WASHINGTON, April 6, 2006 – The United States now has a rudimentary missile defense system in place, a senior defense official told the Senate's strategic forces subcommittee here April 4.
"The United States today has all the pieces in place needed to intercept an incoming long-range ballistic missile: ground-based interceptors in Alaska and California; a network of ground-, sea- and space-based sensors; a command-and-control network; and, most importantly, trained servicemen and women ready to operate the system, Peter C.W. Flory, assistant defense secretary for international security policy, said in prepared testimony.
The system is still aimed primarily at development and testing, but the capability does exist, he said. Ballistic missile defenses are not as capable today as they will be in the future, Flory said. The system in place is an initial capability.
The program aims at a "spiral" development of the capability. Flory said the program will continue to evolve and continue to gain capability. This is important because the threat is growing, he said. "In 1990, around the end of the Cold War, 16 countries possessed ballistic missiles of varying ranges," he said. "In 2006, 25 countries have them."
Countries with missiles capable of hitting allies or the U.S. homeland have grown from five to nine. Combine the missile threat with the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction and the United States has a severe problem, Flory said.