from Bill Still
Congress has cancelled funding for a high-tech advanced radar system that was nearing deployment which would have protected the nation’s capitol from a new high-speed Russian cruise missile system recently deployed in Syria.
The surprise cancellation was one of the little known parts of the omnibus spending bill. The advanced JLENS radar is slung under a large blimp. But last year, one of the blimps broke free of its tether, embarrassing the program managers.
However, the tether appears to have been a simple mechanical failure, unrelated to the robust complexities of the new radar system. After spending billions of dollars in developmental costs, the system was nearing completion. According to Chet Nagle, a former champion of the JLENS system in the Pentagon:
“It is now in a final operational test at Aberdeen Proving Ground that will prove its worth and … will protect most of the eastern seaboard from cruise missile attack.”
Nagle explained that the radar quickly identifies high-speed, incoming threats and automatically targets them for aircraft and missiles already stationed in the region.
The new Russian cruise missiles fly so fast that they can overwhelm existing defensive missile systems protecting the U.S. east coast. They can be fired at relatively short range from submarines.
According to Admiral Bill Gortney, chief of NORAD, in testimony before lawmakers earlier this month trying to rescue the program with a 27 million-dollar supplemental spending request:
“The Russians are employing these cruise missiles in Syria today, both from bombers, ships, and submarines.”
“There’s no operational or tactical requirement to do it. They’re messaging us that they have this capability and those missiles can have a nuclear-tipped or conventional warhead.”
However, the small supplemental request has now been turned down and the project killed unless and until the next President gets behind it.
Without JLENS, it is unlikely that the nation’s capitol could be defended from such a threat.
I’m Still reporting from Washington. Good day.