Join the Alliance

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
The Honorable Angus S. King Jr., Chairman, Senate Committee on Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, receives testimony on missile defense strategy, policies, and programs in review of the Defense Authorization Request for fiscal year 2023 and the Future Years Defense Program, May 18th, 2022.

Fire what?!? What are we firing? As you know, we’ve talked about this, I am gravely concerned about the strategic change in the whole scene of battle that hypersonics represent. And I know we’re working on it and we’re talking about it. I want a sense of urgency… I want to know how close we are to having a defense.”

– The Honorable Angus S. King Jr., Chairman, Senate Committee on Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, responded to Vice Admiral Jon Hill, Director of the Missile Defense Agency, after Admiral Hill’s explanation of the missile defense enterprise relying on future availability of fire control quality data from the missile warning architecture.

“Yes, sir, Senator. Thanks for that question. We often talk about hypersonics and assume we’re at zero. We are not at zero. I mentioned earlier that we have a command and control battle management capability that takes the space sensors that we have today, the land-based sensors and the sea-based sensors. And what’s really key about sea base is that is where the defensive capability resides today. When a carrier strike group goes forward to use your example, they have some number of destroyers with them. And on those destroyers today, the sea-based terminal capability is on those ships.

“We did that based on a request from the [Chief of Naval Operations], because he was concerned about the carrier killer missile. You’ve heard plenty about that in the press. It looks ballistic, so we have an ability with SM-3 in the upper tier to take out that threat. And then we have, in the lower tier, Sea-Based Terminal, which is really a capability that we insert into the SM-6 missile that the Navy produces. So the Navy is producing those in number. MDA is providing the software package and the work in the combat system to control that missile. So we have the capability to take on the advanced maneuvering threat and terminal.

“I will say terminal is not sufficient. As I mentioned earlier, it is the most difficult place to engage. High maneuver, high speed, and again, you don’t know where terminal is. Generally in the sea base, it’s going to be after the carrier. So the destroyers will operate in close quarters and ensure that they provide that protection. Now, because it’s not good enough, the investments that we’re making in PB23 is toward the glide phase interceptor. So when you think of having a layered defense against the glide vehicle, that then dips down and comes in and does the maneuver, we have the ability to stop that at the glide phase, the most vulnerable place-“

– Vice Admiral Hill

“Do we have it? You said we have the ability.”

– Chairman King

“We have three contractors in play right now to deliver that capability. We’re moving towards a demo over the next few years. So we’ll down select this year to two and we’ll continue to move through. And then we’ll deliver that demo, conduct an exercise with that.“

– Vice Admiral Hill

Ranking Member Fischer concerned with slow progress

“How long do you think you’re going to be collecting all this data on these [wide field of view and HBTSS] prototypes before we’re ever going to see any kind of plan for what the future is going to be, for what we’re going to need in the future?”

– Ranking Member Fischer

“Yes, Ma’am. If we get this right, in terms of defining the architecture based on the data we have, we can make decisions as early as possible. My-“

– Vice Admiral Hill

“What does that mean, early as possible? You know I get really nervous when I hear dates like 2028 for something, and we’re pleased that it’s 2027. How are we going condense the time period then maybe have to accept more risk?”

– Ranking Member Fischer

“Perhaps. But I think right now we’re not starting from zero, in the storytelling of putting two up in March of ’23, there’s work that’s being done now in that architecture. Decisions can be made early for that proliferation and planning for that and making sure that we have the industry lined up to execute.”

– Vice Admiral Hill

“At the hearing last year, I asked about the status of implementing section 1684 of the FY 2017 NDAA which requires the Department to designate a single entity as the lead acquisition organization for defending the homeland from cruise missiles…When can we expect the Department to finally resolve this?”

– Ranking Member Fischer

“Thank you, Senator Fisher. As you are probably aware, both the Secretary and the Deputy Secretary have committed to moving this forward. I’m hesitant to give you a specific date, but I think it’s in the near future and the Joint Staff is working on that, is my understanding.”

– Assistant Secretary Plumb

“I would just like to note another thing I’m worried about is lack of action. It would be nice to see things move forward at a quicker pace.”

– Ranking Member Fischer

Concerns with timeline and impact of inflation

“The President’s budget submission for the Missile Defense Agency is 9.6 billion dollars, a decrease from the Fiscal Year 2022 to enacted level of 10.3 billion dollars. I would like to know how the Fiscal Year 2023 budget request continues your effort for Homeland and Regional Missile Defense, as well as defense against new threats, such as hypersonic missiles.”

– Chairman King

“Overall, the budget request for Fiscal Year 2023 is a significant improvement over what the administration proposed last year and contains robust funding for the next generation interceptor program, as well as for the defense of Guam. While I’m happy to see the department finalize its plan for defending Guam and dedicate significant resources to do so, I can’t help but feel that this effort is already behind. The last two INDOPACOM commanders supported this project and this subcommittee proposed to begin funding it two years ago, an effort that was ultimately rejected in favor of further study. In the time that’s passed, the threat has only gotten worse.

