US Pentagon urges missile defence sensors in space

A Russian missile is fired during military exercisesImage copyright

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Russia denies building missiles that violate the accord

The US must research new technologies, such as a layer of sensors in space, to find and destroy incoming missiles, a Pentagon report is expected to say.

The Missile Defence Review, due for release on Thursday, says the US should revamp its missile defence programme to combat foreign threats.

It includes plans to study a possible orbital sensor system to intercept and stop missiles in their tracks.

President Donald Trump is set to unveil the review at the Pentagon on Thursday.

The president previously ordered the military to create a sixth branch of the military to ensure “American dominance in space”.

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Speaking ahead of the review’s publication, an unnamed official reportedly said space was “the key” to missile defence.

“A space-based layer of sensors is something we are looking at to help get early warning and tracking and discrimination of missiles when they are launched,” the official told reporters.

However, the official stressed the military was only examining whether such a system could work, and that no decisions had been made.

It comes after previously announced plans for more ground-based defence systems in Alaska.

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President Trump will announce the review at a speech at the Pentagon

The review comes months after an expert commission published a sober report on President Trump’s defence strategy which argued the US “margin of superiority” is now “profoundly diminished”.

It said there are “urgent challenges that must be addressed if the United States is to avoid lasting damage to its national security.”

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While the US has recently focused its efforts on containing regional threats like North Korea and Russia, both China and Russia have been developing new weapons which some see as a threat to US military superiority.

Russia has reportedly tested a hypersonic missile, while in 2018 the head of the Defence Intelligence Agency told Congress China was trying to counter missile defences by developing “increasingly sophisticated ballistic missile warheads and hypersonic glide vehicles”.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly oversaw the test of a hypersonic missile in December

The weapons proposals in the new defence review echo US plans developed in 1980s.

Known as “Star Wars”, the Strategic Defence Initiative was a planned missile shield to protect the US from intercontinental ballistic missiles.

President Ronald Reagan announced the concept in 1983, but it was eventually dropped in 1993 after the end of the Cold War.

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