A congressionally mandated study of the Missile Defense Agency’s mission, roles, and structure concluded in 2008 that MDA should focus on ensuring that its systems work rather than deploying more of them. We agree with this assessment.
Given the uncertainty over the effectiveness of even the less technically challenging systems such as THAAD and AEGIS Ballistic Missile Defense system, it is unwise to rush to deploy these systems while they are only semisuccessful. The Missile Defense Agency needs to prove that its existing systems work as advertised before plowing ahead as if these systems have been proven to be effective.
The MDA should continue research and testing on lower-risk missile defense systems such as the AEGIS Ballistic Missile Defense system, THAAD, and the SM-3. All of these systems have the potential to protect American forces in the field from the more realistic threat of theater ballistic missiles and the AEGIS system is also being developed to protect against longer-range missiles. Each of these systems should continue to be perfected to provide the most cost-effective means of missile defense available. Keeping many programs in the RTD&E phase would generate $6 billion in savings in FY 2011.
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