Ballistic Missile Defence: Likely Meaningful Completion or Irrational Indulgence?

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  • October 2003

    The demand for an infallible missile and homeland defence against anticipatory threats from adversarial state actors as well as amorphous non-state actors has become accentuated in the US in the post-9/11 era. In consonance, the importance of anti-missile defence shield has grown in primacy and has witnessed a changing orientation to an amalgamation of an integrated Layered Defence System. However, the two main question on the development of such a system are whether it will reach a meaningful completion and whether such a system will be cost-effectived. The project has been facing considerable opposition both politically (internationally and nationally) and technically. Part of the technical opposition has been instrumental in inducing many changes in the system verification procedures and its likely architectural aspects. Some of the individual components of the system are still far from being deployed but many are nearing completion/are already deployed. Given the current determination of the Bush Administration and the state of testing, a rudimentary, nascent, North Korea-centric GMS may well be in place by 2005-2006. Due to an absence of a formatted comprehensive architecture and variables such as political will in future, cost estimates of the system have swung very widely (US$ 60 billion to US$ 238 billion to US$ 1 trillion!!). But the basic question has always remained — at what price the feeling of security? Especially in a security phobic post-9/11 era.

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