Russia’s conventional military power has diminished since the Cold War. This has caused them to become increasingly reliant on its strategic preventive strategies to meet security measures. Critics say this is why they revoked their agreement of “no first use” and is now willing to use nuclear tactics in order to deescalate conventional conflicts. A vast majority of Russian nukes are deployed on land based ballistic missiles making missile defense such an excruciating prospect for Russia.
Before the conflict with Ukraine erupted, missile defense was a subject of much disagreement between the two former Cold War adversaries. Russia was enraged about America’s plan to deploy a missile defense in Europe to counter Iran’s capabilities which is a “Phased Adaptive Approach” under the Obama Administration. What this means is that the US will be relying more on sea-based Aegis BMD ships and Aegis-Ashore sites that are located in Romania and Poland in order to counter up to 50 short and intermediate range ballistic missiles.
These tactics are all part of a multi-layer ballistic missile defense approach that includes NATO’s own missile defenses as well as a system that protects the US homeland. That system is known as the Ground-Based-Mid-Course-System – or GMD – and uses ground based kill vehicles to block strategic ballistic missiles in the mid-course phase. The cored of the GMD system is the thirty interceptors the United States currently deploys in California and Alaska. However, 14 new interceptors are being introduced in 2017 using an updated kill vehicle known as the Capability Enhancement – CE for short – II and it is worth mentioning the government’s desire to introduce more interceptors on the eastern coast as well.
The GMD system consists of ground based interceptors which use a solid multistage fuel booster with an Exo-Atmospheric Kill Vehicle – EKV – payload. This booster carries the EKV to the predicted location of the target in space when launched. After being released, the EKV uses data from the Ground Support and Fire Control System. The guidance data that is transmitted along with the on board sensors allow for destruction of the target warhead.