To return GMD to a true deterrent, MDA must choose a partner with a track record of delivering across complex never fail missions. The nation deserves a partner who can leverage hit to kill technology, space programs, and strategic ballistic missiles capabilities and use them to modernize our missile defense in the face of an ever-persistent threat.
A nuclear ballistic missile attack against the U.S. homeland is not just an existential threat, it is real and growing daily. North Korea has tested an ICBM capable of reaching the entire continental United States and, in 2017, tested a 250 KT nuclear device – 17x larger than the blast over Hiroshima during WWII. Our existing Ground Based Interceptor (GBI) fleet is a hastily-fielded operational prototype that has provided an adequate defense against the threat to this day, but it is not fit to protect the US from the threats of 2030 and beyond.
Our fielded system has achieved 11 intercepts in 19 attempts since 1999 and while recent tests demonstrate the promise of the system, the interceptor has reached a point where it can no longer be simply updated to meet the demand. As the primary line of defense for the nation against ballistic missiles, our testing should result in a deterrent effect for our adversaries, not embolden them further. Test failure translates into regions devastated and untold economic impacts.
The most recent attempt to modernize the Ground-based Midcourse
Defense (GMD) system was the Redesigned Kill Vehicle (RKV), initiated in 2015. RKV was designed to be a modest, rapid,
unitary kill vehicle, but was cancelled due fundamental systems engineering
flaws that resulted in multi-year delays and hundreds of millions of dollars in
cost overruns. This stemmed from attempted reuse of existing standard
technologies not designed for the space environment and the realization that a complete
overhaul of most flight systems was required. Following its’ cancellation, the
Missile Defense Agency (MDA) evaluated the threat assessment and in
consultation with USSTRATCOM, USNORTHCOM, NSC, OMB, and OSD, defined a program
that would outpace threat advancements and impose costs on our adversaries by
increasing our efficiency in defeating threats.
Balancing the threat, program cost, and schedule pressures, the Next Generation Interceptor (NGI) was deemed the preferred solution. The path forward and program requirements were approved by the Joint Requirement Oversight Council (JROC), comprised by the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and each military service’s Vice Chief, and the Missile Defense Executive Board, chaired by the undersecretary of Defense for acquisition & sustainment, Ellen Lord, and the MDA Director, Vice Adm. Hill.
The nation cannot afford to get homeland missile defense wrong again. The interceptor must be treated as a national priority weapon platform, never losing sight of the threat and the consequence of mission failure. Future interceptors need to be a dependable first line of defense against evolving threats and industry must embrace modern practices to deliver this capability on an accelerated schedule. It’s imperative that the DoD choose an industry-partner with a track record of delivering on never-fail missions.
From experience in 60 years of Navy Fleet Ballistic Missile (FBM) programs, the original Atlas and Peacekeeper Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM), the Pershing Theater Tactical Ballistic Missile, the SR-71 Blackbird, Apollo missions, and the 1st successful US Mars lander – Viking 1, the nation has always turned to Lockheed Martin for its most ambitious missions. The notable reputation and trusted partnership have followed into the 21st century as Lockheed delivers on many of the nation’s most critical programs: the GPS III and AEHF constellations, the Orion capsule, nearly all US hypersonic weapon programs of record developments, missile defense systems for our forward deployed warfighters, and two legs of the nuclear triad (Trident II D5 Submarine-launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBMs) and Minuteman III Reentry Vehicles). Mission success is at the core of LM’s culture: the Trident II D5 program has 178 successful test launches since 1989, THAAD has a 100% success record in flight test, and the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense Weapon System has operated flawlessly on all 49 tests.
To return GMD to a true deterrent, MDA must choose a partner with a track record of delivering across complex never fail missions. The nation deserves a partner who can leverage hit to kill technology, space programs, and strategic ballistic missiles capabilities and use them to modernize our missile defense in the face of an ever-persistent threat. Only then will the GMD system that was always envisioned, but never delivered, be realized. Once fielded, this system will protect the American people and homeland against the evolving, rogue ballistic missile enabling us to project strength, deter the rogue nation state and bestow the cost and technical imposition on our adversaries.
Source: Breaking Defense