Ground Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) program Manufacturer: …

Ground Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) program


Boeing [BA] is the lead systems integrator for the GMD program and there are several other key contractor participants. Both Lockheed Martin [LMT] and Orbital Sciences [ORB] are developing ground based interceptors (GBIs) for the system. In addition, Raytheon [RTN] is providing the exoatmospheric kill vehicle that will be launched on the GBIs. Raytheon also provides the Standard Missile-3 that would provide a sea-based missile defense component from Aegis ships to work in conjunction with the overall umbrella of the GMD system. Northrop Grumman [NOC] also is providing the battle management, command, control and communications to link the components together and developing the early warning space-based sensors that are also planned as an integral part of the system. In addition to the larger contractors, there are a large number of support contractors and government agencies involved in the overall missile defense effort.


As envisioned, the GMD system would be capable of protecting the United States homeland in the case of a limited long-range ballistic missile attack. The White House gave a green light for the deployment of a GMD testbed in the 2004-05 time frame. While the testbed would be operational to defend in the case of an attack, simultaneously it will be used to test components of the system and bring on new advanced block capabilities as they are available.

Combat Use:

The GMD system would provide a defense against long-range incoming ballistic missiles. The GMD testbed is the cornerstone of a larger ballistic missile defense system (BMDS) architecture that includes, ground, air and sea assets to provide multiple layers of defense to take out enemy missiles in boost, midcourse and terminal phases of flight. That comprehensive BMDS system could evolve into a global umbrella in the future given adequate funding, technological success and expanded foreign participation.

Foreign Users:

At this time there are no direct foreign participants in the GMD program or the overall ballistic missile defense system plan. However, since the dissolution of the ABM treaty a number of new cooperative relationships have been formed between U.S. companies and overseas partners in the missile defense area to set up frameworks for joint work. While MDA has been a proponent of joint cooperation, MDA officials have predicted the most substantial work will begin on the industry-to-industry level. Meanwhile, the United States and Britain signed a framework memorandum of understanding (MoU) on June 12, 2003, to develop bilateral cooperation on missile defense. That MoU is expected to lead eventually to incorporation of Britainís Fylingdales radar site in the overall missile defense system. The proposed role for the Fylingdales radar would be tracking and identification in addition to detection of ballistic missiles. Conceivably, the upgraded Fylingdales radar could provide midcourse target tracking information on inbound missiles to cue the other X-band radar components of the missile defense system. The Fylingdales site was built as a result of an agreement between the United States and Britain in 1960 for early warning purposes. The Danish government has received a similar request from the United States to upgrade the early warning radar in Greenland. The United States also is pursing cooperation with Japan, with an emphasis on sea-based capabilities.


The Pentagonís GMD program is proceeding rapidly toward the 2004-05 testbed capability. MDA officials over the past several months have reported progress in building the silos and infrastructure for the GMD testbed and plan soon to resume a rigorous integrated flight test program. While critics of missile defense have blasted MDA for what they say is a scaling back in the number of flight tests that will actually involve the intercept of a target, MDA officials contend the tests are increasingly more complex and will take the program on a steady path toward the planned 2004-05 deployment of the GMD testbed. Under current plans for GMD, by the end of FY '04, MDA will add one more GBI at the testbed site at Fort Greely, Alaska, for a total of six GBIs at that site, and four GBIs at Vandenberg AFB, Calif. Then, in 2005, MDA is asking for appropriations to produce up to 10 additional GBIs for fielding at the Greely site. In addition, the plan calls for production by the end of 2005 of between 10 and 20 Raytheon Standard Missile-3s for deployment on three Aegis ships converted to the missile defense mission. Lockheed Martin provides the Aegis Weapon System to the Navy. MDA broke ground at the Greely site on June 15, 2002. Since that time, 550 acres have been cleared and 80,000 square feet has been under construction, with 11 new buildings and renovations of 25 others, according to MDA officials. All of the building construction is to be completed by the spring of 2004. Construction on the first GBI silo at Greely was due to be completed by the end of the summer, with the sixth of the silos slated for completion in February 2004. MDA is also building the silos at Vandenberg during this period. Simultaneously, MDA is proceeding with 104,000 square feet of construction at Eareckson Air Station, located on Shemya, Alaska. The upgrade to the Cobra Dane radar at that site is to be completed in 2004. And, work is proceeding also on the communications network for the site and the overall ballistic missile defense system, according to MDA. MDA in April also reported it completed the required environmental evaluation work to allow for placement of up to 40 missile silos at Greely. Meanwhile, the GMD flight test program is set to resume in August with booster flights that will not involve intercepts. Senior MDA officials reported they overhauled their plan for the GMD test program to expand beyond a narrow focus of proving hit-to-kill technology and take a more holistic approach to demonstrating a fully integrated system. MDA's revised plan for the GMD program recently went through a major review involving more than 100 participants from the industry and government working on the program. While the test plan has been devised, MDA officials stressed it is not set in stone and will continue to evolve and could change as the program progresses and lessons are learned.