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Department of Defense Press Briefing by Vice Adm. Syring on the FY 2017 Missile Defense Agency Budget in the Pentagon Press Briefing Room

Feb. 9, 2016
Vice Adm. Syring

STAFF: -- and then take your questions. Admiral?

VICE ADMIRAL JAMES D. SYRING: Good afternoon, everybody. I'm going to just go through the highlights quickly, and then I'll get right to your questions.

Today, we're -- we're here to brief our budget request of $7.5 billion in FY 2017. In the budget, we really continue four main priorities: the P.B. '16 strategy in the '17 request, increasing the capability of ground-based midcourse defense, GMD, while increasing the ground-based interceptors, GBIs, to 44 by '17, preserving the homeland and regional missile defense priorities, and invest in technology development and capabilities.

From October 2014 to the present, we've executed 20 flight tests. Let me just give you a few highlights on GMD in particular. The request for GMD is about $1 billion. It continues to support the efforts to go to 44 GBIs by the end of '17.

It funds the GMD, flight testing and support of all the IMTP [Integrated Master Test Plan], which is the requirements, increases the stockpile reliability funding and continues the GMD, fire control and kill vehicle software testing.

In addition, we continue on with the RKV program -- the redesigned kill vehicle -- and are requesting $274 million for that continuance, and flight test is still scheduled in late 2018. We will begin deployment of that in the 2020 timeframe, and undertake the other GBI improvements that we've briefed in the past.

We continue reliability improvements, obsolescence mitigation, technology modernization -- everything that we briefed last year continues this year in those important areas.

Shift gears into EPAA [European Phased Adaptive Approach]. EPAA Phase 1 was deployed in 2011. We declared technical capability of EPAA Phase 2 in December. It's over to the warfighter at this point for testing, training and operational acceptance.

We continue to support EPAA and Phase 3 in particular. $630 million towards EPAA Phase 3, which will include the second Aegis Ashore site in Poland. We anticipate beginning construction of Poland in 2016, with a TCD [Technical Capability Declaration] by the end of 2018.

Aegis BMD [Ballistic Missile Defense] -- we continue the procurement of SM-3 (Standard Missile-3) 1B missiles. We continue to deliver SM-3 1B missiles to the fleet. We continue the SM-3 2A development at a pace -- a request of $106 million, and that program went through two successful flight tests in 2015, with two intercept tests scheduled later this year, and that another intercept test scheduled in early '17.

For THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense), as you know, one unit is deployed to Guam in 2013 in response to the North Korean threat in the Pacific area of operations. We continue procurement of THAAD equipment, including 24 interceptors, for a total of $370 million requested. By the end of '17, we'll deliver 61 additional interceptors to the Army -- by the end of '17 for a total of 205.

Shift gears to sensors in space -- continue the work on developing deployment and testing and sustaining of the AN/TPY-2 radars, the Air Force UEWRs (Upgraded Early Warning Radars) and the Cobra Dane radar -- total of just under $500 million is requested in this area.

Continue to support the SBX (Sea-based X-band Radar) and -- at a pace of -- request of $70 million. Continue to move forward with the long-range discrimination radar program in Alaska.

We've requested $162 million for that effort, and also requested another $155 million in MILCON for the Phase 1 of the mission control facility and radar foundation in FY '17. Follow that with a Phase 2 request of $150 million for the rest of the MILCON project.

BMD space program -- we've talked in the past about the space-based kill assessment. That experiment planning goes well -- is going well, and focus area in the 2014 authorization act. We expect to launch the SKA (Space-based Kill Assessment) network in fiscal year '17. We've got $20 million requested in that area -- very important area.

For C2BMC (Command, Control, Battle Management and Communication) and Cyber, $440 million requested for C2BMC. I want to just highlight Spiral 8.2-3. This gives us the Aegis BMD capability and a fivefold increase in the defended area in particular, and allows us to field the functionality and support of EPAA Phase 3, and then important -- engage on remote capability. Continue to integrate and plan for and fund (inaudible), which is the -- the spiral that will bring in the long-range discrimination radar.

