Politics

July 18, 2013

Maine still in running for missile site

Residents may welcome it but some lawmakers are skeptical of a system that has a dismal test record.

By Kevin Miller kmiller@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

The Missile Defense Agency conducted a flight test of a three-stage ground-based interceptor missile from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California this year.

Missile Defense Agency photo

"It's been five years since we have had a successful intercept test – five years – and all of the conversation from the administration and at this table today has been about how we should continue to spend more for silos in Alaska and for placement of ground missile defense on the East Coast," Durbin said. "I am trying to reconcile the appetite of Congress to keep spending more money with the actual results of testing."

Reports also suggest that Iran does not yet have the technological capacity to strike the U.S. with an intercontinental ballistic missile, although defense experts have said Iran could have the ability by 2015.

The U.S. now has two ground-based missile defense facilities: a 26-interceptor facility at Fort Greely in Alaska and a four-interceptor facility at California's Vandenberg Air Force Base. The Obama administration plans to increase the number of interceptors on the West Coast to 44.

Those systems supplement ship-based Aegis ballistic missile defense systems. Loring Air Force Base was once a critical part of the nation's defense network, serving as home base for long-range B-52 bombers and housing Nike-Hercules surface-to-air missiles. Since the base closed in 1994, the population of the surrounding area has dropped from nearly 10,000 to about 1,100.

In a letter to Collins in September, officials with the Loring Development Authority of Maine said they were "very interested in facilitating a new interceptor base," given the potential economic impact.

Washington Bureau Chief Kevin Miller can be contacted at 317-6256 or at:

kmiller@mainetoday.com

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