Tough Choices Ahead for Missile Defense

May 11, 2011
By Robert K. Ackerman
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New technologies that are under development may not appear without hard decisions that must be made in a time of fiscal uncertainty, according to experts on a 2011 Joint Warfighting Conference panel. These decisions must take into account funding for the defensive technologies as well as changes in the force makeup that could remove missile defense deployment options. Vice Adm. Peter H. Daly, USN, deputy commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command, noted that the Aegis ballistic missile defense system is being fielded on a multimission ship-not buttonholed on a mission-specific platform. The versatility of the system has led to its being deployed to Romania, he noted. Building on that, Rear Adm. Joseph A. Horn Jr. USN, program executive, Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense, cited the need for a system having a balanced role in a multimission ship. Future systems should be built off of a strong service foundation, so that sailors can use familiar equipment for an unfamiliar mission. However, Cdr. Bryan McGrath, USN (Ret.), director of Consulting, Studies and Analysis, Delex Systems, Incorporated, decried the drive for warship balance and advocated its elimination. He advocated specialization to achieve the best potential capabilities to deter as well as defend. This may require choosing certain capabilities over others, which in turn will require difficult decisions, he said.

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