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Weighing a Dedicated Ballistic Missile Defense Class, Con’t.

By Taylor Marvin

Last October I considered the Romney campaign’s proposal for a new naval ship class dedicated to ballistic missile defense. At the time, Romney advisor John Lehman had suggested that a new class based on the existing LDP 17 hull dedicated entirely to the ballistic missile defense (BMD) role would be a valuable addition to the US Navy, which is increasingly taked with the role. The larger LDP hull would allow a new class of ship the power to mount new radar and physical room to carry significantly more anti-ballistic missiles, an argued weakness of existing BMD ships:

“This is an interesting proposal. Offshore ballistic missile defense is a growing mission for the Navy, and anti-ship ballistic missiles (ASBM) like China’s formidable DF-21D system are a major threat to surface ships. A dedicated anti-ballistic missile (ABM) ship capable of targeting and destroying ballistic missiles would certainly increase the survivability of carrier strike groups, as well as serve in the region BMD role.”

Writing at Defense News, Christopher P. Cavas recently reported on an Huntington Ingalls Industries concept for the a dedicated BMD ship, featuring a significantly expanded number of vertical launch systems.

Ultimately I concluded that proposals for a dedicated BMD ship are infeasible on cost and specialization grounds — “though important, the actual need for BMD is rare. Building a entire ship class dedicated to a rarely needed mission is problematic.” However, despite my concerns (an the extremely uncertain future of any new class proposals in the current budgetary environment) the proposal is interesting, and merits further discussion.

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