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Missile Defense Briefing Report - No. 299

Edited by Ilan Berman and Richard Harrison
May 23, 2012


NEW RUSSIAN ICBM IS NO SOLUTION
Russian plans to upgrade their "Voyevoda R-36M2 Satan" intercontinental ballistic missile began in 2009, but are only now coming to fruition. Russian weapons maker NPO Mashinostroyeniya predicts the creation of a new liquid fueled ICBM will take a decade to design and deploy. And when it does do so, it won't be a panacea for current Kremlin concerns over European missile defenses; Russian experts fear that the missile, as currently designed, won't be capable of piercing the missile defense shield currently under construction by the United States and NATO. (
RIA Novosti, May 8, 2012)

PUTIN LOOKS FOR ASSURANCES ON EUROPEAN DEFENSE
Russia's newly reelected president, Vladimir Putin, has wasted no time weighing in on the European missile shield debate. President Putin urged the Russian Foreign Ministry to "consistently maintain Russia's position towards the creation of global U.S. missile defense system [and] push for guarantees that it will not be aimed against Russia's nuclear facilities." Moscow remains worried that the system will undermine its nuclear deterrent, despite repeated pledges from NATO officials that European defenses are meant only to counter threats from Iran.

Russian officials are not just worried about the effect European BMD could have on their strategic arsenal. Russian Space Defense Forces chief Lt. Gen. Oleg Ostapenko has also warned that "ground- and sea-based missile defense systems can be used not only as anti-missile but also anti-satellite weapons." That feature is a particular concern to the Russians, because an expansion of U.S. missile defense capabilities worldwide would afford Washington greater ability to take aim at Russian satellites and space-based assets as well. (
Space Daily, May 7, 2012; Global Security Newswire, May 8, 2012) 

ROK RECONSIDERING LIMITS ON MISSILE RANGE

Officials in Washington and Seoul are at odds over South Korea’s ability to strengthen its offensive missile systems. As part of a 2001 deal with the U.S., South Korea is currently barred from deploying missiles with a range of over 300 kilometers – rendering parts of North Korea beyond the ROK's missile range. But South Korean President Lee Myung-bak has expressed the desire for more robust South Korean ballistic missile capability, and U.S. support of such, before he leaves office next year. The reasons are practical; North Korean missiles are able to reach any part of South Korea, and Seoul wants the capability to similarly hold DPRK targets at risk. (
Seoul Korea Times, May 10, 2012) 

UPGRADED AEGIS SYSTEM ENJOYS SUCCESS
The Block 1B SM-3 AEGIS missile defense system has done what its predecessor could not, obliterating a target missile in a recent test. The upgraded sensors and control systems allowed the missile defense system to track a target and adjust the interceptor’s flight path to destroy it. The new version of the SM-3 will be outfitted on all 23 AEGIS-equipped ships when the interceptor becomes operational in approximately 2015. (
CNN, May 10, 2012) 

THE AIRBORNE LASER RISES AGAIN
Just months after it was officially scrapped, members of the House Armed Committee's Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee are breathing new life into the Airborne Laser. HASC members have added a measure to the current defense authorization bill requesting funding to make the aircraft-based anti-missile program operational again. The ABL program was defunded last year as a result of budget overruns, despite successfully intercepting two missiles in 2010. The revived interest in the system is due in part to North Korea’s recent long range missile test; the Subcommittee has asked that the ABL aircraft “be ready to deploy in an operational contingency, if needed to respond to rapidly developing threats from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.” (
Global Security Newswire, May 1, 2012) 

INDIA'S MISSILE SHIELD MATURES
India has taken another step forward in its development of an indigenous national missile defense program. A successful recent missile interceptor test has led the country's main defense development agency, the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO), to declare that India is now capable of defending two cities against missile attack. Currently, the Indian system is capable of intercepting missiles with a range of 2,000 kilometers, but the DRDO hopes to increase that figure to 5,000 kilometers and configure the system to be autonomous in nature – requiring no human input except to cancel a mission. (
Press Trust of India, May 6, 2012)