The Pentagon is reportedly building a detailed missile defense shield to guard against a cruise missile attack from Russia.
According to Defense One,
the Department of Defense is looking to purchase radar systems that can help pick up low-lying cruise missiles launched by Russia at U.S. cities. National Guard fighter jets would then shoot down the missiles before they impact their targets.
Another facet of the plan, according to Defense One, is to have aerostat balloons hovering over cities that would help detect incoming missiles, along with warships docked along the coast as another layer of defense.
Several top U.S. generals are in favor of using the balloons and ships, including Adm. William Gortney — who leads both U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) and North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).
The project is classified, but military officials have revealed parts of it in speeches and hearings in the last 12 months.
"We're devoting a good deal of attention to ensuring we're properly configured against such an attack in the homeland, and we need to continue to do so," Adm. Sandy Winnefeld, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said during a speech last month, according to Defense One.
Cruise missiles are able to fly at high speed and low altitude because they are powered the entire time they're in the air, and are launched from submarines, ships, or even mobile launchers attached to trailers, reports Defense One.
"A handful of senior military officials, including several current or past NORTHCOM commanders, have been among those quietly dinging the bell about cruise missile threats, and it's beginning to be heard," Thomas Karako of the Center for Strategic and International Studies told Defense One.
Residents in and around Aberdeen, Md., are familiar with a surveillance balloon
hovering 10,000 feet in the air. Called a Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor (JLENS), the aerostat is tethered to the ground and scans a circle with a diameter of 680 miles. It is part of the Pentagon's testing of the cruise missile defense system and is based at Aberdeen Proving Ground, a U.S. Army facility.
Last summer, according to Defense Tech,
the Pentagon conducted tests on a system that can detect incoming cruise missiles past the normal range of radar.
The military tested the same system, called the Naval Integrated Fire Control-Counter Air program, last week and successfully intercepted a test missile fired from beyond the reach of radar, reports the Arizona Daily Star.
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