“Additionally, I continue to be concerned about the overall level of funding for missile defense proposed in this year’s budget proposal. Compared to the FY 22 appropriation, the Missile Defense Agency’s budget would decline by over 700 million dollars, a reduction of over 7% at a time when threats are growing, and the department’s purchasing power is being eroded by the effects of inflation.”

– Ranking Member Fischer

NORTHCOM commander describing the threat

“It’s my honor to represent the men and women of the United States Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command as we defend Canada and the United States. NORTHCOM and NORAD faced the most dynamic and strategically complex environment in our respective histories. Strategic competitors have openly declared their intent to hold our Homeland at risk in an effort to advance their own entrance and limit our options and ability to respond. North Korea continues to test nuclear capable ballistic missiles with increased range and lethality, while Russia and China have fielded and continued to invest heavily in advanced long range cruise missiles, hypersonic missiles, and delivery platforms. As we’ve seen throughout Russia’s unprovoked and irresponsible invasion of Ukraine, Russia has fielded large numbers of long range cruise missiles, including hypersonic missiles that can cause enormous damage to infrastructure, create strategic effects with conventional warheads.

“These conventional precision strike capabilities and advanced delivery platforms are designed specifically to hold critical infrastructure in the Homeland at risk below the nuclear threshold, in order to disrupt and delay our ability to project power globally, while attempting to undermine our will to intervene in a regional crisis overseas. In my view, missile defense of the Homeland starts with the strategic deterrent to include the options and survivability provided by reliable and effective nuclear triad, but as I testified before the full committee, I’m concerned that deterrence by cost imposition does not adequately account for the conventional capabilities our competitors have already fielded. This over reliance increases the risk of miscalculation and escalation because it limits our national leaders’ options in crisis and conflict.

“To account for the full range of our competitors nuclear and conventional capabilities, it is necessary to balance deterrence by cost imposition with deterrence by denial, an integrated deterrence that employs all elements of national influence. This integrated approach leverages both military and nonmilitary capabilities in order to provide our leaders with a wide range of timely deterrence options. To be clear, we must continually demonstrate to potential aggressors that an attack on the Homeland will result in failure. We do that by demonstrating reliable and effective capabilities that cause potential adversaries to doubt their chances of an effective attack on the Homeland. This is why I continues to support Vice Admiral Hill’s plan to field the next generation interceptor by 2028 or sooner, if possible.

“Deterrence by denial also includes demonstrating Homeland readiness, responsiveness, and resiliency along a range of kinetic and non-kinetic capabilities to defend the Homeland. NORTHCOM’s support to civil authorities and our security cooperation relationships with allies and partners are critical to integrated deterrence, as is NORAD’s mission to provide threat warning and attack assessment and defend the approaches to North America.

“In this strategic environment, we cannot wait for our competitors to act. It is vital that we get ahead of our competitors’ decision making and provide our national leaders with timely and informed options needed to achieve favorable outcomes. With that necessity in mind, NORTHCOM and NORAD are focused on four strategic principles in our Homeland Defense design, starting with all domain awareness, to include the cyber domain. Simply put, we have to be able to see the threats in order to deter, and if required, defeat them.”

– General VanHerck

NORTHCOM Commander has significant concerns in ability to defend  

“General VanHerck, you talked about the homeland, we’ve got a lot of work to do defending the homeland with hypersonics from China and ballistic missiles. My understanding is we have a majority of our F-22s and 35s in Alaska. Do we have a defense system up there that will protect them?”

– Senator Tuberville 

“Senator, it depends on what we’re protecting them from. I’m confident in the ground-based interceptors that are there. From ballistic missiles, yes, we do have that capability. With regards to cruise missiles, hypersonic cruise missiles that are actually currently coastal defense cruise missiles in Russia, I have significant concerns about my ability to defend those assets. Not only F-22s, Senator, you have significant portions of our ballistic missile and our threat warning capabilities in Alaska. Cobra Dane is out there at Clear Station. We have the radar and we’re building our long-range discriminating radar, as well.”

– General VanHerck

– – – – –

Click here to access the video recording and written statements.

Click here for a full transcript.

Senate Committee on Armed Services, Strategic Force Subcommittee members engaged in this discussion: 

– The Honorable Senator Angus S. King Jr., Chairman (Rhode Island)

– The Honorable Senator Debra S. Fischer, Ranking Member (Nebraska)

– The Honorable Senator Thomas H. Tuberville (Alabama)

– The Honorable Senator M. Michael Rounds (South Dakota)

– The Honorable Senator Mazie K. Hirono (Hawaii)


– Dr. David Honey, Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering

– Dr. John Plumb, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy

– General Glen VanHerck, Commander US Northern Command

– Vice Admiral Jon Hill, Director Missile Defense Agency

– Lieutenant General Dan Karbler, Commander US Army Space and Missile Defense Command

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.