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US missile defense system unreliable: Study

16 July 2016 10:50

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The US missile defense system designed to defend American cities and towns against a limited nuclear attack is ineffective and “unable to protect the US public,” according to a new report.

The Ground-based Midcourse Defense system (GMD, which is projected to cost $40 billion by 2017, is “in tatters” after years of neglect, according to a 60-page report by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

The report says that the rocket interceptors, based in California and Alaska, have not been able to destroy most mock enemy missiles during heavily-scripted tests.

Nearly 15 years after the George W. Bush administration began deploying the system, it has not been demonstrated to work under real-world conditions and will remain ineffective unless Congress exerts rigorous oversight, the report said.

“The missile defense system is one of the most expensive and complex military systems in history, yet it is the only major defense program not subject to standard ‘fly before you buy’ performance standards,” said UCS Senior Scientist Laura Grego, the report’s lead author.

“Fifteen years of this misguided, hands-off approach has resulted in a costly system that won’t protect the homeland.”

The GMD system is intended to thwart a “limited” nuclear strike by a non-superpower adversary, such as North Korea.

“The story of this system is a cautionary tale about how the lack of appropriate oversight of a politically charged missile defense program has led to a system in tatters,” said the report.

Officials at the US Defense Department have also made “unsubstantiated claims about the system’s effectiveness,” the report says, calling this “both cynical and a disservice to the public.’’

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