MDA cyber operations program, I just want to mention because of its importance. We continue to work hard in this area, in the BMDS as well as other tests and general service systems.

Several initiatives that we've got going -- computer network defense certification, and activities, and then the cert team response, which is our 24/7 cyber monitoring response team, continues to pay great dividends.

We continue to focus on discrimination across MDA, across all of the elements of MDA, and that -- that request is continued in '17.

Just a word about advanced technology -- continue down the path with important laser technology development and the experiments and -- and testing that are -- that are going on, in particular, at the laboratories, and have now broadened into asking industry for what we can do in this area.

Laser technology maturation is critical for us in terms of not only discrimination, but getting to a concept feasibility point on boost-phase intercept.

Just a word about MOKV, multi-object kill vehicle program -- we've got the continued concept development funded in this area, $72 million in '17. Albeit not a full program, we're continuing to refine the industry concepts in this area, and evaluate the future program based on those concepts.

One final word about international -- continue to support the development of all of the regional defense capabilities, which are so vitally important, expanding our work with international partners -- and I'm not going to go into the specifics, but a lot of progress has been made there.

And then, finally, a word about Israel and our continued longstanding support of their cooperative BMD programs, including the development of David's Sling, upper-tier interceptor and Arrow weapon system improvements, and finally, continue the previous efforts in co-producing the Iron Dome defense system in the '17 budget.

Those are the highlights. I wanted, more importantly, to get to your questions. I think we have handouts that -- that describe in more detail, but I'd be happy to take your questions.


Q: Hi. Jen Judson with Defense News. I wanted to ask if the president's budget included anything for THAAD extended-range -- you know, just given what some of the evolving threats are in the Pacific with hypersonic threats, if there's any speeding up of that possibility?

ADM. SYRING: Sure. There -- there's -- there's not a speeding up, but there's a continuance of the work that we started last year with concept developments and -- and not only for that system, but other systems as well, that are important for that region and other threats we're concerned about.

Q: Are you still on track for a 2025 deployment timeframe for that?

ADM. SYRING: That's the notional timeframe that a future E.R., if it was approved, program would deliver. It's about a 10-year development program.


Q: Korea, obviously, the republic is concerned after the space launch. I asked Peter Cook yesterday -- this has had -- your ground-based systems had one successful intercept in the last three, since 2008. You've had two non-intercept tests, including a couple weeks ago.

Tell the American people why they should have confidence in this system, given that it's had a spotty record, albeit a successful intercept in June of 2014. What gives you confidence? What gives you some concerns? And I had a follow-up on the KN-08.

ADM. SYRING: Sure. The -- if I can expand the one for three back to the mid-2000s and actually quote a four-for-seven intercept test record since the mid-2000s on the fielded versions that are -- that are available to the warfighter -- CE1s and CE2 version. So we're really four for seven, plus two successful non-intercept flights.

And -- and it's not just flight testing that helps us inform the reliability numbers that the warfighter uses to inform how they fight. There's also ground system architecture improvements that have gone on.

And the work, Tony, more importantly -- most importantly, in terms of the discrimination efforts that we've focused on to take the system from a simple threat capability to a much more complex threat capability -- that, coupled with the reliability improvements that we're -- been on a steady glide slope to improve the program since a couple years ago, gives us confidence that we're on the right path.

The -- the flight testing record isn't where we'd like it to be, but the failures that we've had have been very simple -- a lockwire, a mechanical vibration of the IMU [Inertial Measurement Unit] and, literally, electrolyte leakage from a battery.

We're not talking about the science and the algorithm and the hard part of hit-to-kill systems here. We're talking about simple corrections that have been found in flight testing, and the corrections have been made and flowed back to the fleet.

So we've learned a lot from the flight testing. But we've also learned a lot through extensive ground testing that we've done, so I think I'll speak for the war-fighter – they -- would be better to answer this. I think he has testified these completely confident in the system and comfortable -- very comfortable with the path we are on with improvements.

Q: (inaudible) -- Mr. Work alluded to it briefly. It's direct threat to the U.S., if in fact it can field it -- what's your understanding of the status of that missile because you're designing a system to counter it?

