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Trump seeks expanded missile defense program

'We will ensure that enemy missiles receive no sanctuary on earth or on the skies above,' president says

17.01.2019
Trump seeks expanded missile defense program

By Michael Hernandez

WASHINGTON

The Trump administration wants expanded space capabilities and high-energy laser technology to further combat missile threats, according to a review released Thursday by the Defense Department.

Formally rolled out by U.S. President Donald Trump at the Pentagon, the Missile Defense Review seeks research and development of space-based sensors and interceptors, and the development of anti-Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) capabilities on mobile platforms such as the F-35.

The study is the first of its kind since one was carried out under former President Barack Obama in 2010. It does not necessarily mean the U.S. will develop the technologies, but it is a bellwether for the kinds of projects the Pentagon is seeking to undertake.

"We will ensure that enemy missiles receive no sanctuary on earth or on the skies above," Trump said, pledging to “always be at the forefront of everything.”

The Pentagon study was originally planned to be released last year, but was delayed.

It "is based on recognition that the threat environment is markedly more dangerous than in years past and demands a concerted U.S. effort to improve existing capabilities for both homeland and regional missile defense," the review says.

"This effort will include a vigorous science and technology research program in addition to the exploration of innovative concepts and advanced technologies that have the potential to provide more cost-effective U.S. defenses against expanding missile threats," it adds.

The review points to threats from four principal countries -- China, Iran, North Korea and Russia -- as well as emerging threats from other states. Trump did not specifically call out any of the nations in his speech.

The study in particular examines the benefits of targeting incoming missiles while they are in their "boost phase," which would be benefited by space-based interceptors and sensors that would more quickly detect launches.

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