Missile Defense Budgets and Programs
U.S. policy calls for a layered missile defense. Layering missile defense means providing political and military commanders with credible options to detect, track, and destroy missiles in all stages of flight. Firing multiple interceptors increases the probability of successful interception and lessens the pressure on one system to perform flawlessly.
Attacking missiles are most vulnerable in the boost phase - three to four minutes after launch. In boost, missiles fly slowly, produce easily detectable exhaust plumes, and generally do not deploy countermeasures to confuse interceptor missiles. Despite boost phase defense's importance to a layered system, the U.S. has not fielded an operational capability. These most recent initiatives include the Airborne Laser (ABL), Kinetic Energy Interceptor (KEI), Network Centric Airborne Defense Element (NCADE), and Air Launched Hit-to-Kill (ALHTK) system. The Obama Administration plans to shift the focus from boost phase interception to ascent phase - the transition between boost and midcourse. If upheld by Congress, this decision will lead to the cancellation of KEI and curtail deployment of ABL. Over the past two decades, no Administration or Congress has been willing to consider deployment of the most effective boost option - space-based interceptors.
During midcourse flight, ballistic missiles follow an inverted U-trajectory. The Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) element aims to shoot down long-range missiles in midcourse phase. In 2004, President Bush ordered the deployment of ground-based interceptors (GBI) in Alaska and California. The Obama Administration plans to cap the number of GBIs at 30, believing that number is sufficient to address the threat from North Korea. Previous plans called for 44 interceptors. A controversial effort hopes to extend GMD capabilities to 'Third Site' locations in Poland, the Czech Republic, Greenland, and the United Kingdom. The Obama Administration, however, has signaled it might cancel plans to station interceptors in Poland and radar in the Czech Republic due to Russian opposition.
Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense ships destroys short-range missiles in the ascent phase ? the beginning and end of midcourse flight - using advanced radar capabilities and Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) interceptors. The U.S. Navy boasts 18 Aegis BMD combatants with plans to add two more cruisers and one destroyer to its Atlantic Fleet ships by 2010. The Aegis system's powerful radar tracks ballistic missiles of all ranges, allowing it to support other elements of the layered defense system. Aegis' successful test record combined with bipartisan congressional support and the Obama Administration?s shift toward ascent phase has led to large proposed funding increases for the program. The Administration?s FY 2010 budget requests $1.86 billion for Aegis BMD, which represents a large increase over FY 2009's $1.17 billion appropriations.
The U.S. missile defense architecture requires terminal defense systems - intercepting as missiles descend upon the target. The Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) land-based surface-to-air, hit-to-kill interceptor is the most mature and battle-tested system in the U.S. arsenal. PAC-3s are able to protect an area seven times greater than the original Patriot system used in the first Gulf War. Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) is a land-based, truck-mounted system providing extended coverage over the PAC-3. THAAD interceptors are shoot down short and medium range ballistic missiles at altitudes up to 150 kilometers - 20 times higher than PAC-3. The Obama Administration and Congress have emphasized terminal defenses in their budgets, calling for increased funding to purchase more THAADs. The Administration requested the THAAD budget increase to around $1.12 billion from $882.4 million in FY 2009.
The U.S. is working with allies to produce other terminal systems including further developing the Arrow system with Israel and the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) with Germany and Italy. MEADS is designed to replace aging Patriot and Nike Hercules interceptors in Germany and Italy, respectively.
Missile Defense Budgets and Programs
- "Contributions of Sensors to an Effective Missile Defense," October 12, 2011
- "Drone on - Again, But Explain the US Citizen Part," Mr. Daniel Gallington, October 3, 2011
- "Drone On," Mr. Daniel Gallington, September 26, 2011
- "Ballistic Missile Defense Overview," Lieutenant General Patrick J. O'Reilly, September 10, 2009
- "Update on Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense and the Navy Air and Missile Defense Center," Rear Admiral Alan B. Hicks, August 3, 2009
- "Airborne Laser Approaches Pivotal Test," James Mazol and Jeff Kueter, August 1, 2009
- "Boost-Phase Missile Defense: Present Challenges, Future Prospects," Dr. Robert Pfaltzgraff, Daniel Gouré, Peter Huessy, Dr. Greg Hyslop and Glenn Haskins, April 3, 2009
- "Testing Missile Defense Systems," Jeff Kueter, February 1, 2009
- "A Post-Mortem on the FY 2009 Missile Defense Budget: Issues and Background," December 22, 2008
- "Airborne Laser (ABL): Assessing Recent Developments and Plans for the Future," Col. Robert McMurry and Lt. General Michael Dunn (ret.), June 27, 2008
- "USA Today's Editorial on Weapons in Space and the Marshall Institute Response," Jeff Kueter, February 21, 2008
- "Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System Status and Upgrades," Rear Admiral Alan B. Hicks, November 28, 2007
- "Aegis Missile Defense: A Proven Capability," Howard Kleinberg and Jeff Kueter, November 1, 2007
- "The Importance of Boost Phase Missile Defense," Jeff Kueter, August 1, 2007
- "Missile Defense in the Fiscal Year 2008 Budget Request - Issues and Background," February 1, 2007
- "Current Status and Future Developments for U.S. Missile Defense," Lieutenant General Patrick J. O'Reilly, January 29, 2007
- "New AEGIS BMD Test Abort Likely Due to 'Pilot Error'," December 8, 2006
- "Missile Defense in the FY 2007 Budget Request," Jeff Kueter and Howard Kleinberg, March 1, 2006
- "Review and Assessment of the Airborne Laser Missile Defense System," Gen. Lester Lyles (ret.) and Col. John Daniels, January 26, 2006
- "Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System," Rear Admiral Alan B. Hicks, December 19, 2005
- "Advanced Concepts in Missile Defense," Gary Payton, September 12, 2005
- "A Failed Test of Missile Defense," Jeff Kueter and Andrew Plieninger, The New York Times, December 16, 2004
- "Estimates of Performance and Cost for Boost Phase Intercept," Dr. Gregory Canavan, September 24, 2004
- "FY 2005 Missile Defense Budget Priorities," Jeff Kueter, May 1, 2004
- "Boost Phase Missile Defense," Dr. Gregory Canavan, September 3, 2003
- "FY 2004 Budget Request Will Accelerate Development of Ballistic Missile Defense System," February 3, 2003
- "Setback Will Not Derail Momentum in Ballistic Missile Defense System," December 11, 2002
- "Update on Missile Defense Technology," Dr. Gregory Canavan, May 22, 2002