Eight months ago, President Donald Trump – the Commander in Chief – put forward his plan and vision for his administration with Congress to deliver to the American public a safer and more secure America and world from missile proliferation. At the release of the Missile Defense Review (MDR) in January, President Trump stated, “Our goal is simple: to ensure that we can detect and destroy any missile launched against the United States — anywhere, anytime, anyplace.”
Since January, China and Russia have significantly expanded their missile stockpiles and made advances in hypersonics. Russia has tested a nuclear-powered cruise missile – codenamed Skyfall by the NATO – and the Russian Army has conducted drills practicing the stealth deployment of medium-range nuclear capable Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad. With its glider technology and nuclear capability, China’s hypersonic DF-17 medium-range missile threatens regional stability by strengthening China’s Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) capabilities in the island chains and combined with expansionist claims in the South China Sea. Russia and China for the first time since the Korean War are conducting joint air patrols in the Asian-Pacific region using long range aircraft that are armed with over the horizon long distance cruise missiles. Russia is testing its Submarine launching capabilities U.S. bases in the Indo-Pacific are exposed to Chinese and North Korean missiles. North Korea has recently tested missiles that are more capable and can better target South Korea and Japan – encompassing eight American bases housing 30,000 troops. Despite a recently failed launch, Iran has improved the capabilities of its ballistic missiles and both anti-ship and land-attack cruise missiles for a 360 degree demonstrated missile capability to target U.S. assets in the Middle East, as well as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) armed with air-to-ground missiles that it also transfers to allies, including Hezbollah, Houthi rebels, and Shi’ite militias for use in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Yemen as testing grounds against U.S. targets.
Where is the United States of America in achieving the goal of detecting and destroying any missile launched against the United States from anywhere, anytime and anyplace?
With a little over a year left before the 2020 U.S Presidential election, we objectively assess what has been achieved by President Trump in his stated vision that is United States National Policy and in the MDR which is to implement the President’s policy.
These are President Trump’s listed six policies, approved by the National Security Council, in his speech at the Pentagon on January 17 and their current status.
Green – Has been accomplished/significant progress is being made
Yellow – Some progress has been made
Red – No progress/has not been accomplished
First, we will prioritize the defense of the American people above all else.
The Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system for the defense against Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) of the United States remains at high state of readiness and has exercised alert functions for real world launches over the last month. The GMD system was successfully tested in a real world scenario on March 25, 2019, that was overseen and certified by the DOD’s Department of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E). The intercept test was the first salvo launch of two different generation interceptors, which leveraged and fused data from multiple sensors in multiple domains to prove out high reliability and high confidence to be able to intercept limited numbers of North Korean ICBMs that could target the United States homeland.
Yellow New radars and sensors to immediately detect foreign missiles launched against our great nation.
- The Long-Range Discrimination Radar (LRDR), in development and planned prior to the Trump Administration, at Clear AFB, Alaska is on track to reach initial fielding in 2020 and operational fielding by U.S. Air Force Airmen and National Guard in 2022.
- The two Homeland Defense Radars (HDR), entered planning and development under the Trump Administration, will be smaller versions of the LRDR located in Hawaii and an undisclosed location in the Pacific. The HDR-Hawaii radar is expected to start construction in FY 2021 and initial fielding in FY 2023. The HDR-Pacific radar is expected to be fielded in 2026.
Red Our review calls for 20 new Ground Based Interceptors (GBI) at Ft. Greely, Alaska…
Missile Field 4 in Fort Greely, Alaska to base 20 additional GBIS in silos is in construction, under cost, and ahead of schedule. The recent cancellation of the Redesigned Kill Vehicle (RKV) has delayed the deployment of 20 additional GBIs which were planned to be tipped with the RKV and deployed as early as 2025. It is currently unknown when the 20 additional “next generation” GBIs will be fielded as industry proposals for the project are just now moving forward. Speculation is a ten year development process with the first operational deployment around 2030.
Second, we will focus on developing new technology, not just investing more money into existing systems.
Yellow The United States cannot simply build more of the same, or make only incremental improvements.
- Developing a next generation GBI
- Developing a hit-to-kill, extended-range, air-to-air boost-phase interceptor (BPI)
- Developing hypersonic missile defense interceptors. MDA is working with the Army and Navy as they develop an offensive hypersonic capability to research and study how to defend against hypersonic weapons.
Yellow We must pursue the advanced technology and research to guarantee that the United States is always several steps ahead of those who would do us harm.
- Several studies, which have been completed, in the MDR for space-based intercept layer, defense against hypersonic threats, and expanding or modernizing existing capabilities.
- Continued funding in the Missile Defense Agency’s budget for directed energy maturation. However, using directed energy for missile defense has been researched and sought for decades now.
- Neutral Particle Beam demonstrator for a Space-Based Directed Energy intercept layer demonstration has been cancelled.
- Highly classified Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and industry development projects.
