WASHINGTON — U.S. Northern Command is asking again for additional funds to develop a homeland cruise missile defense capability in its wish list sent to Capitol Hill.
The wish list — or unfunded requirements list — is sent annually to Congress from combatant commands and service leaders and includes items that did not make it into the budget request, but would be desirable if additional funding becomes available.
Gen. Glen VanHerck, the commander of U.S. NORTHCOM, is seeking $50.87 million for a cruise missile defense homeland kill chain demonstration, according to the list, obtained by Defense News.
“The requested funds will enable a capability demonstration that integrates an elevated sensor into a Joint Tactical Integrated Fire Control architecture with fire control for a Navy long range surface to air interceptor,” the document reads.
“Funding will support sensor procurement and integration into existing fire-control network/architecture, up to three one-week exercises for data collection and data evaluation, integration of a Navy long range surface to air interceptor and a live fire test/demonstration,” it continues.
VanHerck notes the National Defense Strategy includes developing and fielding capabilities needed to deter and defeat specific threats to the homeland, “including Russia’s growing long-range cruise missile threat.”
To detect and defend against these kinds of threats, a network of elevated sensors must “provide high fidelity tracking and identification of low altitude and low radar cross section targets approaching critical [continental United States] infrastructure,” the document states.
NORTHCOM is partnering with the Missile Defense Agency to develop affordable technology that could quickly transition from testing to procurement then to integration and fielding, according to the document.
The Missile Defense Agency is planning to spend $11 million to work on the system architecture for cruise missile defense of the homeland, according to its fiscal 2023 budget request. This includes the fire control demonstration using the Joint Tactical Integrated Fire Control System.
“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,” Vice Adm. Jon Hill, MDA director, said, of homeland cruise missile defense, when the FY23 budget was released last month. “Our job is to lay down the technical architecture options and work that within the department to see what we can do.”
MDA requested $14 million in FY22 to work on homeland cruise missile defense. In its FY22 wish list, it sought another $27 million to develop and demonstrate the fire control sensor for potential cruise missile threat engagement, which could also be effective in detecting hypersonic missile threats.
US NORTHCOM included the same request in its FY22 unfunded requirements list.
In the new wish list, NORTHCOM is asking for an additional $135 million in total.
The command would like $29.8 million for an Information Dominance Enabling Capability. The funding would buy needed information technology equipment and fund configuring infrastructure to support applying and optimizing artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities into the NORAD and NORTHCOM Joint Operations Center.
Another $5.05 million would be spent on digitizing Alaska Long Range Radar sites, and NORTHCOM is asking for $49.3 million for refurbishment and replacement of aging infrastructure systems at Cheyenne Mountain Complex. The funding would “recondition” two 1960s vintage diesel generators, repair blast valve components and HVAC systems and replace the uninterrupted power supply battery system.
Joe Gould contributed to this report.
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.