On July 12, Turkey received the first elements of the S-400, a fourth-generation surface-to-air Russian missile system. Few recent weapon sales have been as geopolitically charged as this one. U.S. officials have threatened both military and economic sanctions should Turkey acquire the Russian system.
In a world where unmanned aerial vehicles are plentiful, cruise missiles are becoming more abundant, and hypersonic boost glide vehicles are just over the horizon, air and missile threats are coming from all directions. To address the realities of this environment, effective defenses require an air and missile defense sensor architecture that looks in all directions as well.
Although the Trump administration has not yet released its Missile Defense Review, as mandated by Congress, it is considering the possible deployment of space-based interceptors. At a time of growing budgetary pressures as well as increased competition with other great powers, the United States can ill afford to waste precious dollars on space-based missile defenses and a new arms race that will make us less, rather than more, secure.
Later this spring, the Trump administration will release its 2018 Missile Defense Review (MDR), which is expected to better align U.S. missile defense policy with the present security environment. President Barack Obama’s 2010 Ballistic Missile Defense Review (BMDR) reflected the security environment of the time and the aspirations of the Obama administration. In particular, technological advances by U.S. adversaries and a renewed focus on long-term competition with Russia and China drive the need for a new review.
Nations around the world continue to develop a growing range of ballistic and cruise missiles to asymmetrically threaten U.S. forces, allies, and the American homeland. Missile defenses have now become an essential part of U.S. defense policy and strategy, and their importance shows no sign of diminishing.