Experts Testify on DOD Missile Defense System

WASHINGTON, March 8, 2012 — Tech­ni­cal chal­lenges remain for the com­plex bal­lis­tic mis­sile defense sys­tem designed to pro­tect the Unit­ed States and its allies, but the capa­bil­i­ty is cru­cial to the nation’s defense pos­ture, experts told a con­gres­sion­al pan­el this week.

Bradley H. Roberts, deputy assis­tant sec­re­tary of defense for nuclear and mis­sile defense pol­i­cy, Army Lt. Gen. Patrick O’Reil­ly, direc­tor of the Defense Department’s Mis­sile Defense Agency, and oth­er experts tes­ti­fied March 6 before the House Armed Ser­vices Committee’s sub­com­mit­tee on strate­gic forces.

Since 1999, the Unit­ed States has invest­ed more than $90 bil­lion in mis­sile defense. The fis­cal 2013 bud­get request for mis­sile defense is $7.75 bil­lion.

Roberts said the mis­sile defense strat­e­gy bal­ances the need to defend the home­land with the need to address region­al threats over­seas to U.S. forces, allies and part­ners, and he described the plan to bol­ster both.

“We live in an era of mis­sile pro­lif­er­a­tion, we project pow­er for­ward glob­al­ly, [and] we have secu­ri­ty com­mit­ments in regions where mis­siles are pro­lif­er­at­ing,” he told the pan­el. “We must pro­tect our forces, we must pro­tect our allies, [and] they must par­tic­i­pate in pro­tect­ing them­selves. To not do that calls into ques­tion the very foun­da­tion of our secu­ri­ty role in the inter­na­tion­al envi­ron­ment today.”

New capa­bil­i­ties have emerged over the past 10 to 15 years that now are avail­able to bol­ster region­al mis­sile defense, Roberts said. “So we’ve put in place a pro­gram to ramp up these region­al defense capa­bil­i­ties over the years ahead … in part­ner­ship with allies,” he added. “They are not along for a free ride. We’ve giv­en them many oppor­tu­ni­ties to strength­en their own self-defense, and many are ris­ing to this chal­lenge.”

The Unit­ed States has mis­sile defense coop­er­a­tive pro­grams with the Unit­ed King­dom, Japan, Aus­tralia, Israel, Den­mark, Ger­many, the Nether­lands, the Czech Repub­lic, Poland, Italy and many oth­er nations.

Roberts said the two-stage plan for bol­ster­ing home­land defense includes strength­en­ing the ground-based mid­course defense sys­tem, or GDM, and in the next decade, shift­ing to a land-based stan­dard mis­sile called SM‑3 Block 2B as a com­ple­men­tary sec­ond lay­er of the sys­tem. GDM is an ele­ment of the bal­lis­tic mis­sile defense sys­tem made up of ground-based inter­cep­tors and ground sys­tems com­po­nents.

Defense strat­e­gy calls for ground-based inter­cep­tors to be enhanced over the next 10 years, Roberts said. When SM‑3 2B mis­siles become avail­able around 2020, he told the pan­el, those will be added to the sys­tem to pro­vide a sec­ond lay­er of pro­tec­tion on the ground in the Unit­ed States.

“For region­al defense, we now have two lay­ers of pro­tec­tion,” he added. “The home­land deserves the same. Depth and redun­dan­cy are bet­ter than reliance on a sin­gle sys­tem.”

Such ground- and sea-based inter­cep­tor mis­siles destroy an incom­ing mis­sile using a direct col­li­sion, called “hit-to-kill” tech­nol­o­gy, or an explo­sive-blast-frag­men­ta­tion war­head.

O’Reil­ly told the pan­el that the Mis­sile Defense Agency’s top pri­or­i­ty is to pro­tect the home­land from the grow­ing threat of inter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­sile attacks from Iran, North Korea, Syr­ia and oth­er nations.

“We have made sig­nif­i­cant progress in enhanc­ing our cur­rent home­land defense over the past year,” he added. Progress includes acti­vat­ing a for­ward-based trans­portable radar in Turkey and an upgrad­ed ear­ly warn­ing radar at Thule, Green­land, to track inter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­siles from the Mid­dle East.

The agency has also upgrad­ed three ground-based inter­cep­tors, or GBIs, acti­vat­ed a sec­ond com­mand-and-con­trol node — part of the com­mand, con­trol, bat­tle man­age­ment and com­mu­ni­ca­tions net­work that links the warfight­er to sen­sors and inter­cep­tor mis­siles — and com­plet­ed the newest mis­sile field at Fort Greely, Alas­ka.

“Fur­ther enhance­ment of our home­land defense is paced by the res­o­lu­tion of a tech­ni­cal issue iden­ti­fied in the last GBI flight test and the need for a suc­cess­ful inter­cept with the newest ver­sion of the GBI exo-atmos­pher­ic kill vehi­cle by the end of this year,” O’Reil­ly said.

A suc­cess­ful non­in­ter­cept GBI flight test this sum­mer, he added, will con­firm that the prob­lem is resolved.

This year, O’Reil­ly told the pan­el, bal­lis­tic mis­sile defense capa­bil­i­ty will be built into five more Aegis ships, three SM‑3 Block 1B flight tests will demon­strate res­o­lu­tion of the pre­vi­ous test-flight fail­ure, and materiel release is planned for a sec­ond ter­mi­nal high-alti­tude area defense, or THAAD, bat­tery for area defense, space-based sen­sors and sea-based capa­bil­i­ties.

The agency’s 2013 bud­get will deliv­er a third THAAD bat­tery and three more Aegis bal­lis­tic mis­sile defense upgrades, for a total of 32 BMD-capa­ble ships, he said.

“This year and in 2013,” the gen­er­al said, “we will con­duct the largest, most com­plex, inte­grat­ed lay­ered region­al mis­sile defense tests in his­to­ry by simul­ta­ne­ous­ly engag­ing up to five crews and bal­lis­tic mis­sile tar­gets with Aegis, THAAD and Patri­ot inter­cep­tor sys­tems, a for­ward-based [trans­portable] radar, and a com­mand-and-con­trol sys­tem oper­at­ed by sol­diers, sailors and air­men from mul­ti­ple com­bat­ant com­mands.”

An impor­tant part of the bal­lis­tic mis­sile defense sys­tem that’s under devel­op­ment is the Pre­ci­sion Track­ing Space Sys­tem, or PTSS, a space-based con­stel­la­tion of satel­lites that will for the first time be able to track a mis­sile over its entire flight.

“There is no sen­sor that can fill the func­tion of track­ing a mis­sile over its entire flight from space and the broad field of views that we need to cov­er an entire the­ater, where we could see mis­siles simul­ta­ne­ous­ly launched,” O’Reil­ly said.

“The com­bi­na­tion of [ground-based mid­course defense], SM‑3 2B, PTSS and oth­er pro­grams,” the gen­er­al said, “will pro­vide effec­tive and adapt­able mis­sile defense for our home­land to counter the uncer­tain­ty of ICBM capa­bil­i­ty from today’s region­al threats for decades into the future.”

Source:
U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

Team GlobDef

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist GlobalDefence.net im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. GlobalDefenc.net war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →