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29 March 2004

International Interest in Missile Defense Rising, Kadish Says

Defense Department Report, March 29: Missile Defense Update

The director of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) says governments and companies around the world are expressing greater interest in participating in the widening effort to develop defenses against ballistic missiles.

Air Force Lieutenant General Ron Kadish told members of Congress March 25 that the United States is working "with key allies to put in place mechanisms that would provide for lasting cooperative efforts" in this field.

Kadish told the House Armed Services Committee's Subcommittee on Strategic Forces that Japan is the first ally so far "to proceed with acquisition of a multi-layered BMD (Ballistic Missile Defense) system, basing its initial capability on upgrades of its Aegis destroyers and acquisition of the SM-3 (Standard) missile." Elements of the project will be flight tested in 2005 and 2006, he said.

The MDA director also pointed out that the United States and the United Kingdom signed an agreement last year that will permit the upgrade of an early warning radar in Fylingdales, a British site. And, he said, consultations continue with Denmark regarding the need to upgrade the Thule radar site in Greenland.

Kadish said Australia has announced plans to participate in cooperative missile defense efforts. In addition, he said Canada is looking at ways the U.S.-Canadian North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) might pursue a BMD role.

He also said work continues with Israel on the Arrow (Missile) System Improvement Program and that efforts are under way to determine how to enhance Israel's missile defense capability. "We are also establishing a capability in the United States to co-produce specified Arrow interceptor missile components," he said, "which will help Israel meet its defense requirements more quickly and maintain the U.S. industrial work share."

Efforts to include Russia in the missile defense program are also advancing. Kadish said the two countries are developing software "to support the ongoing U.S.-Russian Theater Missile Defense exercise program."

The director said other international interoperability and technical cooperation projects are ongoing and there are plans "to establish formal agreements with other governments."

Libya's recent admission regarding ballistic missile and weapons of mass destruction programs remind all "that we are vulnerable," Kadish said. "Ballistic missiles armed with any type warhead would give our adversaries the capability to threaten or inflict catastrophic damage," he said, which is why layered missile defenses are so important.

Layered defenses, he explained, provide better protection because a missile can be engaged at any point in its flight path, making "it possible to have a high degree of confidence in the performance of the missile defense system." Kadish also reminded members of Congress who review the administration's spending requests for missile defense that program redundancy "is a virtue." The MDA is asking for $7.6 billion in research, development, testing and evaluation money in fiscal year 2005.

Whatever the MDA pursues in 2004 and 2005 is only a starting point, Kadish said in his prepared testimony. "Our strategy is to build on this beginning to make the BMD system increasingly more effective and reliable against current threats and hedge against changing future threats."

In an effort to build a basic capability, Kadish said the first program elements will be put on alert this year, including: up to 20 ground-based interceptors at Fort Greely, Alaska, and Vandenberg, Air Force Base in California; an updated Cobra Dane radar on Eareckson Air Station in Shemya, Alaska; and upgraded radar in the United Kingdom.

By the end of next year, he said, the United States will have equipment for three BMD-capable Aegis cruisers with up to 10 SM-3 missiles. "Additionally," he said, "10 Aegis destroyers will be modified with improved SPY-1 radars to provide flexible long-range surveillance and track[ing] capability of ICBM [intercontinental ballistic missile] threats by the end of 2005, with an additional five destroyers with this capability by 2006, for a total of 15 Aegis BMD destroyers and three Aegis BMD cruisers."

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:

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