The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee increased budget earmarked for expanding missile defense to counter possible attacks with intercontinental ballistic missiles on Tuesday. Watchers say the measure has been taken due to Washington’s concern over escalating threat from North Korean missiles.
According to Radio Free Asia on Thursday, the Senate Appropriations Committee set aside 696 billion U.S. dollars as national defense budget in its budgetary appropriation bill for the 2021 fiscal year. Of the budget, 10.23 billion dollars were earmarked for the Missile Defense Agency, which represents a 1.1-billion-dollar increase from MDA’s original request to Congress.
Specifically, the budget includes 319.6 million dollars for terminal high-altitude missile defense systems, and 450 million dollars for GMA or ground-based missile interceptor system. As for GMA designed to forecast the trajectory of the enemy’s ICBMs in advance and preemptively intercept them, Washington will spend 250 million dollars to improve defense stability and 200 million dollars to reduce risks, respectively. Budget for development of next-generation interceptor aircraft designed to intercept ICBMs has also been earmarked.
Experts say that the U.S. Congress’ decision to increase missile defense budget among other defense budget items reflects Washington’s concern over Pyongyang. Bruce Bennett, a senior researcher at the Rand Institute, told RFA that Senate is believed to have set aside additional budget due to recognition of increased missile threat after the North’s military parade on October 10.
Meanwhile, at at the military parade marking its 75th founding anniversary of the Workers’ Party, North Korea unveiled 72 units of nine different types of missiles, including a new ICBM that is more than 2 meters longer than the Hwasong-15 missile.