Future BMD Systems

As technology allows new threats to evolve, the options for fielding a robust missile defense to protect the U.S. homeland, our deployed forces and allies also continue to broaden. Approaches thought to be unfeasible decades ago are quickly becoming possible and even practical. While some initiatives look to harness revolutionary technologies such as directed energy, others move to enhance currently deployed systems with existing technology.

Air and Missile Defense Radar (AMDR)

amdr-1Currently being tested and manufactured is the latest and best system in the SPY series of missile defense radars: The Air and Missile Defense Radar (AMDR) – AN/SPY-6 (V). AN/SPY-6 greatly improves capabilities of DDG-51 and Aegis allowing them to detect air and surface targets as well as the growing threat of ballistic missiles, using next generation integrated air and missile defense S-band AESA radar.

Click here to learn more about AMDR.

Boost Phase Ballistic Missile Defense


Boost phase missile defense entails the destruction of an enemy missile during the earliest stages of its flight, while it remains within the Earth’s atmosphere. A viable boost phase defense has long been considered the “holy grail” of BMD, as boosting missiles are much slower and easier to track than missiles during the midcourse or terminal stage, which makes them more vulnerable to interception. Boost phase defense also overcomes the challenges of discriminating between lethal warheads and debris, as the missile is largely intact at this stage and has not had the opportunity to deploy decoys. Early intercept during the boost phase also has the added benefit of causing the missile’s ordinance to fall back on the aggressor after the boosters have been disabled or destroyed.

Click here to learn more about boost phase missile defense.

Directed Energy


Directed energy weapons stand as a potentially tremendous development for any missile defense system, both in their own right and as a complement to kinetic weapons systems. Directed energy weapons use high-energy lasers or high-power microwaves, as opposed to the projectiles of traditional kinetic weapons. High-powered microwave systems emit electrically-powered pulses of microwave radiation at a wide angle to negate threats, while high-energy lasers direct highly focused beams of lower-powered energy—using chemical fuel or electric power—at their target. To date, most research and development in directed energy has focused on laser-based systems that use chemical, solid-state, or free electron lasers to destroy targets.

Click here to learn more about directed energy.

Electromagnetic Railgun


The EM Railgun is a long-range weapon that fires projectiles using electricity in the form of electromagnetic propulsion. Magnetic fields created by high electrical currents accelerate a sliding metal conductor, or armature, between two rails to launch projectiles from zero to mach 6 in about 10 milliseconds.

Click here to learn more about the EM Railgun.

Global Hawk Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (RQ-4)

Per a U.S. Air Force review, “the RQ-4 Global Hawk is a high-altitude, long-endurance, remotely piloted aircraft with an integrated sensor suite that provides global all-weather, day or night intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capability.”[i] The Global Hawk is operated primarily by control squadrons based at Beale Air Force Base in California and Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota, but has been deployed worldwide to assist in operational success and intelligence collection since 2001.

Click here to learn more about the Global Hawk Unmanned Aerial Vehicle.

Hyper-Velocity Powder Gun


The Hyper-Velocity Powder Gun fires a Hyper Velocity Projectile (HVP) from the 5-inch gun (MK 45) mounted on Navy ships or Army Paladins. The HVP is fired at Mach 3 and can travel a distance of approximately 30 nautical miles. This system can act as either a surface-to-surface weapon or a surface-to-air defensive weapon. The HVP fires at half the speed of a rail gun but still fires twice as fast as a traditional powder gun projectile.

Click here to learn more about the Hyper-Velocity Powder Gun.

LPD Based Ballistic Missile Defense Ship


The LPD Based Ballistic Missile Defense Ship (BMD Ship) is a conceptual naval ship design with proven pedigree and potential applications for U.S. homeland and regional missile defense. The ship design is based on the existing LPD 17 hull, and would provide a significantly more capable platform for sea-based missile defense systems than the Arleigh Burke class guided missile destroyers, the current BMD workhorse of the U.S. fleet.

