Missile Defense

Pentagon to Develop Boost Phase Missile Defense Plan by 2019

The United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket carries the Space Tracking and Surveillance System-Demonstrator, a space-based sensor component of a layered ballistic missile defense system.

The Pentagon will be required to analyze and develop an initial plan to produce a boost phase missile defense capability next season, based on the fiscal 2019 National Defense Authorization Act conference report released July 23, 2018.

Congressional authorities are requiring the Missile Defense Agency director to create a program that develops the ways to intercept hostile ballistic missiles throughout their boost, or initial, phase of flight using kinetic interceptors beginning in FY19, according to the report.

The capabilities developed inside the program ought to be cost-effective and can be air-launched, ship-based or both, the legislation reads.

The MDA is also authorized to enter into partnerships with South Korea or Japan to build up the capacity.

Congress would need the defense secretary to use a federally funded research and development target a feasibility study to deliver an initial or demonstrated boost phase capability using UAVs and kinetic interceptors in the end of 2021.

In the last fiscal year’s NDAA, Congress required the MDA to develop a space-based ballistic missile intercept layer that would be able to intercepting threats inside the boost phase of flight, and lawmakers planned to give MDA one year after dark enactment from the legislation to produce a plan to achieve the ability over the 10-year period.

The NDAA called for a technology risk-reduction phase with three competitively awarded contracts to mature technologies, algorithms, components and subsystems that could develop a “medium-to-high-fidelity” digital representation of an intercept weapon system plus a test schedule that leads to your live-fire boost phase intercept during FY22, when the technology is mature.

In a summary from the MDA’s FY19 budget request, it said the business would always work toward locating a laser on a UAV to address boost phase missile defense risks.

But the MDA did not request any funding in FY19 for laser scaling for a boost phase intercept capability, so Congress is authorizing $50 million to push the time and effort forward. Senate authorities had included $80 million for development, however the House authorization won out in conference committee.

The FY19 NDAA notes that this funding to maneuver forward on boost phase missile defense development is be subject to congressional appropriations.

The Senate appropriators want to offer the Department of Defense $85 million for boost-phase laser scaling in the version from the FY19 spending bill. The House failed to include any related funding rolling around in its version with the bill.

The senators note the funding higher than the budget request would allow the continuation of research and development of the three-separate laser-scaling efforts, which has a goal of demonstrating a 500-kilowatt laser by 2021 and a “best-of-breed” 1-megawatt laser capability by 2023.

The appropriators would direct the MDA to provide a cost estimate and want to proceed while using FY20 defense budget request.

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