Dear Members and Friends,
On February 7 of this year, North Korea launched a non-communicating piece of metal on a three stage rocket into a polar orbit, traveling down around the south pole and up over South America to fly over California five hours prior to kick off of the Super Bowl. Iran has also put four satellites into orbit that travel over the United States and has also tested its offensive ballistic missiles four times since the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was signed; a plan that does not limit or stop Iranian ballistic missile testing, but stipulated an intent not to do so that Iran has ignored. On Friday, Iran unveiled a new long range ballistic missile with a precision guided warhead and showcased its purchase of a Russian S-300 air and missile defense system for anti-access/area-denial. Adding to this threat are 31 North Korean ballistic missile tests, two nuclear tests and still counting for this year alone. In response, the President of the United States is studying and analyzing what can be done to better defend the United States of America from these proliferating ballistic missile threats; from a Nuclear North Korea with an estimated 22 nuclear weapons and Iran, which can legally breakout in 12 months after an official notification. To better understand the ballistic missile threat from the East in Iran, MDAA will be releasing a 3D panorama depicting an underground launch preparation room for an Iranian Qiam missile on Tuesday, September 27.
To increase reliability of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system (GMD), MDA will execute FTG-15 in the first quarter of next year, which will test the upgrades and fixes for the newest generation of Ground-Based Interceptor (GBI), the CE-2, through a live intercept test. Increased reliability for GBIs lowers the amount of shots needed to intercept and is based on two major factors: (1) the performance of the kill vehicle and (2) the reliability of the booster rockets carrying the EKV (exoatmospheric kill vehicle) into space. First deployed in 2004, these aging GBI booster rockets have a lifetime of 20 years. Both the EKV and it’s the GBI rocket boosters require annual testing, as does the strategic force of U.S. ICBMs, which are annually tested four times a year. The United States is currently on pace to deploy 44 GBIs by the end of next year, 40 of them in Alaska and four in California.
There is concern that through testing and retrofitting the United States may not be able to adequately sustain 44 deployed GBIs for the defense of the nation. Further, the production line of these GBIs will cease when the final 44th GBI is deployed in the fall of next year, thereby waiting until the new redesigned kill vehicle (RKV) and C3 booster are both funded, tested and proven, which now looks to be around 2021 at the earliest. With the GBI fleet still consisting of large numbers of first generation GBIs, it would seem logical and in the country’s best national security interest that all first generation interceptors be replaced once the upcoming FTG-15 proves final validation of the CE-2 interceptors.
One of the options the U.S. President is weighing for enhancing the nation’s ballistic missile defense system is the deployment of a third GMD site for the Eastern United States to increase the capacity of the GMD system. With the proven fixes in the GBI validated, this East U.S. site would offer more capacity, providing up to 60 more silos that would offer more protection and additional geographic produced battle space than the current two sites: one in the North in Alaska with 40 interceptors, and the other in the West in California, which is limited to four interceptors.
The third site in the East would provide better missile defense for the lower 48 states from ballistic missile threats coming from the Southern Hemisphere and from Iran in the East–especially to the state of Florida which is at the edge of the current range of defense, as well as the nation’s capital and New York City–and adds an additional layer of defense from a potential North Korean raid of ballistic missiles, enabling battle space to intercept between Alaska and the lower 48 states as well as allowing intercept of threats coming from the North East. Under President Obama’s Administration and with Congressional requirement, a preferred selection of one of these three GMD missile defense sites will be announced by the end of this year. The three potential sites in question are Fort Drum in upstate New York, Fort Custer in western Michigan, and Camp Ravenna in northern Ohio.
MDAA this past week toured one of the three GMD sites, Fort Custer in Michigan, and talked with communities from Detroit to Kalamazoo, providing information on the issue and the potential GMD system under consideration to be deployed there; a deployment which would help protect 330 million people living in North America.
This remains one of the most important options for the President to consider, and will provide leadership to the American public and the next U.S. President in the defense of the U.S. homeland from current and future ballistic missile threats.
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.