Report Rubbishes Military's Plan For Intercepting Missiles

Hitting them soon after launch just isn't practical


For years, the Pentagon has tried to find a means to shoot down ballistic missiles that could one day be launched from North Korea and Iran. That's meant developing an expensive slew of interceptors to shoot down missiles mid-course — and, more ambitiously, during the "boost phase," right after launch when the missile's rocket engine is still firing. But a new report funded by the U.S. military's missile-defense bureau says the military's efforts to develop boost-phase interceptors are doomed to fail.

According to the nonpartisan National Research Council, the U.S. "should not invest any more money or resources in systems for boost-phase missile defense" (.pdf). Better, the council argues, to put money into the far more practical effort to destroy missiles during their ascent into the atmosphere. Except the council's report — released on Tuesday and funded by the military's Missile Defense Agency — also endorses a harebrained scheme to fortify the East Coast of the United States with interceptor batteries.