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