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American Forces Press Service

Budget Request Seeks Greater Missile Defense Capabilities

By Cheryl Pellerin DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, May 26, 2017 – The Missile Defense Agency's priority in the president's fiscal year 2018 budget request is to deliver greater missile defense capability for the warfighter and to invest in advanced technology and future capabilities, MDA's director of operations said here this week.

Briefing reporters at the Pentagon, Gary Pennett noted that the agency is requesting $7.9 billion in 2018 to continue to develop reliable, increasingly capable and state-of-the-art defenses against ballistic missile threats for the nation, deployed forces, allies and international partners.

"MDA remains committed to delivering, expanding and sustaining our nation's homeland missile defenses," Pennett said, "and requests $1.5 billion in [fiscal] 2018 for the ground-based midcourse defense program, or GMD." Thirty-six ground-based interceptors, or GBIs, are in place today, and the agency is on track to expand the fleet to 44 by the end of 2017, he added.

The 2018 budget request also would fund flight and system ground testing of homeland defenses, continue developing the redesigned kill vehicle, enhance the nuclear stockpile reliability program and expand the GBI battle space, Pennett said.

The operations director said the agency would continue to develop GMD ground-system hardware and software upgrades and fire-control and kill-vehicle software to improve discrimination capabilities -- the ability to differentiate between incoming missiles and decoys.

Regional Defense

Regional defense uses Aegis ballistic missile defense, the naval component of the Ballistic Missile Defense System. Aegis BMD builds on the existing Aegis weapon system, the standard missile and Navy control-and-communication systems. It targets short- to intermediate-range ballistic missile threats above the atmosphere using the Standard Missile-3, and targets short-range ballistic missiles inside the atmosphere with versions of SM-2 and SM-6. And an initiative called Aegis Ashore adapts Aegis weapon system capabilities to land locations.

Pennett said the 2018 request for Aegis BMD is $1.7 billion and that this includes sustaining the deployed SM-3 fleet.

MDA will buy 34 SM-3 Block IB missiles for deployment on land at the Aegis Ashore site in Romania and later in Poland, and at sea on Aegis BMD ships. This will bring the total number of SM-3 Block IB missiles to 287 by the end of 2018, he said.

THAAD and More

The Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, element gives the Ballistic Missile Defense System a globally transportable, rapidly deployable ability to intercept and destroy ballistic missiles inside or outside the atmosphere during their final, or terminal, phase of flight, keeping enemy weapons from reaching the ground. ]media:2:medium:right]

A THAAD battery consists of a truck-mounted launcher, eight interceptors per launcher, the world's largest air-transportable X-band radar, and fire control.

Pennett said the THAAD budget request is $797 million and that in 2018 MDA will support seven THAAD batteries.

"This budget procures 34 THAAD interceptors in [fiscal] 2017, bringing the total to 349 by the end of [fiscal] 2018," he added.

The budget request of $147 million in fiscal 2018 for Israeli programs continues MDA's longstanding support of U.S.-Israeli cooperative BMD programs, Pennett said, including procurement of the Iron Dome weapon system and the co-development of the David's Sling upper-tier interceptor and Arrow weapon system improvements.

Defeating Future Threats

MDA also is developing advanced BMD technology for integration into the Ballistic Missile Defense System fleet to defeat future threats, Pennett said. "The investment strategy for these technologies balances the need to address the most dangerous current threats with a need to position the U.S. to respond to threats developing in the future," he explained.

MDA is requesting $259 million for the multi-object kill vehicle, and has accelerated its risk-reduction and product-development phases to achieve a demonstrated capability in 2025, the operations director said.

For hypersonic defense, MDA requests $75 million, he added, noting that the fiscal 2017 National Defense Authorization Act directed that a program be established in 2018. "The fiscal '18 plan will begin a software modification to current BMDS assets and define requirements and architecture for future demonstrations," Pennett said.

A $54-million directed-energy request will let MDA continue developing and scaling a low-power laser demonstrator, he said, and a $52-million request for space efforts will fund space tracking and surveillance system, or STSS, satellite operations and sustainment.

"STSS consists of two satellites operating in low-earth orbit and provides risk-reduction data for a potential operational BMDS tracking and surveillance constellation," Pennett said. "This FY '18 request will also complete on-orbit deployment of the space-based kill assessment sensor network."

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