The U.S. Defense Department has approved the Next Generation Interceptor project to proceed. This is a welcome signal that the Biden administration intends to counter North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs, strengthen U.S. alliances by increasing the credibility of our security commitments, and seek common ground with Republicans on controversial missile defense policy.
The NGI is a ground-based interceptor missile designed to protect the United States homeland from North Korean and potential Iranian long-range ballistic missiles, and represents an evolutionary upgrade from the ground-based interceptors initially deployed in 2004 in Alaska and California.
To address the emerging long-range missile threat from rogue nations, the Bush administration installed 30 Ground-Based Interceptors, or GBI, by the end of its second term. The Obama administration, reacting to the steadily maturing North Korean missile and nuclear threat, emplaced an additional 14 GBIs by 2017. The Trump administration then directed an additional 20 interceptors to be deployed by the mid- to late 2020s, bringing the total to 64.
Maintaining an “advantageous homeland defense posture against limited ballistic missile threats,” as noted by the 2010 Ballistic Missile Defense Review, has been the guiding principle of U.S. missile defense policy across Republican and Democratic administrations since the end of the Cold War. Protection of the homeland against limited ballistic missile attack by regional actors such as North Korea and Iran has been a goal shared by Congress as well…
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