US offers flexiblity on Euro missile defense

Physics Today
August 26, 2009

The Pentagon is signaling to Russia that plans for an extensive European missile defense system (EMDS) could be scaled back.

The original EMDS proposal was to use interceptors similar to those based in Alaska, with a X-band tracking radar located in the Czech Republic and the interceptors based in Poland. The EMDS would protect Europe and the US from missiles launched in the Middle East by destroying them mid-flight.

However Russia objected to the EMDS sites accusing the US of attempting to weaken their security and trying to gain influence in a region that they see as under Russian geo-political influence.

To limit these concerns, and after a new Pentagon analysis suggests the likelihood that the US will face an intercontinental missile threat is a lot weaker than previously believed, the US military is recommending that a land-based SM-3 system be deployed instead says Aviation Week.

The SM-3 can, in theory, destroy mid-range missiles aimed at Europe, but not long-range intercontinental missiles aimed at the US, either from the Middle East or launched from Russia. The SM-3 would still make use of a radar station in the Czech Republic.

“The reality is [long-range intercontinental missiles] did not come as fast as we thought it’d come,” said General James Cartwright, vice chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaking at a missile-defence conference in Alabama last week.

The Pentagon is currently in the midst of a major review of all its missile defense programs and a number of exotic technologies, such as the Multiple Kill Vehicle (MKV) are likely to be canceled. …