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We, former Directors of President Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), pioneered technologies and acquisition efforts for ballistic missile defense (BMD) systems protecting our homeland now and, or soon to be, operating around the world by U.S. troops and our allies, e.g., Israel, Japan, Romania, Poland, South Korea, and Guam. We welcome recognition of the growing threat and support all ongoing efforts to counter it, particularly from North Korea.
As our SDI efforts recognized, there are gaps in defending wide-areas with only such land- and sea-based BMD systems, in part because of potentially unavailable launch sites and cost-considerations.
Defenses - President - Reagan - SDI - Vision
Thus, space-based defenses were integral to President Reagan’s SDI vision and why he walked out of the 1986 Reykjavik Summit when Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev demanded that they be scuttled. Many believe his Reykjavik SDI commitment led to a major change in Soviet strategy and ultimately the breakup of the Soviet Union “without firing a shot,” as stated by Britain’s Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
Space-based defenses should be front and center in President Trump’s announced plans to increase BMD funding. He should emphasize this initiative, given that many incorrectly believe the needed technology is not available, or that such defenses would be too expensive — as claimed by a recent National Defense News article indicating that a space based system might cost from $67 to $109 billion in constant 2017 dollars.
System - Pebbles - Watch - Thirty - Years
However, a much less expensive cost-effective system called, “Brilliant Pebbles,” was advancing on our watch thirty years ago. We recently reported in The Wall Street Journal that the Pentagon’s acquisition authorities estimated that system would cost $10 billion in 1988 dollars — now inflated to $20 billion — for full development, deployment, and 20-years operations. It was designed to intercept attacking ballistic missiles in their boost-phase while their rockets still burn, before they can...
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