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Bush Favors Multi-Layered Missile Defense (July 11)

There is a difference between the Clinton and the Bush administrations "in their approach" to missile defense, Defense Department spokesman Navy Rear Admiral Craig Quigley told a Pentagon briefing July 10.

While the previous administration deferred a decision on deployment to the next administration, the Bush administration has "made it very clear their intentions are to deploy a missile defense system," although the exact mechanics and timetable are not yet set, he said.

Had the Clinton administration decided to deploy missile defense, they favored "a ground-based interceptor," Quigley said. That system, he said, "will be tested this Saturday night (July 14)."

He said Bush administration officials have chosen to go with "a multi-layered approach, perhaps some ground-based, perhaps some sea-based. It all depends on where you want to intercept the missile on its flight - boost phase, mid-course, terminal; different architecture, different physics involved in the speed and the angles and the types of equipment. So it's a much more layered approach as opposed to the single, ground-based approach of the previous administration."

"A lot of research and development and testing" needs to be done "in the months and years ahead to determine which of the systems that we'll be testing show promise," he added.

Responding to a question on whether the X Band radar is to be on Shemya Island in Alaska's Aleutian Island chain, as previously planned, he said he would be "hard-pressed to break it out as a stand-alone issue from the development of the test-bed system. That would be one piece of the test-bed that is being proposed for the Vandenberg-Alaska area to do a lot of the testing for the time ahead."

Quigley said the goal of the missile defense program "is to have a robust test and development program, (and) use that data to determine the most effective systems to provide the best quality of missile defense."

Other alternatives to a ground-based system that will be explored "in the months and years ahead," he said, will be "various means of intercepting missiles in the boost, mid-course and terminal phase. And you could have some combination of sea-based, air-based, ground-based, airborne laser - a variety of systems will receive research and development testing and emphasis in the time ahead. Which ones will pan out, time will tell."

Saying that two tests have already failed, a reporter asked if a failure of the July 14 test would mean an end to the ground-based idea. The spokesman said that notion is too simplistic. In each one of the previous tests, Quigley said, "we've increased our body of knowledge an incredible amount. You would like to have a hit every time ... realistically, that's not going to happen. But you learn from each test you do and refine your program, your hardware, your software, the processes that you use to test the systems, and you are ever approaching a system that works more effectively."

He quoted Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld as saying the next test will probably achieve "a wide range of good data points ... (and) we will learn in all cases and advance our knowledge. That is what testing is for."

Two things will be different about the July 14 test, he said. "The geometry of the test (is) very similar to last year's. The target will be a Minuteman II booster launched from Vandenberg and the interceptor will be launched from Kwajelein, so the mechanics of that are identical to last year.

"But you have a lot of new software that has been developed for use in a variety of systems and the decoy, the balloon, that will be onboard the mockup of the warhead has a higher reliability and its thermal signature will be much more like that of the intended warhead. So it will be more of a challenge for the discrimination to test."

He said Air Force Lieutenant General Ronald Kadish's scheduled Pentagon press briefing July 13 will discuss the upcoming test in greater detail. Kadish directs the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO).


Missile Defense : Pentagon Spokesman Says Bush Favors Multi-Layered Approach