Make Space Assets More Resilient and Survivable

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In May, the U.S. Ground-based Midcourse Defense system – the GMD – successfully intercepted a mock ICBM in a critical test of the U.S. missile defense umbrella. Given the growing threat of the development of a North Korean ICBM capable of reaching the United States, this is excellent news. However, the failed June 22 test of the sea-based SM-3 interceptor underlines the challenges that remain to perfecting the U.S. missile defense system. This system is largely ground- and sea-based, with advanced radar installations spread across the globe. However, improved space-based sensor arrays – and possibly even interceptors –  could vastly increase the effectiveness of this system. The Cipher Brief’s Fritz Lodge spoke with former Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James about what role space plays in the U.S. missile defense system, and how that role could be enhanced.

The Cipher Brief: What role do space-based systems currently play in the U.S. missile defense system and how has that role changed over the past decade?

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