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(Top photo) A United States OC-135 Open Skies aircraft takes off from Offutt Air Force Base, NE. (Bottom photo) A Russian Tu-214ON in flight. (Top Photo: DVIDS - U.S. Air Force photo by Charles J. Haymond; Bottom Photo: Wikicommons - Oleg Belyakov)

On Friday, the United States submitted its notice to the other parties of its intent to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty that was first envisioned by President Eisenhower in 1955 to create stability within a nuclear arms race and stability within a Mutual Assured Destruction doctrine that enabled arms control. Six months after this notice, the U.S. will no longer be a part of the treaty and its required obligations. In 1992, twenty six countries signed the Open Skies Treaty with the United States and Russia as a strategic message of unity and trust in transparency in keeping stability with Russia and the United States. As part of treaty, the U.S. operates a OC-135B Open Skies aircraft and Russia operates the Tupolev Tu-214ON, Tupolev Tu-154M-LK1, and AN-30 to conduct short notice reconnaissance flyovers of the other parties’ territory. These 27-year old U.S. planes that we are refurbishing, maintaining and manning at a cost of $250 million and with an expected new replacement plane are becoming redundant in the technologies being used today and in the future for surveillance of Russia. The essential mission and effect that they were designed for in 1993 is in existence across all five domains with advanced technologies to clearly know what Russia does in terms of weapon testing, development, and deployment.

The United States’ intent and resolve to withdraw from arms control treaties with Russia on the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) and now Clear Skies though violations and outdated were factors, it is primary driven by competition with China which these treaties do not include, restrict, or offer transparency of China and its weapons proliferation. The withdrawal aligns with the 2018 National Defense Strategy as recognizing both Russia and China as near-peer competitors. China has clearly established itself as a global power and asserted its intent for global dominance, which it will by no means inhibit or restrict its “one belt one road” strategy by signing an arms control treaty with the United States and Russia. Future arms control with Russia, while having no arms control restrictions with China does not abide, secure, or follow the intent of the National Defense Strategy of the United States of America. The world, our allies, and our nation would be safer and more secure if all three of these superpowers agreed, complied with, and validated together a wide spectrum of arms control from hypersonics to nuclear weapons.

Missile defense both regional and strategic now becomes even more vital and a critical requirement for stability and security of the United States and its allies. Dynamic and evolving missile defense capabilities with allies and partners, that entails integrated layers of cross-domain capabilities and effectors to bring joint and allied convergence of these systems brings efficiency in cost and capability to provide stability and deterrence today against all threats. China and Russia continue to increase investment and aggressive behavior to test, develop, and deploy complex cruise, ballistic, and hypersonic missiles from standoff ranges for anti-access and area denial (A2/AD) zones in international waters, other states’ territories, and space to challenge the United States and its allies.

Future space based and airborne discrimination sensors for over the horizon persistent warning, tracking and fire control for the full spectrum of threat missiles have to be enabled on mass and cheap capabilities that can be replaced, upgraded, and prolific. Focus and resources are specifically going towards deploying the Hypersonic and Ballistic Tracking Space Sensor (HBTSS). HBTSS will be a global and persistent constellation of low earth orbit (LEO) sensors that can do wide and narrow focus on a spectrum of missile threats to provide detailed discrimination, tracking, and targeting data to the current Command and Control, Battle Management, and Communications (C2BMC), the future Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2), and Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS) to enable convergence of effectors and fires. HBTSS will be a game changer, leveling the cost curve and being a rapid risk mitigator for all effectors/fires/interceptors deployed today and in the future.

Deployed regional and strategic missile defense capabilities can provide a bridge of stability of deterrence to find a hopeful equal arms control participation amongst China, Russia and the United States.

Mission Statement

MDAA’s mission is to make the world safer by advocating for the development and deployment of missile defense systems to defend the United States, its armed forces and its allies against missile threats.

MDAA is the only organization in existence whose primary mission is to educate the American public about missile defense issues and to recruit, organize, and mobilize proponents to advocate for the critical need of missile defense. We are a non-partisan membership-based and membership-funded organization that does not advocate on behalf of any specific system, technology, architecture or entity.