The three Navy ships currently equipped for ballistic missile defense, the cruisers USS Shiloh, USS Lake Erie and USS Port Royal, will be joined by three destroyers with matching capability by the end of the year. The ships getting the upgrade are USS Stethem, USS Decatur and USS Curtis Wilbur.
The Navy’s ballistic missile defense system, based on the AEGIS tracking and targeting suite and Standard SM-3 missiles, has scored pretty well in tests so far, far better than the land-based systems. It’s hit seven out of eight targets.
In response to the ramping up of naval anti-missile defense, Ships’ crews undergo tactical missile training:
Rear Adm. Alan B. Hicks, head of the Aegis ballistic missile defense program, said the new mission means ships will take on the role of seaborne defenders against ballistic missile attack on the U.S. or allies.
“You change the aperture of how not just the commanding officer but his crew looks at the mission because the implication of not being successful are staggering,” he said. “What I tell the crews is ‘You cannot fail.’ ”
The Navy plans to have 18 missile defense-equipped cruisers and destroyers by 2009.
Finally, Austin Bay has a piece up on TCS Daily today: Hit or Missile:
Our limited anti-missile system isn’t what it should be or could be, and yes, myopic, wrong-headed politics played a key role in delaying program funding, testing and deployment.
The anti-ABM cant of certain influential major media — in the case of The New York Times, a fossil of its 1980s opposition to the Reagan administration — certainly hindered development.
Resistance from McGovernite Democrats was a potent and problematic factor in Washington. The Cold War’s “balance of terror” strategy created a “strategic culture” wedded to the notion of “Mutual Assured Destruction” (appropriately named MAD). If the Soviets launched a missile strike against the United States, U.S. retaliatory capabilities ensured that Moscow would be turned to radioactive glass. An ABM, in the MAD minds, altered the certainty of mutual Armageddon. An ABM “destabilized” the ability to assure Moscow and Washington they would both perish in a nuclear exchange.
The rise of rogue states and fanatic, “suicide” terrorist organizations, combined with the proliferation of ballistic missiles and WMDs, turned MAD into utter madness.
A suicide bomber cannot be deterred by the threat of “mutual destruction.”
Read the whole thing.