ADM. SYRING: Sure. All -- the -- the efforts that we have focused on specifically since back in 2013 when Secretary Hagel at the time made the decision to go to 44 GBIs by '17 for that very threat in terms of where we saw the numbers progressing and where we saw the capacity that we need to defeat the potential inventory that they may have.


ADM. SYRING: KN-08s. The -- the second part of that equation is, and I'll just reiterate, they've never successfully or -- attempted to flight test it. And flight testing an ICBM is much different than flight testing what was demonstrated on Sunday. Not that what they did on Sunday was not provocative, it was. Disturbing, alarming, but everything that we've planned and have been supported by the department have been to stay ahead of that very threat. Across the kill chain. And I -- I'm very comfortable that we're one, ahead of it today and the funded improvements keep us ahead of it on where it may be by 2020.

Q: Can I ask you -- (inaudible) -- improvements because you've alluded to the lockwire here and the -- the zip and zap there -- how -- how have they improved or not improved over the last few years?

ADM. SYRING: Have gotten a lot better. We've seen a marked improvement in their efforts in this area. We continue to focus down at the subcontractor third and fourth tier level and continue to ensure that we're passing the same quality rigor down to that lower level of all the suppliers. As you know, there's many on the kill vehicle and it's a constant focus.

Yeah, Andrea.

Q: Hello. Reuters. Just wanted to follow up in terms of this, you know, in changing scenario with Korea -- with North Korea. There's been some discussion that Admiral Harris has acknowledged about, you know, making the -- (inaudible) -- site -- the test site, the -- (inaudible) -- a permanent facility or an operational facility. Can you say a word or two about how those discussion are going and then also, is there some need or some discussion about adding interceptors even beyond the 44? Moving to a higher number in California where, I believe you only have three interceptors now. You know, given the shot doctrine, given the sort of concerns that, you know, still are not completely resolved because you haven't gotten all the fixes in.

ADM. SYRING: Sure. The -- I'll take -- I'll take the first one first. The – Aegis Ashore discussion, I -- I have personally spoken to Admiral Harris about that last week. As a combatant commander his job is to -- continually to pursue as many tools in his tool kit to defeat the threat that he sees coming.

That said, this facility was built as a test facility. And -- and nothing more. But the question and his desire and -- it's a logical one in terms of what could be done. And what could it provide in terms of either sensor or engagement capability? And again, we've not made any movement or decision on this. I -- I would -- I would -- I would characterize it as we're discussing and considering options.

ADM. SYRING: But again, you know, it was built as a test facility and nothing more. And before it would transition to anything beyond that, you'd have to see a whole-of-department agreement and approach on that.

Q: (inaudible) -- of that?

ADM. SYRING: I don't have a cost because there are many different levels of capability that could be considered.

Q: (inaudible).

ADM. SYRING: The -- I'm sorry. Could you repeat the question on the GBI again?

Q: Are you looking at --

ADM. SYRING: More on the West Coast.

No, the answer is no; 44 by '17. As you know, the effort on the kill vehicle, on the redesigned kill vehicle is progressing. And -- and is our future beyond the CE 2 Block one, which we'll test later this year. In terms of what we'll plan to do with that kill vehicle back to the CE 1 fleet, and then any more beyond that I think you would see us request it in that design.

We continue to -- in the new RKV design, if we were to go beyond 44. But the program plan is 44 by '17, with backfit capability of the RKV to get the CE 1 fleet recapitalized. And in -- I'd say the third thing I would answer is the environmental studies that are going on with the east coast site continue. And you'll see us come out with the final EIS by the end of this fiscal year.

But again, no decision has been made on that, and it's only preparatory environmental work that we've done.


I'm sorry. I'll get to you in just -- next.


Q: Courtney McBride with Inside Defense. Thank you.

Is the Aegis shore system being considered for foreign military sales? I know in the last NDAA, Congress inserted some language seeking an explanation of the obstacles to something like that -- (inaudible).

ADM. SYRING: Yes, it's being considered for military sales. I don't want to get out of policy decisions -- out in front of policy decisions. But those countries have expressed interest in it and I'll just leave it at that.


Q: (inaudible) with National Defense Magazine.

