Even though according to Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), the Obama administration has cut funding for missile defenses in half, it has at least come to its senses by turning away from the Standard Missile-3 II-B. Pushed heavily by entrenched special interests, the SM-3 II-B missile is a wildly expensive, flawed theoretical concept which could not be deployed until 2022. Of course, that timeline would be possible only if you believe even the most optimistic government estimates, which assume there will be no technical setbacks. Spending scarce resources on such a long-term time table, while hostile regimes wish to do us harm today, hardly seems like a prudent decision.
The tipping point on this debate came when the GAO and the National Research Council noted that the “boost phase intercept” concept that is central to the SM-3 II-B is not likely feasible. It would be impossible politically to explain spending billions on missiles which now may never exist, when the cheaper route also keeps America safer.
With the dangers America faces, time is of the essence when it comes to missile defense. With billions of dollars and countless man hours already invested to produce current accurate missile technology, the most effective way to bolster our defenses is to reengineer what already exists, and do so quickly.
America simply cannot afford – literally – for the Department of Defense to keep throwing away good money after bad. If it is serious about protecting the homeland and sending a message to Russia and others, breathing life back into the SM-3 II-B is not the way to do it. Fixing the GMD and evolving its hit-to-kill technology is.
Why is a missile defense shield no longer controversial and enjoys bipartisanship support? Because it works. Therefore, as threats evolve, Congress and our military must be nimble enough to swiftly direct already diminished resources into improving what already are the best missiles available today. This is a common sense budgetary decision which will keep America safe.