Accession Number:



Defense Primer: Ballistic Missile Defense

Descriptive Note:

Technical Report

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Congressional Research Service Washington United States

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The United States has been developing and deploying ballistic missile defenses BMD to defend against enemy missiles continuously since the late 1940s. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the United States deployed a limited nuclear-tipped BMD system to protect a portion of its U.S. land-based nuclear ICBM intercontinental ballistic missile force in order to preserve a strategic deterrent against a Soviet nuclear attack on the Homeland. That system became active in 1975 but shut down in 1976 because of concerns over cost and effectiveness. In the FY1975 budget, the Army began funding research into hit-to-kill or kinetic energy interceptors as an alternative--the type of interceptor technology dominates U.S. BMD systems today. In 1983, President Reagan announced an enhanced effort for BMD. Since the start of the Reagan initiative in 1985, BMD has been a key national security interest in Congress. It has appropriated well over 200 billion for a broad range of research and development programs and deployment of BMD systems here and abroad.

Subject Categories:

  • Surface-Launched Guided Missiles
  • Antimissile Defense Systems

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