How much money has been requested for RDT&E work on laser systems? And are there any milestones ahead for FY '17 or later on in the FYDP?

ADM. SYRING: I'll have to duck it and get back to you on the total number for lasers in particular, because it's broken in many different lines here. But the request and really our focus on lasers continues down the path of scaling up in power, scaling down in size for both the discrimination first mission that we see, and the potential scale-up to a high-power laser someday.

So, we're focused on several different technologies in this area. We've brought industry in and asked them to help us with their thoughts on concepts of potential applications. There's been a lot of work, great work done in the services on this, in the Army and the Air Force and the Navy in particular.

But for our application, we're talking about the need for a much smaller, but at the same time for some applications much more powerful. And it's not the same science in that problem. It's a big focus across our request this year, as it was last year. And the last thing I would say is that the testing that we're doing with the Reapers and the unmanned aircraft in particular is not just lasers, but it's sensing capability which you need to go with a laser, to provide the -- to provide the initial cue.

Big focus for us in terms of where we need to go with that capability.


Q: I wanted to ask an additional question on THAAD, given that it seems like there's more serious discussion of sending THAAD to South Korea. So, with that possibility now, is there more discussion or talk of, you know, there's still the requirement for nine THAAD batteries, but only seven budgeted from last time I checked.

So, will we potentially see a plan to actually buy eight and nine now? Or, you know, what's the discussion behind all that?

ADM. SYRING: So, we're seven fully funded; seven to deliver by 2018 to the Army. Interceptor procurement through 2021 at over 400 interceptors total. We continue to discuss with the Army that requirement and -- and when it would need to be fulfilled and what the -- what the budgeting year would be for that.

It's not off the table in any respect, but not included in this year's budget.

Yeah, Tony?

Q: (inaudible) -- how many missiles -- how many CE 2s or warheads are in the field now? They're going to grow to 44 by 2017, but how many now, roughly?

ADM. SYRING: I'll try to keep it unclassified. It breaks roughly one-third, two-thirds.


Q: (inaudible) -- 38 now, versus 44 -- (inaudible)?

ADM. SYRING: No, no. There -- there are, you know, based on maintenance, we always say that there's 30, but it can go up or down one or two total. And then you'll see us as we go to 44, that mix will be a higher percentage of CE 2s.

Q: (inaudible) -- from 30 to 44 by the end of '17?

ADM. SYRING: '17, that's correct.

Q: (inaudible) -- incrementally adding -- (inaudible)?

ADM. SYRING: We're adding -- no, we're adding -- we're going beyond 30 every month between now and the end of '16. I think the number is 37 by the end of '16, and then 44 by the end of '17. So you're going to start to see that number go up.

Q: All right. And when is the next intercept test scheduled? You haven't had one since June of '14.

ADM. SYRING: And we've learned a lot through our non-intercept tests, like the one last week and -- or two weeks ago. And I would argue that that data is equally important to any intercept test that we do. But the intercept test that we're scheduled to conduct is in November of this year against an ICBM. And that will be the CE 2 Block one interceptor.

Q: (inaudible) -- going to be more -- the most sophisticated target ever? Or --

ADM. SYRING: It will be certainly the longest-range target ever that we've intercepted. And I'll keep the -- I'll keep the other part of that test classified in terms of what we're going to present and what the speed of intercept will be.

Q: Would it be replicating a Taepodong-2?

ADM. SYRING: It would be replicating the expected range and speed of an ICBM. Taepodong-2 is a space launch vehicle. You know, we would be more concerned does it replicate the KN-08.


Q: (inaudible) -- follow up -- (inaudible). I know you're planning an intercept test -- an -- (inaudible) -- to test -- (inaudible) a THAAD against an ICBM as well?


Q: What is the next test? So, THAAD is improving its short- and medium-range targets, right?

ADM. SYRING: We're looking at two tests in the 2017, 2018 time frame that we'll test against the intermediate range ballistic missile. That would be similar to what we would expect from either North Korea, or Iran.

Q: And, just on North Korea because it's been in the news so much with -- thinking about it. Do you have any preliminary thoughts now and assessments of both what the implications are of both the nuclear test, and this most recent launch in terms of any additional capabilities, or any additional knowledge that they've gained, and what does that mean in terms of the program here in terms of defending?

