Missile Defense Project Newsletter - May 2016
May 31, 2016
In this issue:
- Missile Defense Agency – FY2017 Budget Overview
- Aegis Ashore Operationally Certified in Romania
- China Conducts Hypersonic Test
Missile Defense Agency - FY2017 Budget Overview
Over the past month, the four defense committees have produced their respective versions of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and the defense portion of the annual omnibus appropriation. The topline for MDA ranges across roughly a $650 million band: $8.4 billion authorized by the House Armed Services Committee (HASC); $8.1 billion by Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee (SAC-D); $7.8 billion by House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee (HAC-D); and $7.5 billion by the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC). The several bills include several other notable developments, such as tweaks for homeland missile defense, the now-standard plus-up for Israeli missile defense, and efforts to address the continuing squeeze on research and development.
Notably, the HASC employed a controversial method to overcome the Bipartisan Budget Act (BBA) caps, by allocating Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funds for missile defense R&D. While helping MDA's topline and prioritizing critical R&D, this approach runs the risk that these very R&D accounts will be cut in conference, as no other committee has taken a similar approach.
House Armed Services Committee
The House Armed Services Committee (HASC) NDAA mark was approve d by the full House on May 18, adding $895 million to the President’s Budget (PB) request for an MDA top line of $8.4 billion. Notably, the House additions are divided between the traditional base budget and OCO. The House authorized $65 million in the base budget for increasing BMD capability for Aegis ships. The bill also adds $15 million to accelerate the directed energy low-power laser demonstrator program to reclaim schedule slippage.
Another development is a significant plus-up for Israel cooperative programs, a total of $190 million for cooperative research and development, including $25 million for cooperative work on directed energy. The House also adds new lines to procure Arrow and David’s Sling, $120 million and $150 million respectively, as well as $20 million for Iron Dome procurement. In total, the HASC authorizes $626 million for programs for Israel, around 7.4% of the House MDA budget. Funds for interceptor procurement for Israel are subject to coproduction agreements, and the House attaches new conditions for David’s Sling and Arrow funding, including greater transparency for Israel’s requirements for numbers of interceptors and batteries and a stipulation of matching investment funds from Israel.
The HASC NDAA shifts several important missile defense investments into OCO, consistent with the committee's strategy to exceed BBA limits. This approach has received a veto threat from the White House , and the lack of a similar strategy in the Senate raises questions about these plus-ups survivability. The OCO gambit includes $300 million for missile defense-related research and development, including $65 million to modernize GMD ground system communications and upgrades for full Redesigned Kill Vehicle (RKV) capability; $25 million for risk reduction on the RKV; $50 million for modernized Ground-based Interceptor (GBI) boosters; and $55 million for Multiple Object Kill Vehicle (MOKV) technology maturation.
The House bill also includes provisions conditioning future efforts, mandating the creation of a program of record to defeat hypersonic and maneuverable ballistic missiles, and limiting PATRIOT funding until MDA and the Army demonstrate that its radar will be interoperable with other air and missile defense systems.
HASC’s reporting requirements include an especially interesting provision for a high level review of the “missile defeat” strategy, including cruise missile defense, declaratory, and the integration of right- and left-of-launch defenses. This provision, an apparent basis for a successor to the 2010 Ballistic Missile Defense Review, also requires the development of declaratory policy and concept of operations regarding left-of-launch. Other provisions include required research into a space-based missile defense layer, an annual report on the sufficiency of GMD modernization and the prospect for transportable GBIs, a reaffirmation of MDA as lead technical authority for integrated air and missile defense, the exploration of Aegis Ashore air defenses both at home and abroad (including with ESSM, SM-2, and SM-6 interceptors), and the stipulation that combatant commanders include requirements for ballistic missile defense in annual reports.
Senate Armed Services Committee
Completed on May 13, the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) NDAA added $250 million to MDA’s request, pushing the topline to $7.76 billion. The SASC markup hews closer to the PB request than its House counterpart, notably by not adding to Israel procurement. Its major additions include $50 million for MOKV and $55 million for Improved Homeland Defense Interceptors. The Improved Homeland Defense Interceptor addition includes $30 million in accelerated funding for the upgraded C3 booster and $25 million for RKV risk reduction.
Like the House, SASC prioritizes a review of left of launch capabilities and their role in integrated air and missile defense, as well as a requirement to begin research and development of a space-based missile defense layer. SASC also would require annual GMD testing.
A notable development in both the House and Senate NDAAs is modifications to the 1999 Missile Defense Act, which declared it U.S. policy “to deploy as soon as is technologically possible an effective National Missile Defense system capable of defending the territory of the United States against limited ballistic missile attack.” The Senate version simply strikes the word “limited” from the original bill. The House repeals and replaces the 1999 act, declaring it U.S. policy “to maintain and improve a robust layered missile defense system capable of defending the territory of the United States, allies, deployed forces, and capabilities against the developing and increasingly complex ballistic missile threat.”
