• An unarmed Trident II D5 missile launches from the ballistic missile submarine USS Nebraska in the Pacific Ocean. US DOD
    An unarmed Trident II D5 missile launches from the ballistic missile submarine USS Nebraska in the Pacific Ocean. US DOD

The US has launched its latest Missile Defense Review in an event at the Pentagon, foreshadowing greater investment in missile defence capabilities and associated technologies.

The new policy makes explicit mention of the missile threat posed by Russia and China, as well as 'rogue states' such as Iran and North Korea, and outlines a more aggressive posture for US missile defence systems.

"New ballistic missile systems feature multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRV) and maneuverable reentry vehicles (MaRV), along with decoys and jamming devices," the review notes. "Russia and China are developing advanced cruise missiles and hypersonic missile capabilities that can travel at exceptional speeds with unpredictable flight paths that challenge existing defensive systems.

"While the US relies on deterrence to protect against large and technically sophisticated Russian and Chinese intercontinental ballistic missile threats to the US homeland, US active missile defence can and must outpace existing and potential rogue state offensive missile capabilities.

"The US is technically capable of doing so, and has adopted an active missile defense force-sizing measure for protection of the homeland."

The review does not make specific mention of what technologies the US is likely to field as it ramps up its missile defences, but does note that such acquisitions will take place outside the usual process.

"Successful science and technology initiatives may lead to operational prototypes that will be evaluated outside the standard acquisition process in order to develop successful technologies more quickly," the review notes.

Australia plays a significant role in US missile defence systems in the Pacific through the relay ground station at the Pine Gap facility near Alice Springs. The facility has proven crucial to detecting regional missile launches.

The review notes that Australia holds regular bilateral meetings with Washington, as well as trilateral meetings with Tokyo, to discuss missile defence cooperation.

The review's release has been positive for US defence stocks, including Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Raytheon. 

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