Third, we will protect the American people from all types [ballistic, cruise, and hypersonic] of missile attacks.
Yellow The U.S. will now adjust its posture to also defend against any missile strikes, including cruise and hypersonic missiles.
- Joint Emergent Operational Need (JEON) request by the U.S. Forces Korea Command will result in the integration of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) and Patriot missile defense systems. Will allow Patriot missile defense systems to engage-on-remote from TPY-2 radars.
- Recent THAAD test this past week showed engage-on-remote capability.
- Recent test of Patriot Advance Capability-3 (PAC-3) interceptor to engage a cruise missile using remote sensors through the Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System (IBCS).
- Studies to integrate F-35 aircraft for overhead sensor coverage and also as a potential to launch interceptors for homeland and regional defense.
- U.S. Army purchase of Iron Dome batteries for an interim short-range air defense (SHORAD) capability. However, the Army has not developed a credible cruise missile defense capability.
- Development to extend the range of the SM-6 missile.
Yellow Defense against hypersonic missiles and glide vehicles
An initial $75 million was requested by MDA in FY2018. Funding in FY2020 request has grown to $157.4 million.
Red Examine technologies and concepts that could be used to expand defensive surveillance capability to the rest of North America
Fourth, we will recognize that space is a new warfighting domain, with the Space Force leading the way.
Green Create a Space Command and Space Force
On Thursday August 29, 2019, President Trump authorized the creation of U.S. Space Command. A new Space Force requires authorization from Congress.
Red My upcoming budget will invest in a space-based missile defense layer.
FY 2020 request included funding for a Neutral Particle Beam to conduct a feasibility demonstration for a Space-Based Directed Energy intercept layer. However, this Neutral Particle Beam program has been cancelled.
Red Invest in a space-based sensor layer
Moved funding from MDA to new Space-Development Agency. Funding for architecture overall, which MDA has been studying already for years. There is bipartisan support in Congress for the deployment of a space-based discrimination sensor layer in low Earth Orbit (LEO) and medium Earth orbit (MEO) constellation in the near future. A space-based discrimination layer will provide birth-to-death tracking for cruise, ballistic and hypersonic missiles.
Fifth, we will remove bureaucratic obstacles to dramatically speed up the acquisition and deployment of the new technology.
Green Separates the Under Secretary for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics into two Under Secretary positions, one for Acquisition and Sustainment and one for Research and Engineering.
Yellow Streamline and refine the acquisition authorities used to develop, test, and field missile defenses while ensuring rigorous testing.
Cancelation of RKV and rapid development of next generation interceptor for deployment in 2030 timeframe.
And sixth, we will insist on fair burden sharing with our allies.
Green North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) members, Gulf Coalition Council (GCC) members, Japan, and South Korea are sharing the responsibility for defense against missile attacks.
Green Direct the DoD to prioritize the sale of American missile defense technology to our allies and partners.
Green The Trump administration has approved 49 proposed FMS to 25 countries/organizations for a total of $65.511 billion – more than three times the comparable period during the Obama administration – including the blocked $15 billion Terminal High Altitude Area Defense sale to Saudi Arabia and the $10.5 billion Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System-enabled Patriot Configuration-3+ sale to Poland.
Yellow Some allies have been increasing defense spending that has included air and missile defense capabilities. But there is still more progress to be made.
These are the Department of Defense’s implementation of President Trumps policy statements above in the formation of the 2019 MDR (spell it out). The MDR is a guidance document for the prioritization of the MDA’s FY 2021 – FY 2025 Future Year Defense Program (FYDP) projections to implement the national defense policy on missile defense laid out by President Trump in his speech at the MDR release in January.
The Missile Defense Review stated these priorities and objectives:
Deploy additional land- and sea-based missile defense systems
Yellow This objective is being partially fulfilled. One Aegis ship, the USS Paul Ignatius, has been commissioned since the MDR was published. No new purchases of Patriot or THAAD systems. Additional interceptors for Aegis, Patriot, and THAAD have been purchased. Additional 20 GBIs have been delayed to allow for the development of a next generation GBI for deployment in 2030 timeframe.
Integrate regional missile defenses with attack operations
Green This objective is being fulfilled. There has been some progress on offense/defense integration since the MDR’s reveal.
Tailor our regional missile defenses to support the security of our allies and partners.
Green This objective is being fulfilled. International live fire exercises with partners have been conducted to ensure interoperability. THAAD deployments to Israel and Romania, and additional Patriot deployments to the Middle East. The JEON in Korea and cooperation with GCC members for a 360 degree defense capability.
Continue to streamline and refine the current flexible acquisition authorities used to develop, test, and field missile defenses while ensuring rigorous testing.
Yellow This objective is being partially fulfilled. No new systems have been developed, tested, or fielded since the MDR’s publishing. The RKV program has been canceled to allow for the development of a next generation GBI. Space Development Agency (SDA) established with intent for faster acquisition of space capabilities, but outcome is still to be determined.
