In the escalating proliferation of North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear weapon development, our Nation is developing a more reliable and more lethal missile defense systems to defend all 50 states from North Korea, from Iran, and from all future nations that would use missiles (ballistic, hypersonic, maneuverable, multiple warhead, and cruise) to threaten the United States of America. But this will take time- over four to five years to develop, test and deploy. In five years there will be 64 Ground Based Interceptors with new modernized kill vehicles deployed in 20 addition silos in Alaska by 2023. In two years there will be a new Long-Range Discrimination Radar (LRDR) in Alaska by 2020. There could be a Medium-Range Discrimination Radar in Hawaii by 2023. Testing for these new ICBM interceptors, the Redesigned Kill Vehicle (RKV), begins next year and construction has begun for the LRDR at Clear AFB, Alaska while there is currently environment and site survey studies for a new radar site in Hawaii.
In the meantime, and during a span of four to five years, our nation is relying on the current 44 Ground Based Interceptors (GBIs) with 40 of them in Alaska and four in California, made up of a mixture of three generations of interceptors. There is the first and oldest generation of interceptors, the Capability Enhancement-1 (CE-1s), that are not as reliable as the second generations of interceptors, the CE-2, that are not as reliable as our best group of interceptors, the CE-2 Block 1 which have extremely high reliability with a proven ICBM intercept. To further increase the reliability of the 44 GBIs, there is a shot doctrine to fire multiple interceptors in a look shoot, look shoot shot doctrine for each incoming ICBM. The reliability of these interceptors is further increased if the Sea-Based X-Band radar (SBX) is deployed in the Pacific, providing additional discrimination and targeting data to the ICBM interceptors in Alaska and California before they are launched and during their flights. All of these ICBM interceptors have their own discriminating sensors and can intercept without the SBX, using the cues from the two forward based sensors of the Army Navy/Transportable Radar Surveillance (AN/TPY-2s) in Japan.
The most challenging issue for the ICBM Interceptors is the exact targeting of the correct re-entry vehicle (RV) that carries the nuclear weapon, which must be discriminated from debris and penetration aides like countermeasures, decoys, and eventually maneuverable and/or multiple warheads carried on one ICBM – which North Korea does not have yet. The discrimination of this ICBM debris field begins on the final separation from the third stage burnout, around 300 seconds after launch. The debris field starts at around three meters and then spreads to several miles, all objects traveling at ICBM speeds over those 30 plus minutes before the field of debris begins reentry into the atmosphere where most of it, including the penetration aides, burn up as seen in recent North Korean tests.
The ideal discrimination sensor for the ICBM interceptors would be a persistent deployment of sensors, that would track and discriminate without any gap of coverage from the separation – around 300 seconds after launch – to the atmosphere reentry point. The curvature of the Earth’s surface forces there to be multiple land- and sea-based sensors and the massive body of water of the Pacific Ocean presents gaps of coverage with today’s sensors against the North Korean Missile threat. Having these big land-based discrimination sensors in Alaska, in Hawaii, and in Japan would eliminate the current gaps of coverage along the ballistic flight path of the North Korean ICBM to the 50 states of the United States of America. One of the future and most promising technologies to beat this challenge and greatly enhance the terrestrial sensors is space-based discrimination sensors in a multiple satellite low earth orbit constellation.
Another way to solve the discrimination challenge, is to have the ICBM interceptors communicate with each other in a look shoot look shoot doctrine, with the first interceptor sending its discrimination picture to the second ICBM interceptor following it to adjust if necessary. The United States is putting forward a salvo ICBM interceptor test scheduled later this year against a single incoming ICBM to prove this concept out.
Reducing the amount of ICBM interceptors needed to successfully intercept one incoming ICBM and to become more efficient in the shot doctrine is the fastest way today to increase the capacity of the limited 44 ICBM interceptor inventory until the new RKV ICBM interceptor comes on line. The only other ICBM interceptor capability that can increase more capacity today and over the next four to five years, above the 44 ICBM interceptors, to better protect the nation, specifically the State of Hawaii, the U.S. Territory of Guam, and enhance the ICBM defense of the West Coast of the United States is the new Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IIA interceptor. The SM-3 Block IIA interceptor has an inherent capability to intercept ICBM and is currently in low rate production. This sea-based (Aegis BMD Baseline-9 ships) and land-based (Aegis Ashore) platform with this new SM-3 Block IIA interceptor is scheduled early this year for an intercept test against an intermediate range missile from the Aegis Ashore platform at the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) Kauai, Hawaii. Proving out the previous Administration’s Ballistic Missile Defense Review (BMDR) requirement of the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) phase 3 and deploying this year the limited number of these new interceptors to the Aegis Ashore site in Poland to defend the majority of the population of Europe against an Iranian ballistic missile.
In the real-life panic of 1.4 million Americans in Hawaii, caused by a false alarm of an incoming ballistic missile attack from the State of Hawaii emergency broadcast system last Saturday, there has to be absolute confidence that the United States Government will defeat any and all incoming ballistic missile threats to Hawaii. The United States Government, as by its constitution must do all it can do to bring safety to defeat ballistic missiles from North Korea and fully defend the citizens of Hawaii and all of the states and territories of the United States of America.
Stay Calm and Defend On.
We need more ICBM Missile Defense Capacity over the next four to five years.