Dear members and friends,
This past Friday, the first ever sea-based defensive missile was completed and readied for shipment to the United States Navy to be placed on an Aegis Cruiser in the Pacific Ocean, making our world a safer place.
It is a remarkable engineering feat as well as a historic milestone that begins to offer for the first time, to our nation, our troops overseas and our allies, a capability to defeat ballistic missiles through the mobility of a sea-based platform- the Aegis Cruiser. On behalf of MDAA and the American public MDAA represents, we sincerely thank and appreciate the thousands of men and women that have worked and dedicated themselves to bringing the Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) forward at such a critical time.
This limited capability has given the United States an immediate ability to protect U.S. troops, civilians and allies who reside in the Korean Peninsula and Japan from a North Korean ballistic missile threat. It also can address a real solution from threats from sea-based platforms such as container ships launching ballistic missiles (Scuds) at our homeland from international waters.
The SM-3 has the capability of destroying short range through medium range ballistic missiles in flight through the use of a non-explosive, kinetic energy warhead traveling at 3.7 miles a second. The SM-3 is twenty-one feet long and fits into the launch tubes on Aegis Ships. The SM-3 uses two discrimination technologies to locate the target, plus continual upgrade communications from radars located on Aegis ships as well as on land.
The United States Navy has ordered five missiles for 2004, with an additional order of up to twenty more missiles in 2005. These missiles will most likely be deployed amongst three Aegis Cruisers to be put on patrol in waters near volatile regimes and crisis areas. The cost of the sea-based system is around 10% of the Congressional allocated annual funds directed for missile defense.
This component of a sea-based missile defense capability offers a multi-layered defense to our homeland as it complements and assists the soon to be operational ground-based interceptors based in Fort Greely, Alaska and in Vandenberg, California.
We need much more than what is ordered to insure our public safety and the safety of the world from the proliferation of ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction, but this is a positive and much needed start.
And as the Election Day nears I want to remind you that every vote does count towards our efforts to protect our families, communities and country. I urge you to motivate and inspire ten of your fellow citizens to vote.