruisers and destroyers.  We have also made a request to the United Kingdom and the Kingdom of Denmark to upgrade early warning radars on their territory.

These initial capabilities may be improved through additional measures, such as:

  • Additional ground-and-sea based interceptors and PAC-3 units;
  • The Theater High Altitude Area Defense system to intercept short and medium range missiles at high altitude;
  • Availability of the developmental Airborne Laser aircraft that will use directed energy to destroy a ballistic missile in the boost phase;
  • A common family of boost-phase and midcourse interceptors for land and sea basing;
  • Enhanced radars and other sensor capabilities; and
  • Development and testing of space-based defenses, specifically space-based kinetic energy (hit to kill) interceptors and advanced target tracking satellites.

Because the threats of the 21st century also endanger our friends and allies around the world, it is essential that we work together to meet these threats. The Department of Defense plans to develop and deploy missile defenses capable of protecting not only the United States and our deployed forces, but also friends and allies. The missile defense program will also be structured in a manner that encourages industrial cooperation by friends and allies, consistent with overall U.S. national security. In conjunction with the Department of State, the Department of Defense will promote international missile defense cooperation, including within existing mutual defense structures like NATO, and negotiate appropriate arrangements for this purpose.

The deployment of missile defenses is an essential element of our overall national security policy to transform U.S. defense and deterrence capabilities to meet emerging and evolving threats. The evolutionary approach to missile defense provides near-term capability as we continue to pursue a robust research and development program against ballistic missiles of all ranges.

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