Missile defense shield that doesn’t work. So far the only tangible result is that Vladimir Putin has used it as an excuse to introduce a new class of MIRVed (multiple warhead) ICBMs and threaten the Europeans. This is payback for the US withdrawal from the ABM Treaty announced December 12, 2001 and entered into effect June 13, 2002. On June 14, Russia announced that it was pulling out of START II (negotiated in the 1990s) which covered the de-MIRVing of ICBMs and which Russia had never gotten around to ratifying anyway. Putin knows that Russia is not threatened by such an ineffective system and that Russia has plenty of conventional ICBMs to overwhelm it even if it did work. As for targeting Europe, although it sounds scary, this represents little change from current policy. De-targeted Russian (and US) missiles can be re-targeted in a matter of seconds to minutes. On July 14, 2007, Putin suspended Russia’s participation in the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty. The Bush missile shield is providing an excellent excuse for Russia to detach itself from the security framework put in place at the end of the Cold War.
The missile shield program has also suffered from problems with its target missiles. A September 26, 2008 GAO report noted that target missiles (often old rockets) experienced a failure rate of 7% (3 of 42) in tests from 2002-2005 and 16% (6 of 38) in 2006-2007. During this period, the costs of each target missile varied between $4.5 to $8.5 million. In December 2003, the DOD awarded a contract to Lockheed Martin to build new target rockets. These are expected to cost between $32 and $65 million a piece during the period 2008-2010. They are over cost and behind schedule. In fact, none are now expected for delivery before 2009.