WASHINGTON — Congress wants the Missile Defense Agency to get a radar installed in Hawaii that can protect the homeland from ballistic missiles by the end of 2028, according to the fiscal 2022 National Defense Authorization Act released this week.
The House passed the legislation earlier this week and the Senate is expected to take it up for a vote next week.
Lawmakers want the agency to include in its FY23 budget request and subsequent future-years defense program funding that is adequate to develop, construct, test and integrate the missile defense radar for homeland defense in Hawaii, according to the provision.
MDA must declare the Hawaiian radar and its associated in-flight interceptor communications system data terminal operational “not later than December 31, 2028,” it states.
While the agency included no funding in its FY22 budget request for the radar, traction for the capability has grown on Capitol Hill among both authorizers and appropriators.
Senate appropriators, in their version of the FY22 defense spending bill, recommended an additional $41 million for the Homeland Defense Radar-Hawaii, or HDR-H.
The committee would also require the MDA director, along with the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command commander, to deliver updated unclassified- and classified-level briefs to congressional defense committees on the current and evolving threats and capability of HDR-H to go up against those threats by the end of January 2022, according to language in the bill.
House appropriators would provide $75 million in funding for a HDR-H.
Previous MDA budget requests in FY19 and FY20 asked for funding for the discriminating radar as well as another somewhere else in the Pacific. The plan in FY19 was to field the HDR-H, by FY23, which meant military construction would have taken place beginning in FY21. Then in FY20, MDA requested $247.7 million for the radar. Lockheed Martin received an award to develop the radar in December 2018.
But in FY21, funding for both the Hawaiian radar and the Pacific radar was missing in the request. MDA Director Vice Adm. Jon Hill said in February, when the request was released, that the agency decided to hit the brakes on its plans to set up the radars in the Pacific, instead planning to take a new look at the sensor architecture in the INDOPACOM region to figure out what is necessary to handle emerging threats.
Hill has noted that the area is covered by a forward-deployed AN/TPY-2 radar in Hawaii as well as the deployable Sea-Based X-Band radar. Additionally, Aegis ships with their radars are mobile and can be repositioned as needed to address threats in the near term, he added.
INDOPACOM’s commander placed the HDR-H fourth on his unfunded requirements “wish list” sent to the Hill earlier this year following the release of the FY22 budget request.
The commander wants $41 million in research-and-development funding as well as $19 million in military construction money to support an initial operational capability by FY24. The list notes the ask is in line with National Defense Authorization Act guidance over the last six budget cycles.
INDOPACOM listed the HDR-H as an unfunded requirement in FY21 as well.
Meanwhile, the new defense-authorization legislation also supports the establishment of a missile defense architecture in Guam.
MDA requested $78.3 million for missile defense in Guam in FY22 and an additional $40 million to procure long-lead items for the architecture in Guam, but the agency has yet to unveil what that architecture will look like.
The defense secretary and MDA director, along with the INDOPACOM commander, “shall identify the architecture and acquisition approach for implementing a 360-degree integrated air and missile defense capability to defend the people, infrastructure and territory of Guam from the scope and scale of advanced cruise, ballistic, and hypersonic missile threats that are expected to be fielded during the 10-year period beginning on the date of the enactment of this Act,” the NDAA language states.
Lawmakers are requiring the Pentagon and MDA, when developing the architecture, to “leverage existing programs of record to expedite the development and deployment of the architecture during the five-year period beginning on the date of the enactment of this Act with an objective of achieving initial operating capability in 2025.”
The programs of record are the Aegis ballistic missile defense system, the Standard Missile-3 and -6 variants, the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, the Patriot Air and Missile Defense System and the Integrated Battle Command System.
Other systems include the Lower-Tier Air and Missile Defense Sensor and “other lower tier capabilities as applicable,” and should consider integrating future systems and interceptors – like directed energy-based kill systems – that have the ability to get after hypersonic missile threats in both glide and terminal phases.
The NDAA requires a report no later than 60 days after enactment on the architecture and acquisition approach for the system.
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 in journalism from Boston University and a Bachelor of Arts from Kenyon College.