Tuesday, August 5, 2008

European Missile Defense Update

Last week, the Center released an update on missile defense in Europe. Authored by NoH's own Kingston Reif, the report concludes that two recent developments have all but ensured that the "third site" will not be completed by the Bush administration's 2013 target date, and that it will fall to the next President to determine the fate of the European deployment.

First, the Czech and Polish governments are still far from giving final approval to place elements of the U.S. missile defense system on their territories. The 2008 National Defense Authorization Act passed by Congress included a provision limiting construction on the third site until the Polish and Czech governments give final approval.

Second, unlike U.S. missile defense interceptors currently deployed in Alaska and California, which are powered by three-stage booster rockets, the interceptors planned for Europe will have only two stages. The two-stage configuration has yet to be tested, and many experts have expressed concerns about its readiness for realistic combat scenarios.

According to a report released by Dr. Charles McQueary, the Department of Defense's Director, Operational Test & Evaluation, a robust test program of the system consisting of at least three flight tests is necessary for any determination of operational effectiveness. Initially, Bush administration officials ignored the Dr. McQueary's assessment and continued to maintain that the two-stage interceptor only required two tests.

Reif's full report can be found here.

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