The Pentagon is considering adding a significant array of space-based tracking assets to improve missile defence capabilities following a recent wave of congressional support.
The Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) interceptor system is effective defending against a limited-sized raid of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) in the mid-course phase of flight, but its sensors can only detect threats once they are inbound, Michael Griffin, under-secretary of defence for research and engineering, said during an event at the US Senate.
GMD uses the US Air Force’s Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS) missile warning satellites to observe the flash of a boosting tactical missile or ICBM. It then cues terrestrial phased array radar to monitor and report on the flight path.
Lieutenant General Samuel Greaves, director of the Missile Defense Agency (MDA), said additional capability and capacity is needed for GMD to “stay in advance of the threat”.