WASHINGTON — The Missile Defense Agency’s $9.6 billion fiscal 2023 request seeks to expand regional and homeland defenses against increasingly complex and capable missile threats, according to budget documents released by the agency March 28.
The MDA asked for $8.9 billion in FY22, but received an additional $1.5 billion from Congress for a total of $10.4 billion. Congress has boosted the MDA two years in a row, arguing there’s a disconnect between the agency’s requests and its ability to meet the requirements of the National Defense Strategy.
The FY23 request comes ahead of the release of a new NDS from the Biden Administration that will include a review of needed missile defense capabilities.
“What we’re focused on today is dealing with a very formidable and evolving threat and so every penny that we’re spending in the ‘23 budget is focused on how we deal with those threats across a multiple set of interesting scenarios,” Vice Adm. Jon Hill, MDA’s director, said at a March 28 Pentagon briefing.
The budget includes $7.9 billion in research and development funding, up 9.7% boost from FY22 enacted spending. The research and development funding accounts for 82% of the FY23 budget request, according to Dee Dee Martinez, MDA’s comptroller.
The MDA is requesting $1.2 billion in procurement funding, 55% less than Congress enacted in FY22.
And MDA asked for $47 million for military construction projects, up from the FY22 enacted level of $23 million. The increased budget for MILCON would pay for establishing a missile defense architecture on Guam as well as improvements to ground test facility infrastructure, Martinez said.
Detect and control
Programs that detect and track missiles from space, including the Hypersonic & Ballistic Tracking Space Sensor (HBTSS) and the Space-based Kill Assessment (SKA), would get $130 million if the FY23 request advances.
A total of $89 million in funding would pay for delivery of space vehicles for launch vehicle integration and complete development of the ground system for the second quarter FY23 launch of two prototypes and on-orbit experimentations of the HBTSS.
MDA began the HBTSS program in 2018 and in early 2021 L3Harris Technologies and Northrop Grumman were each awarded $277 million contracts to develop prototypes.
The agency is also seeking $27 million to continue integrating SKA hit assessment integration into the overall missile defense system. An on-orbit checkout was completed in 2019, Martinez said, and the system successfully performed during several recent MDA flight tests focused on its hit assessment capability.
The MDA said it needs $540 million to upgrade and sustain 12 AN/TPY-2 radars while also completing the FY21 computer processing unit procurement for a 13th radar. These radars are used both in Terminal High Altitude Area Defense systems and independently.
The agency is asking for $75 million for the Long-Range Discrimination Radar. The LRDR reached the initial fielding milestone at Clear Space Force Station, Alaska, in December 2021. The radar is meant to provide deeper threat discrimination capability for homeland defense.
The agency is seeking $165 million for the Sea-Based X-band radar to cover continued operations and radome replacement and wants $20 million to refurbish and extend the life of the Cobra Dane radar.
The MDA also wants $569 million to fund its critical Command and Control Battle Management and Communications (C2BMC) system, which links missile defense systems worldwide. In addition to sustainment and upgrades, the funding would cover integrating LRDR into the network for homeland defense, which has been delayed to FY23 due to COVID-19 issues.
MDA told Defense News that like in previous budget years, it has not provided funding for the Homeland Defense Radar- Hawaii. Congress provided the agency $75 million in FY22 to procure and deploy such a capability.
Congress mandated in its FY22 omnibus spending package that the agency, the INDOPACOM commander and the director of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (CAPE) to provide the congressional defense committees with its submission of the FY23 request an updated briefing on current and evolving threats, the capability that HDR-H would bring against those threats and other realistic solutions to defend the region from ballistic missile threats.
The MDA’s effort to operationalize the Aegis Ashore system in Poland is ongoing, but the agency has made progress after what has amounted to a four-year delay, according to Hill.
The agency is requesting $539 million to continue to design and develop multiple-land based radar systems, procure weapon system components and initiate military construction planning and design activities for the defense of Guam, the budget documents state.
“Current forces are capable of defending Guam against today’s North Korean ballistic missile threats,” Martinez said. “However, the regional threat to Guam, including from China, continues to rapidly evolve.”
In FY22, the agency, at the request of U.S Indo-Pacific Command, asked for $78.3 million to look at systems to support Guam and another $40 million to procure long-lead items.
The idea was the agency would have a clearer sense of how to defend Guam against missile threats by FY23 and would ask for more money to cover implementation of an architecture, according to last year’s budget briefing.
Congress provided an additional $80 million to accelerate the Guam architecture in the FY22 budget.
“The architecture has now been finalized and includes a combination of integrated MDA, Army and Navy components,” Martinez said. “The FY23 funding “continues the architecture work but also provides funds for design and development of multiple land-based radar systems, procurement of weapon system components and initiates MILCON planning and design activities.”
The agency is also asking for $2.8 billion to continue to sustain and upgrade its Ground-Based Midcourse Defense System, designed to protect the nation from intercontinental ballistic missile threats from North Korea and Iran.
“The request sustains and improves the performance reliability, availability and cybersecurity resiliency of the GMD weapon system throughout the [Future Years Defense Program],” Martinez said.
The funding would cover “upgrades to homeland defense system capabilities, including ground based interceptors, ground systems, and phased array, Ground-Based Interceptor communication terminal kits and improves components of the agency’s GMD system, including GBI fire control nodes, communication systems, launch systems, and infrastructure to pace rogue nation threats to the homeland,” she added.
The budget would also pay for a Next-Generation Interceptor to ultimately replace GBIs. The MDA has selected two competitors — Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman – to design NGIs, and the budget would pay to move both competitors through a critical design review.
The Aegis Missile Defense system would get $1.6 billion to cover 47 SM-3 Block IB and 10 Block IIA missiles, upgrading Aegis ship sensors with the new SPY-6 radar and providing other upgrades on the Navy’s newest destroyers, the documents show.
In FY22, Congress approved an additional $192 million for SM-3 Block IIA missile procurement.
The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System needs $422 million, according to the budget documents, to continue software development for the seven deployed systems and extend interceptor service life.
The FY23 funding would also buy three more THAAD interceptors.
Tech development and testing
The agency plans to spend $39 million in advanced research and advanced concepts development and another $563 million in systems engineering to link missile defense elements into one integrated and layered architecture.
MDA is asking for $361 million for missile defense system testing. This includes funding to maintain test infrastructure as well as conduct several tests such as a GMD test and a THAAD and Patriot MSE interoperability test.
Another $560 million would go toward developing and producing threat representative targets.
The agency wants $225 million for hypersonic defense efforts to include its Glide Phase Interceptor development to address regional hypersonic missile threats, upgrade existing systems for future demonstrations and continue development of technologies and solutions for future hypersonic defense architectures.
The MDA is evaluating GPI proposals, Hill said, ahead of a formal development effort.
MDA asked for $247.9 million in FY22 to develop the capability, which would examine an operational demonstration of the glide phase defense capability using the Aegis weapon system.
The agency is also planning to spend $11 million to work on the system architecture for cruise missile defense of the homeland, including a fire control demonstration using the Joint Tactical Integrated Fire Control system.
The agency asked for $14 million in FY22 to work on cruise missile defense of the homeland.
“I would say the trade space is still within the department on how fast we’re going to move against what defended assets and what critical assets. So there’s a lot of homework to be done,” Hill said of homeland cruise missile defense. “Our job is to lay down the technical architecture options and work that within the department to see what we can do.”
Jen Judson is an award-winning journalist covering land warfare for Defense News. She has also worked for Politico and Inside Defense. She holds a Master of Science degree in journalism from Boston University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Kenyon College.