January 17, 2019 / 7:01 PM / a month ago

Factbox: U.S. eyes lasers, F-35s, 'Star Wars' tech for missile defense

(Reuters) - The U.S. Missile Defense Review, unveiled on Thursday at the Pentagon, underscored the ways the American military is studying to detect and defeat ballistic missile attacks.

Here is a look at some aspects of U.S. plans outlined in the report’s summary.

- Examining improvement of the current primary anti-ballistic missile system, known as the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system.

- Studying the possibility of intercepting incoming intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) using cheaper, shorter-range missiles like the SM-3 Block IIA interceptor. It will be tested against an ICBM in 2020. The SM-3 IIA is in joint development between Raytheon Co (RTN.N) and Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (7011.T).

- Researching the possibility of temporarily or permanently converting the Lockheed Martin Corp-made (LMT.N) Aegis Ashore Missile Defense Test Center in Kauai, Hawaii from a test facility to an operational facility to strengthen the defense of the Pacific island state against a potential North Korean missile attack.

- Researching the development of using a laser mounted on an unmanned airborne drone to track and destroy missiles shortly after takeoff, during what is known as the boost-phase.

- Reviewing the possibility of space-based sensors and missile interceptors akin to those envisioned in the 1980s “Star Wars” program of former President Ronald Reagan.

- Looking at possible repurposing of existing technologies such as the Lockheed Martin-made F-35 fighter jet as a missile-defense sensor, as well as a vehicle to shoot down cruise missiles or missiles in their boost phase.

- Relocating other missile defense systems to combat rising threats. The report said that relocating missile defense systems such as Patriot and Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), as well as the U.S. Navy’s Aegis ballistic missile defense-capable ships armed with the SM-3 Block IIA interceptors, was a possibility.

Compiled by Mike Stone in Washington; Editing by Will Dunham

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