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Admiral Testifies on Missile Defense Budget, Progress

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 12, 2014 – Critical upcoming flight tests, progress worldwide, growing missile proliferation and cybersecurity were among the topics Navy Vice Adm. James D. Syring discussed yesterday before a Senate panel.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
The Aegis Ashore weapon system launched an SM-3 Block IB guided missile from the land-based Vertical Launch System during a Missile Defense Agency and U.S. Navy test from Kauai, Hawaii, May 20, 2014. Missile Defense Agency photo

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

The Missile Defense Agency director testified before the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee on the agency’s budget request for fiscal year 2015.

The MDA is developing, testing and deploying a system designed to counter ballistic missile threats of all ranges -- short, medium, intermediate and long. The Ballistic Missile Defense, or BMD, system has many integrated elements and a layered architecture that offers several ways to destroy incoming missiles and warheads before they reach their targets.

The architecture includes:

-- Networked sensors and ground- and sea-based radars for detecting and tracking targets.

-- Ground- and sea-based interceptor missiles that can destroy a ballistic missile using the force of a direct collision, called “hit-to-kill” technology. A critical ground-based interceptor, or GBI, component called the exoatmospheric kill vehicle, or EKV, uses such technology. An explosive blast fragmentation warhead also can destroy a ballistic missile.

-- A command and control, battle management and communications network that gives operational commanders links between sensors and interceptor missiles.

During his testimony, Syring said the agency’s total request for fiscal year 2015 is $7.46 billion, including $1.3 billion for homeland defense as the agency prepares to expand its fleet of GBIs from 30 today to 44 by fiscal 2017.

GBIs are part of the missile defense system’s ground-based midcourse defense, or GMD, element. This element uses integrated communications networks, fire-control systems, globally deployed sensors, and GBIs that can detect, track and destroy incoming ballistic missiles. A GBI component called the EKV is a sensor and propulsion package that uses kinetic energy from a direct hit to destroy the incoming target. The agency says it has proven the EKV technology in flight tests, including three tests using GBIs.

“My highest priority remains the successful intercept flight test of the CE-2 [variant] exoatmospheric kill vehicle,” Syring told the senators.

In December 2010 two intercept tests of the EKV failed but Syring said he is confident the problem is fixed.

“I look forward to conducting the intercept test … later this month,” he said, and told the senators that the agency also identified the root cause of an intercept test failure in July 2013 involving the first-generation EKV, when the CE-1 variant kill vehicle failed to separate from the booster's third stage.

“We have accounted for this issue in the upcoming flight tests and we are working toward a correction for the entire fleet before the end of the year,” Syring added.

In January 2013 the agency conducted a successful nonintercept flight test of the EKV and confirmed it was on the right path to return GMD to sustained flight testing, the director said.

Rather than continuing to make year-to-year reliability improvements to the GBIs, Syring advised the panel, in FY 15 the agency is submitting a request to begin a redesign and improvement of the GBI EKV.

“The new EKVs will be more producible, testable, reliable and cost effective,” he added, “and eventually will replace the kill vehicle used in our current GBI inventory.”

MDA will continue to improve the performance of Aegis ballistic missile defense, the naval component of the MDA missile defense system, and in the fiscal 2015 budget request MDA seeks to procure 30 standard missile-3, or SM-3, Block 1B guided missiles.

“We will request a 4-year, multiyear, procurement authority for the 1B starting in fiscal 2016,” the director said.

Syring told the panel that last year MDA completed six BMD Weapons System installations on Aegis ships and that there are now 30 BMD-capable Aegis ships in the fleet.

Syring has called the Aegis program one of the most adaptable and critical to U.S. and allied defense, and the program seeks to have 43 such ships by fiscal 2019.

“We are requesting $929 million in [research, development, test and engineering] funding in fiscal 2015 to continue development, testing and installation of Aegis BMD capabilities to defeat longer-range and more sophisticated ballistic missiles launched in larger raid sizes,” he added. Raid size refers to the number of ballistic missiles fired at a target.

The homeport transfer of four Aegis BMD ships to Rota, Spain, began in February with the USS Donald Cook and another Aegis BMD ship, USS Ross, is scheduled to transfer later this year, Syring added. Another two Aegis BMD ships will transfer in 2015.

Aegis Ashore is the land-based component of the Aegis BMD. It adapts present and future Aegis BMD capabilities to address the evolving ballistic missile security environment. Over the next decade, Aegis BMD and SM-3 upgrades are being phased into deployed Aegis BMD ships and land-based facilities, according to an MDA fact sheet.

Aegis Ashore is part of Phased Adaptive Approach, or PAA, phases II and III. In 2015, Aegis Ashore will be installed in Romania as part of PAA phase II to provide ballistic missile coverage of Southern Europe. In 2018, Aegis Ashore will be installed in Poland as part of PAA phase III to support defense of Northern Europe.

The United States has missile defense cooperative programs with several allies, including the United Kingdom, Japan, Australia, Israel, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Poland, Italy and many others.

MDA also participates in NATO activities to maximize opportunities to develop an integrated NATO ballistic missile defense capability.

“I want to be very clear,” Syring told the senators. “We remain on schedule to meet the presidential mandate for deployments of phase II and III of the European phased adaptive approach. I was just in Romania last week,”

On Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, interceptors, the director said that in fiscal 2015 MDA will procure 31 interceptors for the THAAD system and fund more TPY2 radar spares and another THAAD battery for the Army.

The THAAD element gives the BMD system a globally transportable, rapidly deployable capability to intercept and destroy ballistic missiles inside or outside the atmosphere during their final, or terminal, phase of flight. A THAAD battery consists of four main components -- a launcher; eight interceptors per launcher; an X-band radar called Army Navy/Transportable Radar Surveillance, or AN/TPY-2; and fire control.

Also in fiscal 2015, Syring said, MDA will begin developing a long-range discrimination radar with deployment planned in 2020.

“The new mid-course tracking radar will provide persistent coverage and improved discrimination capabilities against threats to the homeland from the Pacific theater,” he added.

In response to a question about North Korea’s missile threat, the director said the threat that North Korea poses to South Korea is very real.

“North Korea has demonstrated through flight testing a capability that threatens South Korea,” he said, “and the North Koreans have paraded longer-range missiles around their country in annual provocation cycles that are concerning to say the least.”

On the topic of cybersecurity, Syring said in written testimony that MDA has worked diligently to enhance the cybersecurity of missile defense networks and improve the protection of ballistic missile defense information.

“MDA has developed new policies, partnered extensively with industry and other Department of Defense organizations, and has continuously increased investments in cybersecurity to ensure our networks and information remain secure against cyber attacks,” he said.

MDA also has expanded a partnership with the Pentagon’s director of Operational Testing and Evaluation to test and experiment with cybersecurity on MDA systems, the director said.

(Follow Cheryl Pellerin on Twitter: @PellerinAFPS)


Contact Author

Navy Vice Adm. James D. Syring

Related Sites:
Missile Defense Agency
2013 Ballistic & Cruise Missile Threat (PDF)

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