The initial missile defense system will consist of six ground-launched interceptor missiles. They will be based in Alaska. Four other missiles would be placed in California over a two-year period starting in 2004. By 2005, 30 more would be deployed including 20 sea-based missiles on warships.
The Bush Administration says the system will defend the country against threats posed by hostile states or terrorist groups that seek weapons of mass destruction.
But the defense project has come under fire from critics who say it’s too costly and doesn’t work. Daryl Kimball, Executive Director of the Arms Control Association, is outraged.
“The reason why President Bush wants to deploy a handful of ineffective interceptor missiles in Alaska before 2004 is because he needs a defense against the Republican right before the election comes up in 2004.”
So far in tests, three of eight attempts to hit a missile in space with another missile have failed. However Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says deployment should begin now, as the system is being perfected.
“In the event it were needed it would be able to provide you some limited capability to deal with a limited number of ballistic missiles which is better than nothing.”
In the next two years the Bush Administration plans to spend 17 billion dollars to get the defense system up and running. Once in place U.S. military officials say it will be able to shoot down any long-range missiles fired at the United States.