Capito, Sullivan lead efforts to step up homeland missile defense

In response to threats posed by North Korea, U.S. Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Dan Sullivan (R-AK) introduced legislation last week to enhance and expand U.S. homeland missile defense.

The Advancing America’s Missile Defense Act, which was introduced with bipartisan support, would foster a more diverse and integrated ballistic missile defense system. The measure would also take additional steps to improve the reliability, capacity and capability of the missile defense system.

Top military leaders have warned, Sullivan said, that it’s a matter of “when, not if,” North Korea will develop the capacity to target the continental United States with intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM).

Lawmakers said it is critical to national security for the United States’ to develop the most advanced missile defense systems in order to stay one step ahead of emerging threats.

“Keeping Americans safe is absolutely essential, and the Advancing American Missile Defense Act will help us do exactly that,” Capito said. “When it comes to North Korea, the time for smart, responsible action is now, and this legislation takes necessary steps to develop and advance our missile defense infrastructure and technology. This bill will help us properly prepare and equip professionals with the tools they need to counter the very real threat North Korea poses.”

Under the bill, Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense, Aegis Ashore, and Patriot Air and Missile Defense Systems would be added to homeland missile defense. Also included would be 28 additional ground-based interceptors (GBIs), a space-based sensor layer, and interceptor sites on the East Coast and in the Midwest.

“Our nation’s missile defense is a critical insurance policy that protects Americans and our allies from a nuclear catastrophe,” Sullivan said.

The Advancing America’s Missile Defense Act would also approve additional missile defense testing and it would require the Department of Defense to report on optimal locations for up to 100 GBIs to be added across the country.