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4 Reasons the Navy Will Always Be Involved in Missile Defense

They'll always be on defense patrols. By Harold C. Hutchison
By We Are The Mighty
missile defense

The Navy has recently wanted to end ballistic missile defense (BMD) patrols. This mission, usually carried out by Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers equipped with RIM-161 Standard SM-3 surface-to-air missiles, has been to protect American allies from ballistic missiles from rogue states like Iran and North Korea, or from hostile peers or near-peers like Russia and China.

In June 2018 though, the Navy wanted to get away from this mission. The reason? They want to shift this to shore installations to free up the destroyers for other missions. Well, the ballistic missile defense mission is not going to go away any time soon. Here’s why:

 

4. It will cost money to remove the capability

A RIM-161 Standard SM-3 missile is launched from the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Hopper (DDG 70).

(U.S. Navy photo)

Even if there are shore installations handling the ballistic-missile defense mission, these Burke-class destroyers are not going to lose their capability to carry out the ballistic missile defense role. Maybe they won’t carry as many RIM-161s as they used to, but the capability will be preserved. The Navy has better things to do than to spend money to remove a capability from a ship.

3. There is China’s anti-ship ballistic missile program to beat

The Kongo-class guided-missile destroyer Kirishima launches a RIM-161 Standard SM-3 missile during a joint exercise with the United States.

(U.S. Navy photo)

China’s DF-21 anti-ship ballistic missile could be more than a cause of virtual attrition if China were able to figure out how to locate American carriers. In that case, the best option to stop a DF-21 could very well be the SM-3s on the escorts of a carrier. After all, the land bases will be too far away to cover the carrier.

 

2. Land bases are vulnerable

Sea-based ballistic-missile defense assets have advantages of mobility and security over land-based ballistic-missile defense assets. Just try and find a ship like USS Decatur (DDG 73).

(U.S. Navy photo)

Land bases are easy to support. You also have plenty of space, compared to a ship. Getting sufficient power and resources is also easy. The accommodations of the crew operating it are far more comfortable. But they don’t move, and everyone and their kid sister knows where they are or can find them on Google Earth. This makes them vulnerable to attacks from planes, missiles, special operations units… you get the idea.

1. You never know where you will fight

Since war is unpredictable, one will always need the means to get ballistic-missile defense assets to a location — and the best method is a ship like USS Lake Erie (CG 70), pictured here.

(U.S. Navy photo)

We think we know where the next war will start. But can we ever be sure? In his memoirs, Norman Schwarzkopf admitted he never thought he’d be fighting in Vietnam, Grenada, or Kuwait. If American troops needed to fight somewhere unexpected (say, a war breaks out in Mozambique), the initial BMD will have to come from ships, not land based units.

The fact is, the Navy may want to dump BMD patrols, but they will be sailing around to carry out this mission for a long time.

This article originally appeared on We Are The Mighty

 

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2018-06-21T12:58:53+00:00

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