Yellow The Army has not developed a credible cruise missile defense capability to provide defense for key logistical hubs and for the maneuvering unit. Only the National Capital Region (NCR) and Aegis ships have a credible cruise missile defense capability.
Strengthen regional missile defense architectures in Indo-Pacific, Europe, and the Middle East and encourage allies and partners to share more widely the responsibility for our common defense against missile attacks.
Yellow This objective is being partially fulfilled. Several arms sales purchases, such as Saudi Arabia acquiring THAAD, have been announced. Again, THAAD deployments to Israel and Romania, and additional Patriot deployments to Middle East. Increased focus on defense of Guam. Expanding U.S. and Japan cooperation on the jointly developed SM-3 Block IIA interceptor.
Field interoperable missile defenses and integrate them where feasible with allied and partner missile defenses to enhance the effectiveness of our defenses against ballistic and cruise missile attacks.
Green This objective is being fulfilled. Temporary deployments of THAAD to Romania and Israel, along with more permanent deployments to the Middle East, Indo-Pacific, and European theaters have bolstered defenses. Test of Israel’s Arrow-3 using TPY-2 radar in Alaska. Further development and increased integration of lower layer missile defense systems into Command and Control, Battle Management, and Communications (C2BMC).
Increase capacity of GMD system and homeland defense.
Yellow This objective is being partially fulfilled. It is uncertain when the additional ground-based interceptors for GMD will be deployed after the cancelation of the RKV and the start to develop a next generation GBI. RKV program was terminated and development of a next generation GBI has been started, but speed of relevancy is an issue. SM-3 Block IIA will be tested against an ICBM target in 2020 to prove out its ability to be an underlayer to current GMD capacity. Development of a boost-phase intercept (BPI) layer would also increase defense capacity for both homeland and regional defense.
Increase capability of GMD system
Green This objective is being fulfilled. The redesigned kill vehicle (RKV) program was terminated on August 22nd. Process will be started on the development of a next generation GBI.
Field a Space-Based Kill Assessment capability
Green This objective is being fulfilled. The SKA is still in the experimental phase and has not been operationally deployed. In FY 2020 MDA “will focus on steps necessary to potentially add the SKA system to the operational BMDS.”
Deploy a new missile tracking and discrimination sensors in Alaska, Hawaii, and the Pacific region.
Green This objective is being fulfilled. LRDR construction continues in Alaska with initial fielding in 2020 and operational fielding in 2023. Plans for two Homeland Defense Radars (HDR), which will be smaller versions of the LRDR, located in Hawaii and an undisclosed location in the Pacific. The HDR-Hawaii radar is expected to start construction in FY2021 and initial fielding in FY2023. The HDR-Pacific radar is expected to be fielded in 2026.
Bolster the National Capital Region’s defenses against cruise missiles
Yellow This objective is being partially fulfilled. Homeland cruise missile defense (HLD-CMD) is forthcoming.
Improve and adapt existing missile defense systems
Red This objective has not been fulfilled. No significant progress has been made at adapting current capabilities for emerging threats.
Make significant progress on pursuing new missile defense capabilities
Yellow This objective is being partially fulfilled. Funding has prioritized increasing capacity of current system and not towards development of new systems. Plans to develop a next generation GBI has been announced. A new air-to-air kinetic interceptor for boost-phase intercept. MDA is developing operational prototypes for Hypersonic and Ballistic Tracking Space Sensor (HBTSS). The Space Development Agency (SDA) is going to build out the architecture.
Improve U.S. early warning system to combat against advanced threats
Yellow This objective is being partially fulfilled. Sensor systems for emerging threats have not been developed, especially in regard to the hypersonic threat.
We are making significant progress in accomplishing the challenging task of defending our nation against ballistic and cruise missile threats. President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have personally guided the development and designation of a Combatant Command for Space and they are continuing to aggressively drive the evolution of the SDA and for a Space Force. The President remains consistent in his demand for allied burden sharing and increased defense spending. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper is challenging and addressing the great power and strategic threats to our country as articulated in the National Defense Strategy. Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, Mike Griffin, is leading with courage by canceling the RKV and striving to be more efficient, more technically capable, and to accelerate the acquisition process. Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, John Rood, is leading with the implementation of the MDR and improving it. MDA Director, Vice Admiral Jon Hill, is driving technical solutions to complex missile defense challenges.
The success of the President’s National Security Policy on missile defense and the Secretary of Defense’s MDR is not measured simply by examining spending levels or about ensuring we spend more money on missile defense, but rather it is about ensuring that we spend the right money, focused in the right way, looking for efficiency and effectiveness across the domains, services, and with our allies.
An honest assessment of our missile defense efforts must conclude that despite a number of successes, there remains inconsistent progress in achieving technical solutions and in integrating our missile defense forces; and in missile defense you are only as strong as your weakest link. To have credible missile defense, the reds need to move to yellow, and the yellows to green.