News


DATE=4/29/98
TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT
NUMBER=2-230460
TITLE=MISSILE DEFENSE - L ONLY
BYLINE=JIM RANDLE
DATELINE=WASHINGTON
CONTENT=
VOICED AT: 

INTRO:  A HIGH STAKES FIGHT IS UNDER WAY IN CONGRESS AND THE 
PENTAGON OVER THE BEST WAY TO PROTECT AMERICAN TROOPS FROM THE 
GROWING THREAT FROM BALLISTIC MISSILES.  SEVERAL COMPETING 
ANTI-MISSILE SYSTEMS ARE BEING DEVELOPED.  ONE FACES A CRUCIAL 
TEST SOON.  V-O-A PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT JIM RANDLE REPORTS. 

TEXT:  IT'S CALLED THE THEATER HIGH ALTITUDE AREA DEFENSE OR 
"THAAD" AND IT IS SUPPOSED TO DESTROY INCOMING BALLISTIC MISSILE 
WARHEADS ABOVE THE ATMOSPHERE OVER A WIDE AREA.

SO FAR, IN SPITE OF YEARS OF WORK, THE 17-BILLION DOLLAR SYSTEM 
HAS FAILED IN ALL FOUR ATTEMPTS TO HIT TARGETS.  ANOTHER TEST IS 
PLANNED FOR THE MIDDLE OF NEXT MONTH.   IF THE TEST IS 
SUCCESSFUL, PENTAGON OFFICIALS WILL BUY ANOTHER 40 THAAD MISSILES
AND USE THEM TO FURTHER REFINE THE COMPLEX SYSTEM OF MISSILES, 
ADVANCED RADARS, AND COMPUTERS. 

CONGRESSIONAL SUPPORTERS, INCLUDING REPUBLICAN CURT WELDON, SAY  
SUCH TEST FAILURES ARE TO BE EXPECTED IN DEVELOPING A NEW AND 
VERY ADVANCED SYSTEM.  HE SAYS MORE ATTENTION TO THE DETAILS OF 
MANUFACTURING WILL CLEAR UP THE PROBLEMS. 

                       /// WELDON ACT ///

THE SCIENTISTS AND THE RESEARCH ENGINEERS AND THE PHYSICISTS I 
TALK TO SAY  THERE IS  NO  TECHNOLOGY PROBLEM WITH THE THAAD 
SYSTEM, IT IS A QUALITY CONTROL ISSUE AND IT HAS BEEN LARGELY 
BEEN A CONTRACTOR ISSUE.

                         /// END ACT ///

THE ARMY'S THAAD PROGRAM MANAGER SAYS PROBLEMS USUALLY ARISE IN 
GETTING THE SENSORS, COMMUNICATIONS EQUIPMENT, COMPUTERS AND 
MISSILES TO WORK TOGETHER AS A TEAM.  HE SAYS THAAD HAS PROBABLY 
GOTTEN PAST THAT DIFFICULTY. 

BUT CRITICS OF THE PENTAGON, LIKE JOHN ISAACS OF THE COUNCIL FOR 
A LIVABLE WORLD, SAY IT MAKES NO SENSE TO SPEND HUGE SUMS OF 
MONEY TO DEPLOY "THAAD" OR ANY OTHER WEAPON UNTIL IT PROVES IT 
CAN WORK RELIABLY.

                       /// ISAACS ACT ///

THERE IS A GOOD CASE TO BE MADE THAT AT SOME POINT, U-S FORCES 
ABROAD AND OUR ALLIES COULD BE SUCCESSFULLY DEFENDED BY SOME SORT
OF MISSILE DEFENSE SYSTEM.  AT THIS POINT HOWEVER, THIS SYSTEM 
DOES NOT EXIST.

                        /// END ACT /// 

THE UNITED STATES AND ITS ALLIES HAVE A NUMBER OF PROGRAMS 
UNDERWAY TO DEVELOP BALLISTIC MISSILE DEFENSES.   THE PENTAGON IS
SCHEDULED TO AWARD A CONTRACT THURSDAY FOR A NATIONAL SYSTEM 
DESIGNED TO PROTECT THE WHOLE UNITED STATES.  THE CONTRACT IS ONE
OF THE BIGGEST IN PENTAGON HISTORY, BUT STILL COVERS ONLY A 
PORTION OF THE WORK AND EXPENSE OF THE NATIONAL SYSTEM.  

ANOTHER PROGRAM, SIMILAR TO "THAAD" IS BEING DEVELOPED TO PROTECT
THE NAVY'S SHIPS.  THAAD AND THE NAVY SYSTEM ARE SUPPOSED TO 
PROTECT "THEATERS" OR AREAS WHERE U-S TROOPS ARE OPERATING BY 
INTERCEPTING WARHEADS WELL ABOVE THE ATMOSPHERE.  STILL OTHER 
SYSTEMS ARE UNDER DEVELOPMENT WITH ISRAELI AND EUROPEAN PARTNERS.
  
THE LAST LINE OF DEFENSE IS THE PATRIOT ANTI-AIRCRAFT MISSILE 
THAT SAW SERVICE AGAINST IRAQI SCUDS IN THE GULF WAR.  A PROGRAM 
OF IMPROVEMENTS IS SUPPOSED TO MAKE THIS SYSTEM MORE RELIABLE AND
EFFECTIVE.  (SIGNED). 


NEB/JR/JO

29-Apr-98 4:48 PM EDT (2048 UTC)
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Source: Voice of America
.