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JSPES, Vol. 29, No. 2 (Summer 2004 )
pp. 131-141

BMD - Fact & Fiction

Eugene Fox & Stanley Orman

The Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) program initiated by President Reagan under the name Strategic Defense Initiative has now been in development for a full 20 years. During that time the annual budget has grown from around $3B to over $9B, with well over $70B having been expended.

The Defense Secretary has stated that BMD has now become the number one priority program. In light of that statement it seems reasonable to assess the progress being made against the stated requirements for the system. In this article we review what has been accomplished, and assess the realism of achieving an effective defense against the broad range of missiles that are being developed and proliferated around the world.

The present program calls for the deployment of a ground based defense system in Alaska later this year, with improvements to the system to be incorporated periodically as technology matures. We conclude that without the introduction of space-based interceptors and a far more rigorous testing program, the present program is inadequate to meet the stated requirement.