On Sunday, a ground-based interceptor fired from Vandenberg Air Force Base destroyed a mock enemy warhead launched from the Marshall Islands. The Pentagon hailed it as a major success for the troubled national missile defense system, which has cost $40 billion since 2004. But, in truth, it changes little.
As I previously wrote, the U.S. Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system has been plagued by mismanagement and design flaws since the Bush administration decided to rush it into development ten years ago. The National Academy of Sciences' National Research Council published a 260-page study, saying that the U.S. Missile Defense Agency's efforts "have spawned an almost 'hobby shop' approach, with many false starts on poorly analyzed concepts." Yet, despite numerous failed tests, the U.S. spent billions deploying 30 interceptor missiles at Fort Greeley, Alaska, and Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. The Pentagon says it plans to deploy another 14 interceptors in Alaska by 2017. Meanwhile, Congress has authorized funding for a third site on the East Coast.