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Cynthia Talmadge, As The World Turns, 2018

The world is evolving rapidly as the second decade of the 21st Century has been marked by increasing instability in the global security environment. The strengthening power and influence of coercive nation-states like China and Russia are causing a tectonic shift in U.S. security and economic policy.

Across the globe and across the spectrum of military capabilities, challenges, and threats from these potential adversaries are growing. For example, this past week, Russian naval vessels threatened to ram a U.S. navy destroyer in the Sea of Japan, and Russia conducted the third test of its Tsirkon hypersonic missile this year. The missile successfully hit a naval target 450km away, at speeds of over Mach 8 (+6,100mph). On Tuesday, Russia announced the deployment of state-of-the-art air defense missiles to the Kuril Islands, claimed by Japan.

In parallel, China performed a ground test of its Dong Feng-17 (DF-17) hypersonic missile in which the engine ran for a record-setting 600 seconds. The DF-17 itself operates with a range of 1,800-2,500km. Additionally, China demonstrated their long-range anti-ship ballistic missile capability against a moving target during South China Sea exercises and also unveiled a new air-launched anti-radiation missile (ARM).

These emerging systems are proliferating, and they’re relaunching a new generation of global competition that creates instability. In response to these Chinese and Russian developments and demonstrations:
  • ​India tested its Brahmos supersonic cruise missile this week and, in September, tested its own Brahmos-II hypersonic missile.
  • Australia announced its partnership with the U.S. for the development of an air-launched hypersonic missile.
  • Germany joined the European Union-led effort to develop the Timely Warning and Interception of Hypersonic threats with Space-Based Theater Surveillance (TWISTER) network.

The world is witnessing the rapid development of advanced threats, combined with cyber capabilities, across all domains: from sophisticated cruise missiles, to hypersonic vehicles, modernization of nuclear forces, and challenging and complex ballistic missiles. These threats are being deployed with new and improved long-distance ranges from a variety of air, land, maritime surface, submarine platforms, and, in the future, from space.

While nuclear deterrence continues to be a critical element of the U.S. response and a necessity in countering and deterring armed conflict with near-peer adversaries, it remains insufficient on its own to maintain a stable global security landscape. This is especially true given the technological obliteration of the lines that used to separate tactical, theater, regional, and strategic capabilities.

Today, it is critical to deter potential attacks and conflicts with adversaries utilizing both offensive and defensive capabilities. This includes robust, layered defenses of U.S. territory, U.S. Forces forward-deployed, and working with key allies and partners. In addition, we must continue to improve our defenses with new capabilities, in order to defend against the threats that exist today and the future’s array of substantial technology leaps regarding the air and missile threats of the near-peers, that we see under development. Effective defenses strengthen deterrence by making it clear to potential adversaries that an attack can be defended against, and that an attacker would then face the prospect of a retaliatory strike. Missile defenses are stabilizing, providing alternatives to pre-emptive strikes, and can provide more time, in a crisis, for efforts at de-escalation and diplomacy to succeed.

Relying only on the threat of massive retaliation is also highly problematic when deterring authoritarian, autocratic governments who care little about the welfare of their own people and operate on a different calculus than we do in the West.

At the core of improving capabilities to handle these new threats is the U.S. investment in its integrated cross-domain air and missile defense capabilities. BMC2 forms the core of this addition of defensive capabilities that can now be adapted and integrated with offensive capabilities. Critical U.S.-led developments include: Combined Joint All Domain Command and Control (CJADC2), expanded space-based sensor capabilities, Hypersonic and Ballistic Tracking Space Sensor (HBTSS) and other plans for hypersonic defense, integrated fire control such as the Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS), along with a highly-capable set of defensive weapon systems such as Patriot, THAAD, current and next-generation Ground-Based Interceptors, and the Aegis Weapon System and Standard Missile family of interceptors. No platform in the world does this better than the Navy Aegis Weapon System, with both offensive and defensive layered capabilities integrated across all domains (including space) for remote launch and engagement of threats. The FTM-44 Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) Block IIA interception of an ICBM demonstrated this “game-changer” in the regional and strategic battlespaces.

Allied cooperation is essential in providing sufficient defense and deterrence capabilities and capacity. The addition of multi-mission AEGIS capabilities by several key allies creates a clear path to adding numerous highly-mobile maritime assets capable of operating alongside the U.S. Navy, against potential launch platforms in the air, at sea, and undersea, and provides a much-needed boost to the ability to counter the full range of air and missile threats.

In the Pacific, Japan has already invested in BMD with its Aegis ships, and is modernizing and fielding new construction of Aegis ships to deploy the SM3 Block-IIA. Both the Republic of Korea and Australia already have Aegis-capable ships that could be provided full BMD capabilities for both their own national defense and to contribute to global deterrence. They have invested in the Aegis system for Air Warfare Destroyers, and are capable of incorporating the upgrades needed for integrated air and missile defense (IAMD). Fully incorporating these key Pacific partners into the CJADC2 architecture, and their investments in the upgrades of their Aegis systems, would provide a formidable addition to defensive deterrence.

If left unchecked, hypersonic missiles, the weaponization of space assets, unmanned and autonomous systems, and other destabilizing asymmetric capabilities will present a major challenge to the United States and our allies. These capabilities will be mass-produced and readily available in the hands of adversaries and be capable of offsetting U.S. military dominance, gaining the advantage based solely on the sheer size of their arsenals.

As the world turns in this 21st Century, we must evolve and stay ahead of the global competition by enabling our allies and establishing 21st Century deterrence of offense and defense. Failure is not an option for us, our absolute mandate is to guarantee that the malicious designs of our adversaries fail.

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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.