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In his speech before Congress in October 1945, President Harry Truman famously remarked that “Every new weapon will eventually bring some counterdefense against it” (quoted in Brodie 1946, 30). There are two basic forms of defense: active and passive. The former aims at reducing the number of incoming enemy weapons, while the latter is about the ability “to absorb those weapons that actually strike home” (Brodie 1959, 181). To shield against various types of hostile missiles, both carrying conventional and nuclear warheads, some states (e.g., the United States, Russia, France, Israel, Japan, and India) have developed missile defense (MD) systems— one of the most high-tech and potent, though yet not fully effective, examples of active defense.
MD systems can be divided into several categories depending ...