WASHINGTON — House and Senate lawmakers have authorized an injection of about $51 million in funding to cyber-harden missile defense systems, according to the fiscal 2019 National Defense Authorization Act conference report, and appropriators are expected to follow suit in the defense spending bill with roughly $100 million in additional funding.
Congressional authorizers noted in a summary of the NDAA conference report, released July 23, that the conferees were supporting an increase in funding to address cyberthreats to U.S. missile defense systems.
The U.S. military and its allies are reliant on missile defense systems both regionally and to defend the homeland. Such a capability will require a more robust level of protection against cyberattacks as adversaries grow in their ability to take down systems through jamming and other electronic warfare capabilities.
The strategy to disarm enemy systems using jamming and electronic attack already plays a major role in war gaming against possible peer adversaries in the future. Using cyber and electronic attack is seen, at times, as the first line of offense to take down enemy air defense systems, so as to allow the injection of friendly forces into denied territory.
And since that’s part of the strategy to penetrate enemy systems, it will be and already is a part of the adversaries’ strategies, too.
While House authorizers initially planned to provide roughly $100 million to cyber-harden missile defense systems. The final version of the NDAA to come out of conference committee only authorizes about half of that, cutting House plans to fund $45 million to address cyberthreats to the ballistic missile defense terminal defense segment of the BMD framework.
But the lawmakers in charge of the purse strings want to spend twice as much as the NDAA would authorize, according to both the House and Senate FY19 spending bills.
House and Senate appropriators’ funding lines for cyber-hardening missile defense systems are essentially identical, so it’s likely the funding will withstand conference committee and come out in the final bill.
According to the Senate appropriations bill report, the committee is adding $100 million in funding to “advance the [Missile Defense Agency’s] compliance with the Department of Defense Cybersecurity Discipline Implementation Plan to protect MDA systems in highly-contested cybersecurity threat environments.”
Within that $100 million, House and Senate appropriators want $40 million in funds to increase cybersecurity for ballistic missile-enabling programs and another $16.2 for a cyber assessment of those programs.
Similar to the FY19 NDAA funding, appropriators plan to provide an additional $10 million for cybersecurity efforts for the ballistic missile defense system’s midcourse defense segment, which defends the homeland from possible attacks from North Korea and Iran.
Another $5 million would help cyber-harden missile defense sensors, while $10 million would fund cybersecurity measures within the brains of the entire ballistic missile defense system — the BMD’s Command and Control, Battle Management, and Communications system.
An additional $20 million would fund cybersecurity efforts related to BMD testing, and another $5 million would go toward cyber-hardening BMD targets.
Appropriators would also fund $5 million to work cybersecurity elements into ongoing BMD technology maturation initiatives, and another $5 million would attempt to secure BMD elements in space from cyberattack.
Jen Judson is the land warfare reporter for Defense News. She has covered defense in the Washington area for 10 years. She was previously a reporter at Politico and Inside Defense. She won the National Press Club's best analytical reporting award in 2014 and was named the Defense Media Awards' best young defense journalist in 2018.