Missile Defenses and Western European Security: NATO Strategy, Arms Control, and Deterrence

By Robert M. Soofer | Go to book overview
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6
Antitactical Missile Defense, Western Europe, and the INF Treaty

Even before President Reagan announced his Strategic Defense Initiative, there was interest in NATO and the United States for theater defenses against ballistic missiles. In fact, the first U.S. program dedicated to defense against tactical ballistic missiles, the Plato Project, goes back to 1951.1 More recently, James P. Wade, Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Atomic Energy, noted that the question of active defense for theater nuclear forces was being looked at quite carefully as early as 1980. Wade stated that while "the technology for building an ATM [antitactical missile] is attainable . . . [its] cost would be subtantial."2 In any case, funding for ATM studies has been included in the defense budget since 1982.

In mid- 1982, NATO's Counterair 90 Study recommended that in addition to modernizing existing air defenses and the development of new offensive counterair means, NATO should examine the feasibility of active defense options against tactical ballistic missiles (defense counterair). In the fall of 1983, and partially inspired by the March 23, 1983, speech, NATO sponsored a follow-on study to counterair by AGARD (Advisory Group for Aerospace Research and Development). The study was tasked to investigate the technological solutions for a defense against Soviet short-range ballistic missiles (SRBM) up to the year 2000. The study concluded that "exotic" technologies should be ruled out for their immature state of development and that any antitactical ballistic missile (ATBM) defense would have to rely primarily on surface-to-air missiles for the next two decades.3

Theater missile defense studies were given a boost by President Reagan's March 23, 1983, SDI speech, which eventually led to the 1984 Hoffman Study in which ATM was recommended as an intermediate option that would be available for deployment relatively early. The Hoffman Study stressed that

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