Trump likely to present Pentagon findings about changing threat as justification for his planned ‘space force’

Donald Trump will unveil a plan on Thursday for a major expansion in US missile defence that will rely on a new generation of space-based sensors.

The administration’s long-delayed missile defence review, which the president will present at the Pentagon, will call for the expansion of the US network of sensors and interceptors designed to identify and shoot down incoming projectiles from “rogue states” such as Iran and North Korea.

Since the last review in 2010, a senior administration official said, “we have seen a really significant change to the threat environment”.

“What the missile defence review responds to is an environment in which our potential adversaries have been rapidly developing, and fielding, a much more expanded range of new offensive missiles,” the official said. “These missiles are capable of threatening the United States, threatening our allies, our partners, and our US forces abroad.”

Trump is likely to present the review as a justification for his order for the creation of a new “space force” with its own command structure.

“Space is a very important point of emphasis for the president, the vice-president and the missile defence review,” the administration official said. “It is something that we want to invest in … Space is the key to the next step of missile defence.”

The review would commission further study of space-based interceptors and lasers but would not direct the production or deployment “of anything specific”.

“That is an area that we are studying but not one we have made a concrete decision on whether or not to deploy yet,” said the official briefing reporters ahead of the review’s launch.

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