With regard to the article "Pentagon May Discard ASAT System" July 22 , I want to emphasize in the strongest terms that the Department of Defense remains firmly committed to the ASAT program. We are not "likely to scrap" the F-15 launched system as was stated in the article. We remain firmly convinced that the F-15 ASAT -- the first phase of our two-phase program -- is essential to our national defense.

While the technologies being explored in the second phase are promising, they are so new that we do not yet know whether they will work. If they do, they will not be available until the late 1990s or beyond. This argues strongly for the importance of the ongoing F-15 ASAT program.

In that program, we have demonstrated with our successful launch last September that the major technical risks are behind us. If Congress will support our program with the provision of adequate resources and the lifting of restrictions on tests against targets, we can proceed in an orderly fashion to address a very real threat.

In the ASAT arena, we are not dealing with issues of modernizing or providing additional capability. We are developing a capability where none currently exits, in sharp contrast to the Soviets who could use their existing systems against our satellites today. We cannot afford to defer a solution to a serious deficiency until such times as the technologies being explored in the second phase may prove suitable for deployment in operational systems.

I hope this sets the record straight with regard to a program of vital importance to our national security.