Reagan’s Star Wars Program…More than $200 Billion Later
In March 1983, President Ronald Reagan launched the Strategic Defense Initiative to develop and deploy an impenetrable shield to protect the United States from a Soviet missile attack. The ambitious and costly program, dubbed “Star Wars,” is now in its fourth decade, having consumed $209 billion while never being tested, even on a limited scale, in the heat of battle.
Instead of deploying lasers and other high-tech weaponry in space, as proposed under Reagan, SDIO relies on interceptors based in Alaska and California, as well as aboard 26 naval vessels to shoot down any intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) fired at the U.S.
Military officials are confident the system will work, if the U.S. finds itself under attack. They point to numerous tests in which SM-3 interceptors successfully destroyed dummy warheads.
But many experts question the reliability of the current missile defense.
The Department of Defense’s tests only offer “the appearances of success,” according to George Lewis, a physicist at Cornell University and Theodore Postol, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who assessed SDIO in a 2010 report.
Lewis and Postol expressed concerns because in each U.S. test, the trajectory, timing of the launch and the type of missile being fired were all known in advance.
The tests have amounted to “carefully orchestrated scenarios that have been designed to hide fundamental flaws,” they wrote.
To Learn More:
Ronald Reagan’s ‘Star Wars’ Project Still Hasn’t Met Original Goal 30 Years Later (by Dan De Luce, Agence-France Presse)
The Real Price of Ballistic Missile Defenses (by Stephen Schwartz, WMD Junction)
Strategic Defense Initiative (Wikipedia)
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