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View more articles by Hamish Macdonald
Hamish Macdonald is an NK News contributor and has previously worked at The Korea Herald and for the Australia Centre for Independent Journalism in Sydney.
U.S. President Donald Trump has requested an additional USD$4 billion in emergency funds for the nation’s missile defense systems to directly counter the threat of North Korean ballistic missiles, according to a White House letter to Congress published on Monday.
Several requested amendments to the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) budget totaling USD$5.9 billion were outlined in a letter to the Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan, with the funds for missile defense representing well over half of the new funds.
“The request includes an additional $4.0 billion to support urgent missile defeat and defense enhancements to counter the threat from North Korea,” the President’s letter reads. “This request supports additional efforts to detect, defeat, and defend against any North Korean use of ballistic missiles against the United States, its deployed forces, allies, or partners.”
An accompanying letter from the White House Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney was also included in the White House documents, outlining the precise nature of the spending.
The majority of the funds – USD$2.1 billion – would be used for the construction of an additional Ground-Based Interceptor (GBI) field at Fort Greely in Alaska, the purchase of 20 new GBIs, 16 “Standard Missile-3 Block IIA interceptors”, 50 new Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptors, and other affiliated equipment.
A further USD$839 million would be for “combined missile detection, disruption/defeat, and defense, including the procurement of 147 Missile Segment Enhancement missiles and a variety of multi-role capabilities,” according to the letter.
Another USD$214 million and USD$116 million would be for missile detection, intelligence, and reconnaissance capability upgrades and missile disruption and defeat capabilities, respectively. The remaining USD$743 million was designated for “other associated missile defeat and defense activities.”
The White House had already requested USD$9.9 billion in the budget for missile defense, including USD$7.9 billion for the Missile Defense Agency (MDA).
North Korea has launched an estimated 21 missiles of varying ranges since Trump took office in January. Critically, this included the launch of two intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) at lofted trajectories in July.
Despite international condemnation and sanctions, North Korea has vowed to continue its development of its nuclear and ballistic missile programs and has continued to issue threatening rhetoric towards the U.S.
President Trump has said that the U.S. would be able to shoot down a North Korean ICBM targeted at the mainland “97% of the time” – claims that analysts have called into question.
In September, the CEO of Boeing’s Defense, Space and Security division Leanne Caret said his company’s Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system would be able to defend the U.S. mainland from ICBM attacks – despite the system’s patchy test record.
Edited by Oliver Hotham