The Defense: ABM/SDI/BMD/NMD

  • David Hafemeister


The United States spent over $100 billion on anti-ballistic missile research, development and deployment since President Reagan’s 1983 speech. Annual BMD budgets are about $10 billion/year in 2012. Attempts to develop defenses against strategic missiles began almost at the time of their creation. Defenses have gone from antiballistic missile (ABM), to Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), to ballistic missile defense (BMD), to national missile defense (NMD), to global, regional defenses. The Soviets started to deploy the first significant ABM system, the Galosh, around Moscow in 1962, which continues today in a modified version. The original Galosh used 2–3 Mton nuclear warheads with a kill radius of 300 km at four sites, located 135 miles north-west of Moscow. The Soviets started building the radar system in 1964 and began limited service in 1967. These facts were known to President Johnson when he met in Glasboro, NJ in 1967 with Soviet Premier Kosygin. In 1968, the U.S. considered an attack on Galosh with at least 100 Minuteman missiles and 6 Polaris SLBMs, to attack 17 facilities. Sixteen 1–Mt warheads were aimed at each of the four interceptor sites. The Galosh defense was intended to protect Moscow, but it made Moscow much more vulnerable because of the large US response. This has always been true, if the defense looks somewhat promising, then the offense will build more of an offense, which is usually the cheaper thing to do.


Nuclear Weapon Hydrogen Fluoride American Physical Society Closing Velocity Strategic Defense Initiative 
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhysicsCalifornia Polytechnic State UniversitySan Luis ObispoUSA

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