The technology is farther along than you realize. Granted, we are still in the initial phases of developing a missile defense doctrine, but the technologies are moving along into advanced stages of testing. In addition to the interceptors at Fort Greeley and Vandenburg Air Force Base, sea-based interceptors were successfully tested earlier this year, the airborne laser project is moving along well and will enter the main round of testing next year, and new land-based and space-based missile interceptors are in development.
One thing that surprised me - especially considering all the debating points that by adopting missile defense, America would isolate itself from the world - is the level of international involvement. Britain and Denmark have agreed to upgrade radars in Britain and Greenland for missile defense purposes; Poland overtly and the Czech Republic quietly have been intently exploring missile defense, with each volunteering to host a European missile interceptor base. Australia is on board, Canada is reconsidering its stance, and India is talking about it to the U.S. But more seriously than anyone else, Japan is working with America on all aspects of missile defense:
But no member of this amorphous IMD coalition seems more serious about the threat than Japan. With Kim Jong-Il just next door, that's understandable. According to the MDA, the Japanese system already includes a network of new ground-based radars; SM-3 interceptors, which attack incoming missiles at their highest point; missile-tracking Aegis warships, which patrol near rogue countries; and Patriot PAC-3s, which serve as a last line of defense. Last month, Japan agreed to deploy a new X-band radar near Misawa to support US and Japanese anti-missile assets. The two allies also agreed to establish a joint air and missile defense base at Yakota Air Base by 2010.There is a reason though: more than any other nation, Japan feels threatened by ballistic missiles from North Korea, and it's a good reason. In 1998, North Korea tested a medium-range ballistic missile, firing the missile well into the Pacific Ocean - and right over Japan, without any warning. It was a blunt message to Japan: we can hit any target in your country, from Honshu to Okinawa.
Plus, as the Claremont Institute's project on missile defense reported last month, the US and Japan have agreed to deploy new batteries of PAC-3 interceptor missiles at the Kadena Air Base in Okinawa. "Japan also plans to deploy PAC-3 batteries at bases in the Saitama and Shizuoka prefectures near Tokyo," according to Claremont. The two nations are also committed to co-developing a newer version of the SM-3.
So the threat is there. And we're doing something about it.
[Crossposted to The Wasatch Front.]