LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Missile-defense system isn’t fully ready

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“Countering the growing ballistic-missile threat” (Web, June 27) makes a good case for the importance of an effective missile defense in this increasingly unstable world.

The successful test of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system (GMD) was indeed a very encouraging step forward. However, sadly, one successful test after three successive failures does not qualify the GMD for accolades. The success of a redesigned exoatmospheric kill vehicle indicates that the problems that previously prevented intercepts may have been corrected, but we need several more realistic tests to provide the confidence that we have indeed produced a GMD worthy of that name. The target in the recent test simulated an intermediate-range ballistic missile of known characteristics.

Fred Gedrich’s piece makes the point that additional advanced radar systems could make America safer. Yes, they might, provided more attention is given to the integration of these and the other space-based sensors on which the system depends to detect, track and discriminate the warheads from other missile components.

America certainly needs an effective missile defense to counter the growing threats, and confidence in the system will increase after a series of successful, realistic test firings. The key to enhanced confidence will be a demonstration that we have a system within which the sensors, the interceptors, the battle management and the communication and intelligence components are all fully integrated. The recent successful test was more a technical demonstration of possibilities than an operational demonstration.

STANLEY ORMAN

Rockville

MAJ. GEN. EUGENE FOX, USA (ret.)

Plano, Texas

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