New US Defense Bill Could Spur New Space-based Arms Race
Ron Perillo / 3 years ago
Incumbent US President Barack Obama has signed the National Defense Authorization act, a year-end policy defense bill that covers all aspects of the United States Military and the notable omission of one word has many concerned: “limited”. The provisions hint that the United States will seek defense technology that will tackle both small-scale and large-scale Nuclear attacks in light of the current state of terrorist threats. This includes seeking space-based Nuclear defense measures. Although a defensive move in part of the US, it could be seen as an aggressive move by other nuclear states, unsettling decades-old stability. The bill was approved in both houses of congress with nary a public debate, although the White House has voice concern over it earlier. President Obama did not even come close to threatening to veto it but has voiced his concern regarding the bill’s cyber-security and administrative leave section in the four-page signing statement instead.
Defense experts and scientists however have stated that a space-based solution against a nuclear attack is not practical and dismissed it as fantasy. Retired president of missile systems for Locheed, L. David Montague says that “It defies the laws of physics and is not based on science of any kind. Even if we darken the sky with hundreds or thousands of satellites and interceptors, there’s no way to ensure against a dedicated attack. So it’s an opportunity to waste a prodigious amount of money…insanity, pure and simple”. Montague is co-chair of the National Academy of Sciences panel that studied missile defense technologies at the request of the US congress.
The proponent of the bill, Republic representative Trent Franks of Arizona however disagrees and based his idea of a space-based defense from President Ronald Reagan’s “Star Wars” Strategic Defense Initiative. In the original 1980’s plan which was not put into action, Satellite-based lasers are used to counter Nuclear missile launches. This original plan was to cost the US tax payers $30B but in 2017 dollars, the project can escalate up to hundreds of billions of dollars.