A missile defense advocate said that the U.S. should invest more in its missile defence system to be prepared for the increasing threat of weapons capability as China and other countries acquire hypersonic weapon capabilities.
Riki Ellison (ex-NFL linebacker, founder of Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance) stated that “we’re below one-and-a half percent of our defense budget for defensive capabilities.” It’s ridiculous. Because that’s who it is, the Department of Defense is the most vocal. We are far off balance due to a lack of defensive capabilities.
Many people would not consider missile defense the next step after retirement from professional sports. But Ellison, a three-time Super Bowl champion, was born in New Zealand and had previously worked at Lockheed Martin Sunnyvale to develop the atmospheric reentry system.
Ellison worked on the second-ever hit to-kill intercontinental missile (ICBM), interceptor system, while he was not training for the NFL.
Ellison stated that he was in love with the idea that mankind could destroy its worst weapon. He took a two year sabbatical after his retirement from the NFL, and returned to Washington, D.C. in the early 1990s, to continue working on ground-based missile defense system.
Ellison began work again in a time of increased missile defense systems focus and after a statement made by Bill Clinton, then-President, that no country other than the five nuclear superpowers – the U.S., Russia and Britain – would develop ballistic missile capabilities before 2010, downplaying any threat such weapons could pose.
This statement was made in 1995 National Intelligence Estimate. Congress formed the Rumsfeld Commission 1998. The opposition conclusion of the commission was that ballistic capabilities were being developed by several countries and that the U.S. intelligence system wasn’t capable of tracking these developments.
However, the Sept. 11th 2001 attack and the first North Korean missile strike over Japan caused a “critical shift in missile defense.”
Ellison spoke out about a presidential directive to “deploy ground-based interceptors” in Alaska. This created a total defense of 50 states, including the U.S. Capitol Region, against cruise missiles. It took three years for the technology to be deployed.
Ellison soon realized that the United States was losing the “educational war” and decided to form his own organization to address this issue.
Ellison stated, “My entire organization was built to support missile defense development around the globe because I believe it makes the world more secure.” It does, there’s no doubt about it.
In recent years, his organization has become more important. China completed last year the hypersonic weapon test – which is one of the most critical weaknesses in the U.S. defense system. lags behind in hypersonic technology – the world waited with bated breath Tuesday as errant missiles struck Poland after a Russian attack on Ukrainian infrastructure. Poland invoked NATO Article 4.
Ellison stated, referring specifically to other countries with similar missile capabilities.
He said, “Your arms control agreement doesn’t work against the near peer, and the near peer is using missiles for their power because there are no missile defense capabilities out here to stop them, and they are setting a pace for the rest the world that is paying attention to this,” he continued.
The U.S. Missile Defense Agency is the Department of Defense section responsible for developing missile defense systems. It has a budget of just shy of $10 Billion for fiscal year 2023. This number sounds impressive, but it amounts to approximately 1.3% of the $761 billion Defense Department budget.
Ellison argued that the military must determine the “roles & responsibility” for missile defense technology. This is despite the fact that capabilities continue to increase at astonishing rates – even dragging conflict to the upper levels of atmosphere, where ICBMs can spend a substantial portion of their flight time.
Ellison stated that the greater the change, space will see more fights. He spoke of two projects from the 1980s called Brilliant Bubbles, and Brilliant Eyes. Also, a more modern ballistic missile tracking system was mentioned that took place in space.
He said, “These missiles move so fast that an air-based or land-based radar in curvature space flight fire will be required before they can target them.” The only way to defeat the hypersonic weapon is from space. Without knowing where it is, you cannot reach a terminal position.
“So, the first is that you need sensors in space, and thousands or hundreds of them, and possibly all three layers, so that every launch and every piece space can be viewed and understood.”
Ellison revived the idea of using a system similar to “Star Wars,” an 1980s missile defense system. However, he added the twist that such a system would use lasers because there would be less atmospheric drag. This would make it more efficient.
Ellison is concerned that lack of funding could make it more difficult to achieve these goals, leaving the U.S. vulnerable to other countries catching up. This especially after Pentagon officials repeatedly raised concerns about the “pacing problem” China presents.
He stated that the cheapest weapon available right now would cost $100 million for one Alaskan ground-based interceptor. “How…are you going to compete against that?”
Ellison stated that every day, people die from ballistic missiles, hypersonic and cruise missiles.