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JSPES, Vol. 31, No. 1 (Spring 2006 )
pp. 3-11

Ballistic Missile Defense: A Review of Development Problems

E. Fox & S. Orman

This article examines the manner by which ballistic missile defense (BMD) could be integrated with the longstanding concept of deterrence through the threat of overwhelming retaliation to enhance international security. Despite recent attention given to terrorism, the threat of ballistic missile attack on cities and military establishments has not subsided, and the authors conclude that effective BMD defenses remain a priority. Furthermore the level of effectiveness should be demonstrated to potentially hostile nations through well-publicized testing programs.

They assert that the BMD system that is currently being deployed may have some capability against small, unsophisticated raids, but express concern that enhancements under development may not significantly increase the overall capability. In their opinion, far too much reliance has been placed on simulations that lack validation through actual flight-testing. Congressional oversight of the program has been sadly lacking, and since its inception in 1983, BMD has consumed more than $100B but still does not have a proven capability against even the simplest of threats. In their opinion, unless Congressional oversight improves, there is a distinct risk of yet more money being wasted in poorly-managed activities.

Yet BMD continues to have a vital role in maintaining security in a world in which proliferation of warhead and missile technology to additional nations has significantly increased the dangers of unprovoked attacks in future years.