In the wake of ongoing DPRK ICBM threats, the Pentagon is returning to the kind of work it focused on in the mid-20th century: building anti-missile sites to protect against a possible nuclear weapon attack.
The US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) is scouting several sites on the western American coast that could serve as anti-missile defense installations to guard 24/7 against a possible attack from Pyongyang ICBMs topped with miniaturized nuclear warheads, a threat both the US and the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea (DPRK) appear to be preparing for, although with radically different justification.
The installations would likely include the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-ballistic missile network, shown to be consistently more accurate than the existing US Ground-based Midcourse Defense system (GMD) or the US Navy’s Aegis warship-based anti-missile system.
US House Armed Services Committee member and chairman of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee Mike Rogers (R-AL) noted that the MDA was seeking to add additional missile defense sites in the western US coastal regions, although there is no byline in the 2018 Pentagon defense budget detailing the move.
“It’s just a matter of the location, and the MDA making a recommendation as to which site meets their criteria for location,” Rogers mentioned, adding that site studies would include addressing “the environmental impact” on sensitive coastal habitats of installing a high-tech defense arsenal, cited by Reuters.
The MDA deputy director, Rear Admiral Jon Hill was less inclined to speak about new anti-missile installations on the Pacific Ocean, bluntly asserting: “The Missile Defense Agency has received no tasking to site the Terminal High Altitude Air Defense System on the West Coast.”
Lawmaker Rogers, however, would not detail which locations were being considered, although he did suggest that several coastal areas in the US were “competing” to have missile defense installations housed in their districts.
Lockheed Martin, which manufactures and sells the THAAD weapons, issued a standard public-relations statement about potential purchases of its product for use on the US coast, but did not address a specific installation.
A company representative asserted that the for-profit multinational weapons-making corporation “is ready to support the Missile Defense Agency and the United States government in their ballistic missile defense efforts,” according to Reuters.
Several of the highly-mobile THAAD units are deployed in the continental US, but current locations of individual launch units are a closely-guarded secret.