News & AnalysisMILITARY RESEARCH

A Midcourse Correction For U.S. Missile Defense System

Science  29 Mar 2013:
Vol. 339, Issue 6127, pp. 1508-1509
DOI: 10.1126/science.339.6127.1508

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Summary

Two weeks after being sworn in as U.S. secretary of defense, Chuck Hagel made a surprise announcement on 15 March: the government would bolster its national missile defense system by buying $1 billion worth of new equipment. What Hagel didn't stress is that the bulking up of U.S.-based defenses also appears to mark the end of an even more ambitious—and controversial—Obama administration plan to base interceptors in Europe that could protect the United States from a potential missile strike from nations such as Iran. As for the older U.S.-based system, critics say the Pentagon has seriously understated the time and money it will take to make it fully functional. But some scientists question whether the new plan is also deeply flawed.