Vice Adm. James Syring, director of the MDA (Missile Defense Agency, updated last week’s attendees of the Space and Missile Defense Symposium on the programs the Missile Defense Agency has in place to protect not only the war fighter, but the nation’s homeland and its allies.
Those programs are becoming more and more important, Syring said, as the threat increases. Not counting the U.S., Russia, China or NATO, roughly 6,000 ballistic missiles exist in the world today – by 2020 that number is expected to increase to 7,950. “The threat over the last couple of years has certainly escalated,” Syring said. “It has influenced a lot of the decisions we have made in missile defense to better posture ourselves against the threat.”
All one has to do is look at the news to see images of the North Koreans parading their KN-08 missiles through the streets to realize the global threat is real and imminent. Currently in the process of developing a road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missile and an intermediate-range ballistic missile, North Korea’s weapons could potentially reach Guam, the Aleutian Islands, and even Hawaii, according to Syring. Iran, too, is increasing its force through the deployment of short- and medium-range ballistic missiles.
While defending the U.S. and its allies may seem daunting, defense secretary Chuck Hagel outlined in March several actions being taken to counter the nation’s adversaries, which Syring expanded on during his remarks. Those priorities include:
- Deploying 14 ground-based interceptors to Fort Greely, Alaska, by fiscal year 2017
- Deploying an additional AN/TPY-2, anti-ballistic missile radar that will provide early warning and tracking of launched missiles to Japan
- Conducting environmental impact studies for a potential additional interceptor site in the continental U.S.
- Restructure the Standard Missile 3 IIB program into a common kill vehicle technology program