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Rep. Weldon proposes US-Israeli boost-phase missile defense

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  • Josh Pollack
    Aerospace Daily July 27, 2001 Rep. Weldon To Propose U.S.-Israeli Boost-Phase Missile Defense Program Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Pa.), a senior member of the House
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 27, 2001
      Aerospace Daily
      July 27, 2001

      Rep. Weldon To Propose U.S.-Israeli Boost-Phase Missile Defense Program

      Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Pa.), a senior member of the House Armed Services
      Committee, plans to propose that the U.S. and Israel begin joint development
      of a boost-phase missile defense system, the congressman announced July 26.

      At a Capitol Hill briefing with Israeli Minister of Public Security Uzi
      Landau, Weldon revealed that he intends to send a letter to his
      congressional colleagues and the Bush Administration seeking their support
      to start work on such a program.

      Weldon said he believes seed money could come from the fiscal 2002 defense
      budget now under consideration in Congress, since the Administration has
      requested
      a $3 billion, or 57 percent, increase for missile defense.

      "The Israelis are already looking at this technology. We're already looking
      at it," the congressman said. "It's time to join forces and look at it
      together."

      Arrow seen as model

      The program would be modeled after U.S.-Israel efforts to jointly develop
      the land-based Arrow missile defense system, which became operational in
      Israel last
      year. Neither the Arrow nor the Tactical High Energy Laser, another
      land-based missile defense system that the U.S. and Israel have been jointly
      developing, could
      shoot down missiles in their boost phase.

      Weldon asserted that there is a need to focus on a boost-phase system so
      Israel can shoot down missiles while they're still over enemy territory.

      "The Arrow program is good, but it's hitting the missile in the descent
      phase," he said. "The debris is going to continue to come in and reign
      terror on the people. We
      have to take the missile out in the ascent phase."

      "It's time to move to the next generation," Weldon added.

      Although Israel needs such a system to counter threats that already exist,
      the U.S. could use it to address those that are expected to emerge in the
      next few years,
      according to Weldon.

      "We eventually need the same kind of capability," he said. "Israel needs it
      yesterday and we need it tomorrow."

      Air, space-based assets eyed

      The boost-phase system envisioned by Weldon would likely involve air or
      space-based sensors and lasers.

      "They need to have assets that let them see a missile coming from Iran or
      Iraq as soon as it's fired and take it out as soon as it's fired," Weldon
      said. "You're talking
      about seconds."

      Weldon believes that European nations, Turkey and Russia should be
      considered for participation in such a system, but that the U.S. and Israel
      should still lead the
      program.

      Landau and House Armed Services Committee member Robert Andrews (D-N.J.),
      who also attended the briefing, both expressed interest in such an effort.

      Landau said Israel favors a layered missile defense system so it has several
      chances to shoot down an incoming missile. Since a missile fired by Iraq
      would hit Israel
      in only five to seven minutes, Israel would also benefit from the earlier
      warning that a boost-phase system's sensors would provide.

      The minister also said that a boost-phase system is more likely to deter an
      attack because a successful intercept would cause the debris to fall "on top
      of the
      aggressor."

      -- Marc Selinger


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