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General John Hyten, the STRATCOM Commander, testifying before SASC on March 20, 2018.

In prelude to the Senate Armed Services Committee’s (SASC) hearing today on Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) Policies and Programs today at 2:30PM EST, Congress appears close to passing a $1.3 trillion omnibus appropriations bill to fun the entire government through the remainder of Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18), which ends on September 30, 2018. In this appropriations bill, Congress would appropriate $9.5 billion to the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) for the remainder of FY18, which when combined with a $2.0 appropriation for FY18 in December 2017, would mean a total of $11.5 billion appropriated to MDA in FY18. Below is a brief breakdown on what funding is increased in this bill.

  • This bill would appropriate $9.5 billion for MDA for the remainder of FY2018
    • This is a $1.6 billion increase on the FY18 budget request
    • Total FY2018 appropriations for MDA is $11.5 billion ($3.6 billion above the FY18 budget request of $7.9 billion)
      • Includes the $2.0 billion appropriated in December 2017 for FY2018
        • $960 million for additional THAAD and Aegis interceptors
        • $568 million to initiate expansion of Missile Field #4 at FT. Greely, with 20 additional GBIs equipped with the newest kill vehicle
        • $123 million to support Joint Emerging Operational Need from U.S. Forces Korea for integration and more efficient use of missile defense systems
        • $349 million that is not defined by the public readout
      • This means FY2018 will be funded $3.3 billion above what was appropriated in FY2017 ($8.2 billion)
  • Breakdown of the $1.6 billion increase above the FY2018 Budget request (This breakdown actually came out to $1.82 billion, so that means they must have cut $220 million requested for other programs to reach the $1.6 billion increase)
    • $558 million more for Israeli Cooperative Programs as requested by Israeli Government (Request was $148 million)
    • $178 million more for additional SM-3 Block IB interceptors (Request was $454 million)
    • $165 million more for additional THAAD interceptors (Request was $452 million)
    • $393 million more to accelerate the development and fielding of 20 GBIs with a modern kill vehicle in new missile field in Ft. Greely (Request was $0)
    • $218 million more to accelerate the response to a Joint Emerging Operational Need from U.S. Forces Korea (Request was $0)
    • $137 million more to conduct an intercept flight test of the SM-3 Block IIA missile (Request was $0)
    • $90 million more to increase sensor discrimination capability against advanced threats (Request was $0)
    • $81 million more to begin replacing the aging MDA fleet of aircraft and sensors that collect data during MDA flight tests (Request was $8 million)

On Tuesday, General John Hyten, Commander of U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM), testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) in the Senate’s review of the Fiscal Year 2019 Defense Authorization Request and the Future Years Defense Program. Questions and discussion on boost-phase missile defense and defense against Hypersonic threats during this STRATCOM hearing will likely be further discussed and addressed in the SASC’s hearing on BMD Policies and Programs today.

In response to a question about using space-based interceptors for boost-phase intercept from Senator Ted Cruz (Texas).

General Hyten – “As the commander of STRATCOM, I have been on the record as supporting the requirement for boost-phase intercept for the entire time that I have been in command and I have supported that for many years now. I would love to drop a missile back on somebody’s head that launched it. It’s really that simple. I think there are multiple ways to do that. I think the most important piece of the puzzle that you described is the sensor architecture that you need in order to target it. I’m a huge supporter of building space-based sensor elements to be able to target against all of those capabilities, as well as hypersonics capabilities, other capabilities in the boost-phase to get after a number of those issues. The actual technical solution, I am agnostic for. In my past I’ve worked space-based interceptor solutions and I have worked space-based sensor solutions. I am convinced that space-based sensors are absolutely required. I’m not convinced at this time that space-based interceptors are required, but the requirement is there. I will advocate for that requirement. I think there is technologies that we can talk about in a classified session that can meet that. I think that space is an overall element of that architecture, but the most important thing is the requirement for boost-phase and left-of-launch, and I think the Missile Defense Review will talk about that in more detail.”

Senator Cruz – “What specifically is required, what’s needed to get this accomplished. To make boost-phase intercept a reality?”

General Hyten – “I think that the department has to decide to integrate the number of different programs that are out there. I think the leadership in the department right now is the perfect leadership to do that. I know Dr. Mike Griffin, I know that he has looked at that technology in the past, he’s only been in office now a few weeks, but that has been important to him for a long time. I think Secretary Lord, Secretary Shanahan, and I think the Secretary of Defense support the boost-phase construct. So I think what we are going to have to do this year, is we are going to have to align all of the elements that are out there and make sure we realize, it’s not just the interceptor, it’s coming up with the entire approach to dealing with boost-phase intercept and get after that. And like I said, I think the Missile Defense Review will get to it in much more detail.”

Senator Cruz – “So what can or should this committee do?”

General Hyten – “I think the key is, look at the Missile Defense Review, the Missile Defense Review will describe the approach of the nation and the department and how to do that and then we will have a discussion about, okay, what is good, what’s bad, where do you disagree, and we will have that discussion as we go through the year. But we really need the Missile Defense Review to start that discussion.

Senator Richard Blumenthal (Connecticut) – “Talking about boost-phase intercept. Do you think this technology is doable, feasible, and should be pursued?”

General Hyten – “Senator I think the technology is actually pretty straight forward. I think the policy discussions are much more complicated, because in order to attack a missile in the boost-phase, you have to commit to dropping something on adversary territory. Now if we are in the middle of a war or a conflict, that’s really not a complicated decision. But if we’re not and we want to make that decision, that’s a very complicated policy discussion and we haven’t had a lot of discussion about the policy impacts of making a decision like that. But, from a technical perspective, I think the technology is there.”

In response to a question about whether the low-yield nuclear capability is the only U.S. response for Hypersonics from Senator Bill Nelson (Florida).

General Hyten – “That is where we stand today. But I believe we need to pursue improved sensor capabilities to be able to track, characterize, and attribute the threats wherever they come from. And right now, we have a challenge with that with our current space architecture and the limited number of radars we have around the world. In order to see those threats, I believe we need a new space sensor architecture. The Missile Defense Agency and Air Force are looking into that right now. There’s $42 million dollars in the FY19 budget in the Air Force line to look at that alongside of MDA as a prototype. I am going to advocate as I have advocated for the last 30 years, that we need to move into space and we need to be able to build sensors to conduct both the characterization of these new threats that are appearing, as well as discriminate better and earlier, the midcourse element of that exists today.”

Mission Statement

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.