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Navy's Missile Defense Hits Land

Raytheon has been pushing the idea of modifying the very successful SM-3 missile so it can be based on land. They managed to get $50 million placed in the 2010 budget, establishing all-important program of record status for the idea.

The admiral who oversees the SM-3 program offered cautious support for the effort, though he was not exactly effusive. "It is a configuration that has a lot of merit," Rear Adm. Alan Hicks, Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense program director, said at a Monday afternoon event put on by the Marshall Institute, Modifying the missile is not likely to be a problem. "By golly, if we can put it on a ship, we can stick it on land," he said.

The most likely use of this system would be to counter Iran's burgeoning ballistic missile capabilities [pictured], said Hicks. It has even been touted as a replacement for Boeing's Ground-based Midcourse system planned for installation in Poland, though that idea seems to have faded a bit in the last few months. Still, industry sources say land-based SM-3s could also be used to take on Taepo Dongs and other threats.

Here's an interview I filmed about this idea with Mike Booen, Raytheon's vice president of advanced missile defense and directed energy, at the Paris Air Show.

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