Earlier this year, the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency determined that a planned upgrade to the nation’s defense against long-range North Korean missiles wasn’t going to work. A seeker essential to homing in on hostile nuclear warheads wasn’t suitable for operations in space, where the current U.S. homeland defense is designed to intercept attackers.
The upgrade program was canceled in August, and within weeks a draft solicitation for a Next Generation Interceptor was issued to industry. The solicitation described a much more capable system for negating North Korean attacks, specifying nearly 50 threat scenarios in which the new system would need to work effectively. Some of the scenarios involved demanding challenges that are not within the operational “envelope” of the existing defensive network.