The Heritage Foundation

Backgrounder Update #73

April 14, 1988

April 14, 1988 | Backgrounder Update on

Growing Allied Role in SDI Research

(Archived document, may contain errors)

4/14/88 73

GROWING ALLIED ROLE IN SDI RESEARCH

(Updating Backgrounder No. 425, "Strategic Defense and America's Allies," April 16, 1985.) Allied support for the United States' Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), the program to develop a defense against nuclear missile attack, continues to be strong. Nowhere is allied support more explicit than in the commitment to SDI research. Already, the U.S. has awarded over $125 mil- lion in SDI research contracts to allied nations. Great Britain, Israel, Italy, Japan, and West Ger- many have signed formal agreements with the U.S. to participate in SDI. South Korea is ex- pected to begin SDI research soon. Belgium, Canada, France, and The Netherlands have al- lowed private companies to participate in independent SDI research contracts-with the U.S.

Japan: Last July, Japan signed a formal agreement allowing itscompanies to participate in SDI research, becoming the most recent ally to do so. Japan's decision followed nine months of intense negotiations in which Japan's major concern was that Japanese companies retain patent and research rights to new discoveries. Ile chief U.S. concern was protection of classified data. Because of last year's scandal involving Toshiba Machine Co., Ltd. (a subsidiary of Toshiba Cor- poration), which sold sophisticatedmillin equipment to the Soviets to manufacture quieter sub- marine propellers, Toshiba Corporation has been banned temporarily from receiving any SDI contracts.

Japan's major contributions to the SDI program are expected to include:

* *Electronic and electro-optical sensors to detect and track enemy intercontinental ballistic missiles.

* #Guidance controls and radar-absorbing or "stealth" materials to steer and cloak anti-mis- sile rockets.

* *Superconductors and microchips to be used in miniaturization of electronic components.

* +Technology to build larger mirrors and more precise optical instruments needed to reflect strategic defense lasers and particle beams fired from ground stations against ballistic missiles in flight.

In addition, the Japanese may participate in the research and development of an Asian-based defense against short-range missiles. Such a defense would provide terminal and limited area coverage for U.S. Far East allies.

West Germany: Interested in the commercial "spinoffs" from SDI discoveries, West Germany has pursued SDI research contracts eagerly. West Germany has been awarded twenty SDI con- tracts valued at $50.5 million. A major focus of West German efforts is research into anti-tactical ballistic missiles for European defense against Soviet short-range ballistic missiles. Other areas of West German research are chemical Lasers, Eree-electron lasers, and guidance systems for bal- listic missiles.

Great Britain: Though British officials occasionally complain that they are not receiving enough important SDI contracts, the 24 SDI contracts awarded to Britain total about $30 mil- lion. British contributions are expected to be significant in heat-seeking radiation detectors to identify and track exhaust plumes from Soviet ICBMs.

Italy: Italian firms currently are working on ten contracts valued at nearly $12 million, dealing with optical sensors and European defense against short-range missiles.

Israel: The focus of Israel's SDI research continues to be intercepting and destroying Soviet short-range ballistic missiles based in Syria. The result of Israel's research has been the Arrow missile, a ground or air-launched interceptor capable of destroying short-range enemy missiles. Israeli efforts on this front have been dramatically successful and it is expected that a full-scale prototype will be ready for production within three to five years.. Israel is working. on -ten SDI contracts worth over $11 million.

Contracts have been awarded to several companies in allied countries that have not signed for- mal agreements to participate in SDI.

*Dutch companies have secured two contracts worth about $12 million. Ile Dutch are con- centrating on electromagnetic launch technology for the electromagnetic railgun.

* *Rrench companies have been awarded five contracts totalling $10.4 million. These deal with European imissile defense systems and surveillance and tracking technologies.

# #The four contracts awarded to Canadian companies total about $1 million. Canadians are researching particle accelerators for particle beam weapons and the effects of the atmosphere on SDI sensing systems.

* *One contract, for $94,000, has been awarded to a Belgian company to study European defense systems.

Because SDI's protection will shield America's allies as well as the U.S., the allies have a legitimate stake in the success of the SDI program. Their participation will help to insure that success. By adding their technological expertise to that of the U.S., they have hastened the suc- cessful development of an effective and affordable strategic defense against ballistic missiles. It is necessary, therefore, to involve the allies in important SDI research programs.

Grant Loebs Policy Analyst

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