Could SM-3 Interceptors be Deployed Rather than Additional GBIs? And is the SM-3 Block–IIB Making a Comeback? (Probably Not.) A tale of battling transcripts. (July 10, 2013)

At his July 9 daily press briefing, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little stated that the Department of Defense was considering deploying Navy SM-3 interceptors in addition to or instead of the 14 additional Ground Based-Midcourse (GMD) Ground-based Interceptors (GBIs) that are currently planned for deployment in Alaska by 2017.  Here what he said, from a transcript posted on the DoD’s website:

LITTLE:  There are no plans to change our expansion to 44 Ground Based Interceptors.  And as I understand it, we’re looking at deploying a different kind of system, the SM3 (inaudible) system as part of the additional Ground Based Interceptors. 

This is pretty big news, it seems to me.  But it gets even more interesting.

Here’s the same statement by Little, as transcribed by CQ Transcriptions:[1]

LITTLE:  There are no plans to change our expansion to 44 Ground Based Interceptors.  And as I understand it, we’re looking at deploying a different kind of system, the SM3 BII (ph) system as part of the additional Ground Based Interceptors. 

In this version, he not only says they are considering deploying SM-3s, but he specifically says they are considering deploying the Block IIB variant of the SM-3 interceptor!   

(For those of you not up on SM-3 versions, the SM-3 Block IIB was the very high speed version of the SM-3 that the DoD announced the cancellation of at its March 15, 2013 press conference announcing the deployment of the 14 additional GBIs.  This cancellation was significant because, at least up to that time, the Block IIB version has been the primary focus of Russian complaints about US missile defense plans.)

So is the SM-3 Block IIB making a comeback?  Or is the “inaudible” on the DoD website’s transcript simply a way of correcting a misspeaking?  The follow up queston suggests that the statement may simple be an error.

QUESTION:  I don’t want to correct you, but the issue is a new warhead on the — that’s got to be proven out.  The thing you just mentioned I think was canceled… 

      (CROSSTALK) 

LITTLE:  OK.  Well, we’re — we’re taking a look at another system, I think, and — for the GBIs. 

Nonetheless, this is the first offical statement (I think) indicating tht SM-3s, of whatever type, might be deployed as substitutes for GBIs.


[1] “George Little, Defense Department Press Secretary, Holds Defense Department Regular News Briefing, CQ Transcriptions, July 9, 2013.

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1 Comment

  1. Corky Boyd

     /  July 14, 2013

    Is there any way you could publish a comparison of the engagement zone of the SM3 BII to the GBI. Are they in the same ballpark?

    Reply

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