Engineers told market for missile defense hot
The commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet said last week that countries are doing more to build ballistic missile defense systems amid greater awareness of the threat from the long-range projectiles.
"Ballistic missile defense is a growing business as far as the numbers and capability out there," Adm. Gary Roughead told a conference of about 700 engineers on Kauai.
"The North Korean missile development program is something that not only we watch closely, but some of the regional nations out there are involved."
He added, in the remarks transcribed by the Pacific Fleet public affairs office, that "Japan in particular is very mindful and very aware of what threat that poses."
Tokyo's interest in missile defense systems grew after North Korea test-fired a missile over northern Japan in 1998.
Roughead spoke before an annual conference of the Directed Energy Professional Society, made up mostly of engineers who develop the high-energy laser and high-powered microwave technology used to make ballistic missile defense systems.
Roughead said missile defense tests are expensive, but he urged the engineers not to be discouraged when their results are disappointing.
"Some of the best lessons I have ever taken away are not from when I've hit it out of the park, but when I screwed something up," Roughead said. "That's when I think we learn a lot, perhaps we even learn more."
Society members gathered on Kauai, the site of a major missile defense testing facility, for the first time this year.
The group will meet in Albuquerque, N.M., next year.
At this year's gathering, members announced the results of their ongoing development programs and explained new discoveries to the group, said Sam Blankenship, the society's executive director.