House Appropriations Committee-Defense
On May 17, the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee (HAC-D) submitted its draft of the defense portion of the annual appropriation bill, including a $296 million increase for MDA over the PB request, for a $7.8 billion MDA top line.
HAC-D includes $601 million for Israeli missile defense programs, including all the procurement plus-ups of their authorization colleagues, representing $455 million over the PB request. HAC-D does not fully account for these cuts in MDA’s top line, however, and instead pays for half of the Israel plus up by cutting into other U.S. missile defense programs.
Advanced technology is hit particularly hard by the House appropriators. Classified research and development programs in weapons technology are reduced from $84 million in the PB to $12 million. Directed energy research also takes a $21 million cut.
Current systems also take haircuts, particularly improvements to homeland defense. The Improved Homeland Defense Interceptor line, which includes both the RKV and the new boosters for the GBI fleet, is reduced by $30 million, and MOKV by $15 million. While the base Ground-based Midcourse defense (GMD) research and development line is increased, it is $10 million smaller than the increase given by the House NDAA. HAC-D also reduces THAAD procurement by $39 million.
Senate Appropriations Committee-Defense
The Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee (SAC-D) concluded its markup after hearings ended on May 26, which included a $576 million increase from the PB for a top line of $8.1 billion. Like their HAC-D counterparts, this includes $601 million for Israel.
Major muscle movements by SAC-D focused on homeland defense. The committee created a new procurement line in long lead materials for RKV, and gave the GMD base R&D its largest increase of $110 million. SAC-D also cut Improved Homeland Defense Interceptors by $25 million, from both the new booster and RKV programs. SAC-D also zeroed out MOKV and suggested reallocating its $71.5 million into a reconstituted Common Kill Vehicle program.
Whereas House appropriators cut THAAD, SAC-D adds an additional $50 million apiece for Aegis and THAAD procurement. Like HAC-D, SAC-D also cuts classified MDA technology programs by $71 million.
Aegis Ashore Operationally Certified
On May 12, the United States declared the Aegis Ashore facility in Deveselu, Romania “operationally certified.” The facility is equipped with a SPY-1 radar and Standard Missile-3 Block 1B (SM-3 1B) interceptors, which are capable of engaging medium to intermediate-range ballistic missiles outside the atmosphere.
Russian President Vladimir Putin responded to the news of the site’s activation with threatening rhetoric during a May 27 press conference on his recent visit to Greece. Putin told reporters that the site was a “direct threat to Russia’s nuclear forces,” and that “if some areas in Romania did not know what it is like to be a target, today we will have to take action to ensure our security…the same will be done in regard to Poland.” Putin also suggested that the United States might one day secretly replace the SM-3 IB interceptors with long-range offensive missiles, saying that “nobody is going to notice anything, even the Romanians.”
The site represents Phase 2 of the three-phased European Phased Adaptive Approach. Phase 1 consisted of the permanent stationing of four Arleigh Burke-class Aegis BMD Destroyers to Rota, Spain. Phase 3 will include the construction by 2018 of a similar Aegis Ashore site in Poland. The Poland site will be equipped with the newer and longer SM-3 IIA interceptor, extending the system’s defensive coverage area to most of NATO territory in Europe.
On May 18, the Wall Street Journal reported that France is withholding its approval for NATO to officially take operational command of the Aegis Ashore site in Romania, citing technical and political concerns. The report notes that the United States hopes it can "persuade Paris to change [its position] before the alliance summit in July.”
China Conducts Hypersonic Test
Late this past April, China conducted yet another flight test of its DF-ZF ( formerly designated WU-14) hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV), the seventh such test since January 2014. According to Jane’s Defence Weekly, the DF-ZF took off from Wuzhai test range in Shanxi province on what is believed to be a DF-21 ballistic missile. The glide-vehicle flew for a few minutes before impacting in western China.
HGVs follow a different flight path than traditional ballistic missiles. After being lofted into the upper atmosphere, the HGV separates from its booster, goes into a steep dive, and gradually levels off to fly more or less parallel to the ground. This flight pattern is far less predictable than a ballistic trajectory, complicating missile defense efforts. Current ballistic missile defense systems rely in part on the ability to roughly predict the location of a reentry vehicle during its ballistic flight.
Currently, the United States has no program aimed at specifically countering HGVs. The House Armed Services Committee's version of the 2017 NDAA included a provision “directing the Missile Defense Agency to establish a program to counter hypersonic boost-glide and maneuvering ballistic missiles.” The U.S.–China and Security Review Commission has estimated that China could field a hypersonic glide-vehicle by 2020.