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Defending America: Save this missile

| Tuesday, July 1, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

With China, Russia, North Korea and Iran ramping up cruise and ballistic missile programs, cutting U.S. missile-defense funding makes no sense. Yet the House would nearly halve funding for such a system that's ready to protect the Washington, D.C., area.

Known as JLENS (Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor), it can detect and intercept missiles, drones and airplanes long before they reach the United States. Former Navy officer and Defense Department official Chet Nagle tells The Washington Free Beacon that JLENS would provide something America now lacks: “homeland cruise missile defense.”

Developed at a cost of $2.7 billion, JLENS is ready to deploy anywhere it's needed, says defense contractor Raytheon. It had been expected to enter final testing and a three-year test deployment at the Army's Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. Yet the House wants to slash JLENS' $54 million in fiscal-year 2015 funding by $25 million. Defense experts tell The Free Beacon that would force the Army to choose between JLENS maintenance and JLENS integration into the air defense system for the nation's capital.

Thankfully, Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee oppose the House's cut and can protect JLENS funding when lawmakers from both chambers finalize the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act in conference committee. Restoring that $25 million for JLENS, a tiny blip in overall defense spending, will ensure that U.S. missile defense takes a big step forward.

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