Trump's new missile defense strategy eyes space-based sensors


Stronger missile defenses will protect the homeland, deter enemies, and protect allies, while helping the United States to project power globally in support of allies and partners. Under our plan, that will change. "The US will now adjust its posture to also defend against any missile strikes, including cruise and hypersonic missiles".

Among the options under consideration to protect the United States from increasing missile threats are adding a third location of ground-based missile interceptors to the 40 in Alaska and four located in California, an official said.

Part of the new strategy is to create a level of sensors in space.

Recognizing the potential concerns surrounding any perceived weaponization of space, the strategy pushes for studies.

In a report released earlier this week, the Pentagon warned that China has made advances in hypersonic technology that, "in some areas" "already leads the world", potentially allowing Beijing to develop weapons that are far more hard to detect.

Yet Acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan, speaking prior to Trump, said the Pentagon is making a policy shift to integrate offensive and defensive capabilities. The Pentagon "will increase investments in and deploy new technologies and concepts, and adapt existing weapons systems to field new capabilities rapidly at lower cost", the report said. One is a hypersonic glide vehicle, which could fly 20 times faster than the speed of sound and make sharp maneuvers to avoid being detected by missile defense systems.

"Developments in hypersonic propulsion will revolutionize warfare by providing the ability to strike targets more quickly, at greater distances, and with greater firepower", Lieutenant-General Robert Ashley, director of the Defence Intelligence Agency, told Congress a year ago.

Pentagon officials contend that USA missiles defenses are too few to be able to counter a first-strike on the U.S. homeland by a major nuclear power, like Russian Federation or China.

Current US missile defence weapons are based on land and aboard ships.

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In addition to a space focus, the MDR breaks down the threat into two camps: protecting the US homeland and defending USA forces overseas from any missile source.

The Pentagon wants to put a constellation of sensors above the Earth that can track missiles as they launch, and is recommending a study of weapons that can shoot down missiles from space.

Trump ordered the missile defence review in 2017, amid heightened tensions with Pyongyang over its nuclear programme - the first such review of America's ballistic defences since 2010. The Russian leader argued at the time that his campaign to modernize Moscow's military might came in response to world powers ignoring Russian interests, arguing, "You will listen to us now".

In a speech delivered in the Pentagon, Trump made claims for the planned missile defence system that went far beyond the capabilities of the systems, even according to his own administration's review.

The release of the strategy was postponed past year for unexplained reasons, though it came as Trump was trying to persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons. Senior administration officials, asked whether there is still a threat from North Korea, deflected.

But Trump has since met North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un in a bid to end the crisis, and he was expected to welcome a top North Korean official in Washington on Friday.

While the US continues to pursue peace with North Korea, Pyongyang has made threats of nuclear missile attacks against the USA and its allies in the past and has worked to improve its ballistic missile technology.

The new missile defence review also envisages the addition of a new layer of satellites that would be able to spot enemy missiles at launch.