How to Keep US Missile Defense on the Right Track

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Use the coming funding boost to smooth the development of a new kill vehicle and increase GMD testing in general.

Recent budget moves will give the U.S. missile defense effort a major boost in funding over the coming year, likely allowing the purchase of additional Ground-Based Interceptor missiles on top of the 44 already deployed for use by the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system against ICBMs headed toward the U.S. homeland. The funding boost should also be used to smooth the development of a new interceptor warhead and increase testing of the GMD system in general.

A GBI’s warhead — more precisely called a kill vehicle — is an intricate piece of equipment designed to hunt down and physically collide with an enemy missile in the vacuum of space. The ones currently deployed are called Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicles, or EKVs. They are produced by hand, one-by-one, in a process that involves more than 130,000 steps…

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Ian Williams, "How to Keep US Missile Defense on the Right Track," Missile Threat, Center for Strategic and International Studies, February 13, 2018, last modified April 27, 2021,