ADM. SYRING: I'll leave others to talk about what the policy implications are of that. I'll talk to you of what we're doing specifically, and what we've planned against that threat. And, again, I keep walking back to the decision that was made to go to 44 GBI's by 2017. We were in a steady state effort on this program when EPAA was born, and there was no planned improvement beyond what was just done to maintain the system. I give great credit to Secretary Hagel, and to Jim Miller in particular, and Admiral Winnefeld of having the vision to say and see this coming.

That decision has enabled us now to be three years ahead of where we would have been if we'd done nothing. So, I've got great confidence in where we are today, which is complete capability against that threat that's never been flight tested.

Where it might be by 2020, and I just reiterate to the American people that that foresight has enabled us to build and maintain, and improve the system in a big way. I can't go into the numbers in terms of where will be with reliability, but it's across the board increase of capability, and across the kill chain that, I think, will give the warfighter great confidence that we're on the right path.

Q: You've addressed the possibilities of an ICBM from North Korea. Could you share any threat analysis you're operating under for the possibility of an Iranian ICBM? (Inaudible) told the House Armed Services Committee, I think, that the Iranians wouldn't be able to field an operational one until later this decade at the earliest. Is that consistent with what you're --

ADM. SYRING: -- I'll let the intelligence community speak for that officially. But, what we've done is not deviate since -- you know, years ago on our path against not just the regional threat that Iran poses, but the potential long range ICBM threat that they pose, and today the current system would protect against that hypothetical threat. The improvements that we're undertaking with 44 by 2017, and everything that we've done to field improvements like the Fort Drum Integrated Data Terminal, the one that we're going to cut into the architecture this year give us that extra communication capability to that exact threat.

Along with all the UEWR improvements that I briefed, and taking that radar which was fairly old technology, and with the Air Force’s help, upgraded that to a good first step of ballistic missile tracking and classification capability. With those improvements, and the other efforts that we've made across the kill chain with GMD, we're equally postured well for that threat, should it materialize.

Yeah, (inaudible)?

Q: I wanted to ask you if you believe that your R&D, (inaudible) funding in '17 is enough to outpace the threats at this point in time, and if you have had to take a step back on anything in '17 that you are worried about?

ADM. SYRING: Not in our request, that -- there are upgrades and programs that are continuing in '17 that we started in '15, actually, that continue to be supported by the department.

And -- you know, I get that R&D question a lot -- is -- if -- you know, if there was something that was ready now, you would -- you would hear me talking about the need for more R&D.

But we're progressing on many fronts right now, at a pace that will get us to decision points in a logical, system-engineered, well thought out, well tested, well analyzed pace to inform those future capability increases.

And -- and I throw THAAD-ER into that mix, or any other capability that we're looking out against the hypersonic glide vehicle threat that we see materializing in the future, and I'm comfortable that we've got the key decision points laid out over the next several years on laser capability, and I'll just leave it at that, interceptor upgrade capability, and more sensor capability as well.

And I think that if -- if there was a glaring hole, having been in this job for over three years now -- and there was a glaring need like there was in 2013, the department would step up and fund that. I think we've got the right balance.

Q: Overall amount of defense -- missile defense funding in the overall defense budget went down from -- to -- I think, 7 percent, to $9.1 billion. I know that that's not all MDA. But what do the -- you know, what -- what -- what went away? What -- what did you have to sacrifice?

ADM. SYRING: So, of the $9 billion that you see, $7.5 billion is MDA. And our P.B. '16 request for '17 was $7.8, and that was our share of the amount that was given to the -- the department, below the budget agreement.

And I think you've heard, maybe -- of the $22 billion at the department level, our share of that was -- was -- was that $300 million, and where we took risk was in interceptor procurement -- THAAD and Aegis in particular.

And we looked inwardly, and have garnered more efficiencies -- I've talked about what we've done in the past, but I'm the first to not want to trade, immediately, warfighting capability when a cut comes down. But there's efficiencies that we've taken across the program and -- and the test program, in terms of becoming more efficient there at a -- at a better cost.

