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    Repiglican Roast

    A spirited discussion of public policy and current issues

    Location: The mouth of being

    I'm furious about my squandered nation.

    Wednesday, June 06, 2007

    BACKGROUND: Missile defense for Europe faces technical challenges

    The diplomatic tension that has arisen since Poland and the Czech Republic began discussions with Washington has overshadowed more practical questions about the feasibility and cost of the system, designed to shoot down long-range missiles from North Korea or Iran in the middle of their flight in space.

    US President George W Bush's ambitious missile defence agenda breezed through Congress with an annual pricetag of about 9 billion dollars during his six years in office. The programme now faces tougher scrutiny from Democrats, who took control of Congress in January and have raised questions about whether the system was being rushed without effective oversight and at too high a cost.

    The House of Representatives voted May 17 to slash about half of the Pentagon's funding request for stationing long-range missile defences in Europe, citing the need to spend money on more promising missile defence technologies geared toward fending off short- and medium-range threats.

    "We do so by redirecting funding from investments in less mature, high-risk missile defence efforts" like the one proposed for Eastern Europe, said Representative Ellen Tauscher, chairwoman of the House Subcommittee on Strategic Forces.

    The Pentagon's Missile Defence Agency hopes to have the 10 long- range interceptors in Poland by 2013 at a cost of 4 billion dollars. The design for the interceptors will be based on the three-boost interceptors already in Alaska and California. The Missile Defence Agency wants to remove one of the motors to build two-boost stage rockets needed to meet the geographic and altitude requirements for countering an Iranian threat.

    The Missile Defence Agency (MDA), along with contractor Boeing, is studying the design for the two-boost phase conversion, which should be completed in June, but no timeframe has been set to begin testing the adapted missiles, agency spokesman Richard Lehner said.

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