Missile Defense Agency Director Lt. Gen. Patrick O'Reilly this week outlined the effects of the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty on the U.S. Ballistic Missile Defense System.
For one thing, the new treaty "has no constraints on current and future components of the BMDS development or deployment," O'Reilly said at a hearing yesterday of the House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee. The new pact contains language that prohibits the conversion of intercontinental or submarine-launched ballistic missile launchers to missile defense launchers, and vice versa, while “grandfathering” the five former ICBM silos at Vandenberg AFB already converted for Ground Based Interceptors, according to his prepared remarks.
MDA never had a plan to convert additional ICBM silos at Vandenberg (Air Force Base in California) and intends to hedge against increased BMDS requirements by completing construction of Missile Field 2 at Fort Greely (in Alaska). Moreover, we determined that if more interceptors were to be added at Vandenberg AFB, it would be less expensive to build a new GBI missile field (which is not prohibited by the treaty).
As for SLBM launchers, MDA a while ago looked at the idea of launching interceptors from submarines "and found it an unattractive and extremely expensive option," the general said. "As the committee knows, we have a very good and significantly growing capability for sea-based missile defense on Aegis-capable ships."
The New START Treaty also "reduces constraints on the development of the missile defense program," O'Reilly said. Specifically:
Unless they have New-START accountable first stages (which we do not plan to use), our targets will no longer be subject to START constraints, which limited our use of air-to-surface and waterborne launches of targets which are essential for the cost-effective testing of missile defense interceptors against MRBM and IRBM targets in the Pacific area. In addition, under New START, we will no longer be limited to five space launch facilities for target launches.