“The Congress shall have Power to lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts, and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts, and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States.” Article 1 Section 8 Clause 1 of the United States Constitution.
Last week, in its version of the annual Defense Appropriations bill, the Senate Appropriations Committee provided an additional $1.1 billion for the Missile Defense Agency (MDA), a 12-percent increase from President Trump’s original request for the 2021 budget. If enacted into law, these additional funds would increase missile defense funding to its highest point since it began in 1985. This is an unusual step for the Republican-controlled Senate to provide such a significant boost to the funds requested by a Republican President, but it highlights what significant priority ballistic missile defense is in order to make the nation safer.
MDAA applauds the members of the Senate Appropriations Committee for taking seriously the role of Congress, as a co-equal branch of government to “provide for the common defense” of the nation, and protect the American people against growing missile threats. The Senate Appropriations Committee is currently in conference with the House Appropriations Committee to produce a final bill and, if approved by the President, MDA’s potential budget of $10.23 billion would be the biggest in the agency’s history. The budget in the Senate Appropriations bill would allocate full funding for the Next Generation Interceptor (NGI), with the majority of these new funds slated towards making the current Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system more reliable until the NGI gets deployed in 2028.
In the explanatory statement of their bill, the Senate Appropriators stated, “The Committee is concerned by the apparent disconnect among the 2017 National Security Strategy, the 2018 National Defense Strategy, the 2020 Missile Defense Review (which defines missile defense as ‘an essential component of U.S. national security and defense strategies’), and the fiscal year 2021 President’s budget request for MDA. In particular, ongoing acquisition programs that were identified as high priority within MDA’s architecture as recently as one year ago, such as the development of a space sensor for the tracking of hypersonic threats and ballistic weapons, as well as the procurement of a radar for the defense of Hawaii, have been removed from MDA’s budget, or underwent significant funding reductions.”
With the resounding success and historic achievement of an ICBM intercept this week by an SM3 Block IIA interceptor fired by the USS John Finn and this record mark for missile defense, the Senate Appropriations Committee’s simultaneous decision to not increase funding for the underlay is peculiar. Given its recent testing success, the Committee’s lack of support for procuring the SM3 Block IIA missiles should be re-examined in conference. Additionally, the lack of commitment to funding the Pacific Deterrence Initiative (PDI) is inconsistent with the growing missile threat and the critical importance of the Indo-Pacific region to America’s security. There are numerous ballistic missile defense, forward posture, and warfighting initiatives within the PDI that are key to deterring and if necessary defeating China in the Western Pacific. The lack of support for PDI is in stark contrast to the appropriations funding the European Deterrence Initiative over the past six years.
The Aegis SM3 Block IIA platform is a force multiplier in both depth, capability and is among the most important Allied integration and burden sharing efforts for the Indo Pacific region. Starting with our strongest ally, Japan who has co-produced, co-developed, and co-deployed with the United States on Aegis SM3 Block IIA platform and interceptor, the Indo Pacific region is more stable and offers more deterrence. Australia and South Korea also have Aegis-equipped ships and see the value of this capability and partnership with the United States for a stable Indo-Pacific Region. The Aegis SM3 Block IIA ICBM Interceptor can defeat lofted launches thereby providing defense for Japan against North Korean ICBMs from either ground-launched or sea-launched from submarines. The Aegis SM3 Block IIA interceptor would also have the ability to defeat lofted launches of ICBMs against Guam and Hawaii which are critical for the United States and its National Security Interests in the Indo-Pacific Region.
As proven on Tuesday the underlayer is real, with the ICBM Intercept using the MDIOC and C2BMC in Colorado Springs which is the integrator to bring sensors and shooters together under command for the Ballistic Missile Defense of the United States Homeland. The SM3 Block IIA missiles have existing land- and sea-based platforms that can be deployed immediately, with a current inventory of nine U.S. ships, as well as an Aegis Ashore site in Hawaii to best defend the U.S. Territory of Guam and the United States.
The current President’s budget and Senate Appropriations Mark were finalized prior to the ICBM intercept on Tuesday and allows for only a minimal buy of six SM3 Block IIAs in this year’s budget, three interceptors in each of the FY2022 and FY2023 budgets. Then leaping to 51 in FY2024, and 50 interceptors in FY2025. These limited numbers of interceptors are intended to provide Foreign Military Sales to Japan, deploy promised Aegis Ashore sites in Europe, and to continue to be used for testing. In addition, MDA made an unfunded request for ten additional interceptors which the Senate Appropriators did not include in their version of the Defense Appropriations bill.
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.