Click here to learn more about the LPD Based Ballistic Missile Defense Ship.

Long-Range Discrimination Radar (LRDR)

lrdr-1In October 2015, Lockheed Martin won a quarter-billion-dollar ballistic missile defense contract to build and operate a solid-state long-range radar system called Long Range Discrimination Radar (LRDR) near Fairbanks, Alaska. Scheduled for deployment at Clear Air Force Station, LRDR will make up the backbone of the MDA’s layered defense architecture protecting the U.S. homeland from ballistic missile attack. Once fielded, the radar will be integrated into the Command, Control Battle Management and Communication network.

Click here to learn more about LRDR.

Medium Extended Air Defense System


The Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) is a missile defense system developed to meet International Common Operational Requirements and is jointly developed by the United States, Germany, and Italy. MEADS consists of five elements: surveillance radar, tactical operations center, multifunction fire control radar, launcher/reloader, and the certified missile round.

Click here to learn more about MEADS.

Medium-Range Discrimination Radar (MRDR) 

The Medium-Range Discrimination Radar (MRDR) is a proposed sensor system and component of layered Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) and Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD). The MRDR is a scaled-down version of the Long-Range Discrimination Radar (LRDR) which is set to go operational in 2020, at Clear Air Force Station, Alaska. “Discrimination” means that the radar can both detect and characterize ballistic missile threats. The S-Band radar is dual-polarized, meaning that it sends out vertical and horizontal radar waves which can differentiate between multiple targets, which may appear as one on traditional radar.

Click here to learn more about MRDR.

Multiple Object Kill Vehicle (MOKV)


The Multiple Kill Vehicle (MKV) system allows more than one kill vehi cle to b e launched from a single booster. The system consists of a carrier vehicle with on board sensors and a number of small, simple kill vehicles that can be independently cued against objects in a threat cluster. The integrated payload is designed to fit on existing and planned interceptor boosters. The MKV system includes a carrier vehicle with on-board sensors and kill vehicles weighing approximately 10 pounds. The MKV is consistent with MDA’s layered approach to BMD because it provides as many opportunities as possible to destroy an incoming missile. The system will enhance MDA’s Ground-based Midcourse Defense element.

Click here to learn more about MOKV.

Multi-Mission Launcher (MML)


The Multi-Mission Launcher (MML) is a next generation ground-based air defense launcher and represents the first development of a major acquisition program by the government in more than 30 years. Developed by CMDS and AMRDEC of the U.S. Army, MML is designed to use existing interceptors, sensors, and command and control to provide 360-degree protection and engage multiple threats arriving from different azimuths. The launcher is purposed to defeat UAS, cruise missiles, rockets, artillery, and mortars using a variety of missiles and interceptors. Employing both kinetic kill and fragmentation interceptors against various and advanced airborne threats, MML will provide expanded ground troop area protection for forces on the front line.

Click here to learn more about MML.

Reaper Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (MQ-9)

The MQ-9 Reaper is the ninth system to be produced in the U.S. Air Force’s series of remotely controlled, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). Designed to reinforce overseas contingency operations and communications, the MQ-9 executes missions to destroy time-sensitive targets with precision.[i] The MQ-9 has a secondary purpose of intelligence collection and is used for target development, reconnaissance and air support for mission planning, directly supporting U.S. irregular warfare efforts.

Click here to learn more about the Reaper Unmanned Aerial Vehicle.

F-35 Lightning II

The F-35 Lightning II is one of only two 5th generation fighters in the world. It combines advanced stealth capabilities with fighter aircraft speed and agility, fully fused sensor information, network enabled operations, and advanced logistics and sustainment. More than 400 aircraft have been delivered as of 2019 and production rates are expected to keep increasing over the next few years to fulfill the rest of the F-35s already ordered.

Click here to learn more about the F-35 Lightning II.

Missile Defense


International Cooperation