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Sea-Based Ballistic Missile Defense - Background and Issues for Congress

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Congressional rept.

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The eventual role of sea-based systems in the worldwide U.S. BMD architecture has not been determined. The overall issue for Congress discussed in this report is What should be the role of sea-based systems in U.S. ballistic missile defense, and are DODs programs for sea-based BMD capabilities appropriately structured and funded The Aegis BMD system in its current configuration is intended to track ballistic missiles of all ranges, including intercontinental ballistic missiles ICBMs, and to intercept shorter-ranged ballistic missiles. The current configuration is not intended to intercept ICBMs. Future versions of the Aegis BMD system are to include a faster interceptor designed to intercept certain ICBMs. The Aegis BMD system has achieved 15 successful exo-atmospheric intercepts in 19 attempts. This total includes one successful intercept and one unsuccessful intercept by Japanese Aegis ships in two Japanese test flights. The Aegis BMD system has also achieved 3 successful endoatmospheric intercepts in 3 attempts, for a combined total of 18 successful exo- and endoatmospheric intercepts in 22 attempts. The Aegis BMD system was also temporarily modified and used successfully on February 20, 2008, to shoot down an inoperative U.S. surveillance satellite. Japan has acquired the Aegis BMD system, and some other allied navies have expressed an interest in adding BMD capabilities to their ships. Potential issues for Congress regarding sea-based BMD systems include oversight questions raised by the Administrations proposed new architecture for BMD in Europe, the number of SM-3 interceptors planned for procurement, the number of Aegis BMD ships, whether development of a far-term sea-based terminal-defense BMD capability should be accelerated, technical risk in the Aegis BMD program, potential allied sea-based BMD programs, and whether development and testing of the Aegis BMD system offers any lessons for development and testing of other BMD systems.

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  • Antimissile Defense Systems

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