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'Missiles: the Right Choice'

May 27, 1988

The editorial misses several key points. First, the United States should not build a missile to fit an arms control goal. This is a political missile with no useful military purpose. The perceived goal not to represent a first-strike threat is nonsense since any ballistic missile represents a direct threat to the Soviets.

Second, the Midgetman missile is too expensive ($35 billion to $40 billion) to develop and deploy for the number of missiles proposed, 500.

Third, this missile may not be able to carry a large enough warhead for hard targets in the late 1990s.

Fourth, it carries only one warhead and may not carry any decoys because of weight restrictions.

Fifth, the cost of Midgetman is so high we may not even buy 300. The real need is more like 1,500.

When losses are considered from a direct strike, malfunctioning missiles and the Russian defense system, 300 or even 500 missiles would not be enough to serve as an effective deterrent.

The above reasons make it clear why the Department of Defense is correct in this case. By the late 1990s, all U.S. land-based missiles will have to be placed on rail cars or special trucks because silos will be too vulnerable.

Two approaches are suggested. First, place 100 MX missiles on rail cars and 350 Minuteman missiles on trucks. The Minuteman's weight is not excessive for a truck. Second, place a mix of MX and Trident missiles on trains and trucks. Either approach is more cost effective and a better deterrent than the Midgetman.

ROBERT COLLINS

Hermosa Beach

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