In what looks to be a highly ambitious and even more highly cost prohibitive scheme, President Trump has announced his intention to greatly expand US missile defense systems, with a major focus on putting them in space.
During his announcement Thursday at the Pentagon, Trump set out his goals, saying that he wants “to ensure that we can detect and destroy any missile launched against the United States – anywhere, anytime, anyplace.”
The Pentagon has had space-based interceptors on its wish list for some time, but between that and drones with lasers on them, they were far short of the sort of total, planet-wide coverage that President Trump is talking about.
A space-centric missile defense system must inevitably draw comparisons to the Strategic Defense Initiative, commonly called Star Wars, of the 1980s, a controversial and hugely expensive program that also sought space-based interceptors.
The timing of President Trump’s announcement will likely raise eyebrows on a few fronts, as it comes just a day after the US announced its intentions to withdraw from the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia, and just a day before North Korean officials are to arrive to meet with the secretary of state.
Especially with respect to Russia, US buildups of missile defense systems have been met with major suspicion that the US is trying to eliminate Russia’s deterrent capability, a concern which often leads to Russian threats of a new arms race. With a treaty having just collapsed, that’s an even bigger concern this time.
This also likely is tied to President Trump’s long-standing fondness for militarizing space, and his attempts to create a Space Force. During his speech, Trump declared space to be a “new warfighting domain.”