Everybody in the -- in the department is challenged that way, and -- and those are the -- those are the tradeoffs we made.

Yeah? Back here.

Q: I know you guys have the -- the sensor (inaudible) going on right now, but does the budget speak at all to maybe an -- something post-STSS, or --



Q: -- Defense Department satellite that maybe has an MDA -- (inaudible)?

ADM. SYRING: -- we're -- there's been a lot of studies on what should be next, not just for beyond for us, in particular beyond STSS, but what about -- you know, we've proposed PTSS several years ago.

We've engaged with the Air Force and other partners in those studies, and partners outside of DOD even. Our missile defense function is a big part of those discussions in terms of if there's a new constellation, where does missile defense fit in, and we're there. It will not be an MDA-centric satellite system request. I don't want to get out in front of those discussions, but that's where we're headed.

We've got the right effort in terms of the space-based kill assessment, which we're getting up on the commercial satellites, which is going to help a lot in terms of inform that mission, the kill assessment information that we need, and prototype that. Then, the work that we've done in terms of some of the Reaper work with discrimination, and sensors there. Eventually you're going to want to get something into space, and prototype it. I think that'll inform what's the long term end-state.

But, I can assure you that the discussion is where does MDA fit in with partners in that discussion, and that's where we are coming out, and through the AOA.

Q: When do you expect to have, or hold a competition for RKB?

ADM. SYRING: There won't be a competition. We brought the industry partners together --


ADM. SYRING: It'll be out in the 2018, 2019 time frame for production. There's a few that are funded to get us through the test program, but the long term production of that will be competed.

Q: (inaudible) -- Israel, there's been two memorandums of understanding for coproduction in the United States. I think you were actually getting, for David, Iron Dome, and then for David Sling last year? Roughly, where do those stand? Are U.S. companies now getting shares of Iron Dome funding?

ADM. SYRING: There's only one signed co-production agreement today. We're working on the David Sling co-production agreement, and we are garnering -- I won't go into the percent, but it's not significant, not small percent, of workshare that has come back to the United States with Iron Dome.

Q: You mean not insignificant?

ADM. SYRING: Not insignificant. I'm very comfortable that that agreement has panned out, not just for us, but for Israel, and the importance of that system.


ADM. SYRING: Let's go here, and then I'll take Andrea's as well. Go ahead.

Q: Is (inaudible) doing any work right now to upgrade the Patriot system, or is that primarily in the Army --

ADM. SYRING: -- that's an Army program, and Army improvements.

Q: (inaudible) -- David's Sling, and the funding for Israel is in the $125 --

ADM. SYRING: -- that's correct, just over a hundred million --

Q: -- for the David's Sling co-production agreement, when do you anticipate completing that, and is it not correct that the Congress has asked for that to be a 50-50 split on both Iron Dome and David's Sling?

ADM. SYRING: I don't know of that specifically. There certainly is interest. I wouldn’t guess on the percent, but I can tell you that we're working hard with our Israeli partners to come up with the best agreement that we can for us and them. It's been a very open, transparent discussion, and it'll follow the path that Iron Dome followed.

Q: Do you expect an agreement this year?

ADM. SYRING: I can't put a time frame on it, these things take time. As you know, David's Sling was extremely successful at the end of the year in their test series, and exceeded our expectations and their expectations on its performance. We're very comfortable talking about production at this point.

Q: Last year the Israeli's came back with an additional request after the budget had been submitted for additional missile defense support. Do you anticipate, have they signaled to you, that they might asked for additional funding beyond the level that you provided?

ADM. SYRING: Not to me. That'll be a discussion with us, and them. More distinctly between them and the Congress, and I'll stay out of that.

Q: Do you know whether that's going to be part of the MOU that is being negotiated with Israel --

ADM. SYRING: -- I don't have the details of the specifics of that MOU, and I'd be guessing if I said it was -- better suited for State Department policy to answer that.

Okay, thanks.

STAFF: Okay, thank you very much folks. Don't forget, Rick has some handouts for you that the Admiral mentioned at the beginning.

ADM. SYRING: Thank you.