Congress may be turning the corner on missile defense. It is reported that the House Subcommittee on Strategic Forces added $361.6 million to the Obama Administration’s inadequate $9.9 billion request for the overall missile defense program in fiscal year 2011. This is a significant departure from last year, where Congress, with the notable exception of the valiant effort by House Republicans to oppose it, acquiesced in the Obama Administration’s $1.6 billion reduction in the broader program.
The increase in funding is to go to the following components of the broader missile defense program: 1) the Patriot PAC-3 interceptor; 2) the AN/TPY-2 missile defense radar; 4) the Standard Missile-3 interceptors; 5) the Airborne Laser; and 6) the U.S.-Israeli missile defense cooperation program. The increases, in large measure, were paid for by reductions in funding for a number of satellite programs.
While the increase in funding for missile defense in fiscal 2011 from the President’s request may mark in change in Congress’ views on the program, the overall program will remain inadequate. A robust commitment to defending the U.S. homeland against long-range missile attack is not to be found. The additional funding for the Airborne Laser is welcome, but it will not provide a stand-by operational capability for the system. Most importantly, the missile defense program, even with the increases approved by the House Strategic Force Subcommittee, does not include a program for placing missile defense interceptors in the location where they can be most effective. This is in space. All told, a truly robust missile defense program in fiscal 2011 would include roughly $1 billion more than what the House Subcommittee approved.