Tuesday May 7, 2013
 

 

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Senator urges DoD to choose New York State as site for missile defense system

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) urged the Department of Defense to choose a New York State site to host an East Coast missile defense system, should the Pentagon determine that such a system is cost effective and necessary for national security. The Pentagon is commencing a mandated environmental study, which will help determine if a missile interceptor on the East Coast is viable to deal with threats from nations like Iran.

A missile defense site could take the form of a $3.6 billion investment with at least 20 anti-missile interceptors, according to the Syracuse Post-Standard. U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has said the study will be part of an initial $1 billion effort to expand the West Coast-based missile-defense systems in Alaska and California to protect against growing North Korean and Iranian capabilities. Schumer highlighted an advisory report from the National Research Council which recommended Fort Drum near Watertown, the former Griffiss Air Force Base in Rome and a site in Caribou, Maine as three potential locations for East Coast Missile Defense sites. Schumer is asking the DoD include New York as a prospective site in their environmental review. The DoD has not yet officially selected their top sites.

“Should military experts determine that a new system on the East Coast is necessary, workable and cost-effective, Fort Drum and Griffiss Air Force Base are uniquely capable for the job”, said Schumer.  “A federal investment for missile interceptors in Upstate New York could create thousands of jobs and significant revenue in local communities, just as similar missile defense systems have in California and Alaska. I am urging the Department of Defense to put Fort Drum and Griffiss on its radar for the potential location of a missile defense installation.”

The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 mandates the Director of the Missile Defense Agency to evaluate and conduct an environmental impact statement of three possible additional locations in the United States for an interceptor capable of defending the homeland from threats, and at least two of those locations must be located on the East Coast of the United States. The law also calls for the Department of Defense to evaluate the evolving threat of limited ballistic missile attack from countries such as North Korea and Iran, and consider other possibilities for operationally significant steps to improve the posture of the United States to defend the homeland. A recent study funded by the Missile Defense Agency, and conducted by a team of experts at the National Research Council, highlighted the current inadequacy of our missile defense infrastructure on the East Coast. President Barack Obama's budget proposal released last month included $3.6 million for the study. The current missile defense system includes 30 interceptors – 26 at Fort Greely, Alaska and four at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

The proposed missile defense site would help protect the East Coast against Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs), which are ballistic missiles with a range of more than 3,400 miles designed for nuclear weapons delivery. Most modern designs support multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs), allowing a single missile to carry several warheads, each of which can strike a different target. Additionally, ICBMs are generally considered to be nuclear only, although several conceptual designs of conventionally armed missiles have been considered. Reaching speeds of 4.3mi/sec, ICBMs are difficult to intercept and allow for little warning. Due to the possible locations of submarines which can fire ICBMs, the missiles can strike anywhere in the world within approximately 30 minutes. As of 2009, all five of the nations with permanent seats on the United Nations Security Council have operational long-range ballistic missile systems.