$20.3 billion, the highest requested amount ever recorded in the United States history, has been requested for missile defense and defeat for the defense of the United States homeland, its forward deployed military forces, and its allies for fiscal year (FY) 2021. Driven by the implementation of the National Defense Strategy that acknowledged a return to great power competition against the threats of China and Russia, and coupled with the defense from rogue states of Iran and North Korea, there is a new reality for the proliferation and use of missiles (ballistic, hypersonic, and cruise) to project power.
“Our missile defeat and defense investment promotes an expanded layered defense architecture that is flexible and adaptable and leverages space technology. The $20.3 billion missile defense budget includes $9.2 billion for the Missile Defense Agency, $7.9 billion in regional and strategic missile defense capabilities outside of MDA, and $3.2 billion in missile defeat or left-of-launch activities. Notable investments include development of the next-generation interceptor to replace the aging ground-based interceptor; doubling hypersonic defense investment, which includes hypersonic and ballistic tracking space sensor; the prototype development and increasing capability and capacity of existing interceptors in a layered approach.” – Vice Admiral Ron Boxall, Director of Force Structure, Resources and Assessment, Joint Staff, at the Pentagon on February 10, 2020.
In this significant $20 billion investment is the introduction of force functioning the near-peers of China and Russia to redirect their national capital in funding to defend their missile forces and rethink their investments of missiles that will be challenged and negated by U.S. layered and flexible defense systems. The integration of left of launch capabilities, with space capabilities, and a layered cross-domain regional and U.S. homeland defenses connected by the joint all-domain command & control (JADC2) presents the new defensive-offensive deterrent that will change investment, calculus, and deterrence from Russia, China, and rogue nations.
As the United States sets its quest for the best defense of its homeland with the existing 44 Ground-Based Interceptors (GBIs) and a close to $5 billion future years defense program (FYDP) investment on the next generation interceptor (NGI), projected to be tested and deployed by the late 2020s, the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) will be leading the underlayer of Aegis and the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) to be deployed for increased defense of the U.S. homeland prior to the deployment of the NGIs. Aegis ballistic missile defense (BMD) and its Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IIA interceptor, which the production of six additional missiles is requested for FY21 will be tested against an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) later this year, will enable a ship-based underlayer capability off the coasts of the United States next year. Added to this layer could be a future Aegis Ashore America (AAA) of deploying Aegis Ashore sites, or a disaggregated version with remote launchers and remote sensors, on the U.S. homeland and territories.
THAAD will also be a lower-end of the underlayer since, as stated by MDA Director Vice Admiral Hill, “It’s in a trade space — it’s an engineering trade space today. The — the — one of the reasons why THAAD is such an attractive weapon to use against ICBMs — and we haven’t gone against those yet, by the way, right, so that — that system wasn’t designed for that but we know there’s capability within that weapons system — total weapons system and within the missile itself.”
THAAD has a validated inherent capability to intercept ICBMs and was previously deployed operationally in Kauai at the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) to defend Hawaii in 2009 from North Korean ICBMs. THAAD, unlike any other missile defense system, uses the threat missile’s re-entry into the atmosphere as a natural discriminator to strip off countermeasures. There are currently seven THAAD batteries – five based in Texas and three deployed to South Korea, Guam, and Saudi Arabia – and 584 THAAD interceptors purchased, with an additional 41 interceptors requested in the FY21 budget proposal. Coupled with the completion of the Joint Emergent Operational Need (JEON) for the Korean Peninsula in FY21, which provides a remote fire capability of THAAD interceptors and launchers within a THAAD battery to greatly expand the defended area of the systems. The THAAD capability and capacity could be deployed in the underlayer defense of the homeland quickly if the threat required it beyond the 44 existing GBIs. Current developments to this underlayer include additional booster stack to THAAD interceptors to provide it an extended range. The current Saudi Arabia Foreign Military Sales (FMS) of seven THAAD batteries and interceptors reduces the costs of the interceptors as well as sensors and enables funding for development of the system that would apply to U.S. homeland defense.
What is glaringly missing from the $20.3 billion investment in missile defense for the FY21 request are three critical systems that reduce risk and best fill the gaps of capability and capacity for the next decade against current and growing threats.
Below is a breakdown of the DOD budget for missile defeat and defense (MDD).
The FY 2021 budget request includes $20.3 billion for MDD, which includes $9.2 billion for the Missile Defense Agency (MDA), $7.9 billion in regional and strategic missile defense capabilities outside of MDA, and $3.2 billion in missile defeat or left-of-launch activities.
For U.S. missile defense capabilities, the MDA FY 2021 budget request is $9.2 billion:
Outside of MDA, the Department invested nearly $7.9 billion in regional and strategic missile defense capabilities:
Finally, the Department invested $3.2 billion for left-of-launch capabilities involving cyber and hypersonic strike.
MDAA’s mission is to make the world safer by advocating for the development and deployment of missile defense systems to defend the United States, its armed forces and its allies against missile threats.
MDAA is the only organization in existence whose primary mission is to educate the American public about missile defense issues and to recruit, organize, and mobilize proponents to advocate for the critical need of missile defense. We are a non-partisan membership-based and membership-funded organization that does not advocate on behalf of any specific system, technology, architecture or entity.