The Missile Defense Agency’s (MDA) FY 2020 budget request documents released Tuesday said the agency’s Redesigned Kill Vehicle (RKV) program will be delayed by two years, which will in turn push out installation of the 20 additional Ground-Based Interceptors that will use them.

The RKV program aims to improve reliability of the GBIs, the interceptors for the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) ballistic missile defense system. There are currently 44 GBIs, with 40 based at Ft. Greely, Alaska. In FY ’18 and ’19 the MDA received funds to start work on building silos for 20 more GBIs to be equipped with RKVs. The agency intends to reach 64 GBIs total.

A Missile Defense Agency Ground-Based Interceptor is launched from Vandenburg Air Force Base, Calif. as part of Flight Test Ground-Based Interceptor (FTG)-15. Photo: Missile Defense Agency.

The MDA is requesting $412 million to continue RKV development work, but the agency anticipates  it will “be delayed by up to two years with a rescheduling of the RKV Critical Design Review (CDR) from late 2018 to the 2020 timeframe.”

The agency claimed the overall design is “mature and robust” but MDA does not want to enter the CDR before the RKV design meets all requirements.

This is pushing back the first controlled vehicle flight test to FY ’22, a first intercept test is panned in FY ’23, and a second intercept flight test planned for FY ’24.

The agency is requesting $1.2 billion to continue efforts to prepare 20 more GBIs to be placed in the Alaska silos. The MDA expects the 20 new GBIs with RKVs to start being installed in FY ’25.

MDA also requests $698 million for 30 SM-2 Block IB interceptors and seven SM-3 Block IIA missiles, including a five-year multiyear procurement for the SM-s IBs ending in FY ’23; $426 million for 37 Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptors, $128 million for the Sea-Based X-band (SBX) radar; 136 million for Long Range Discrimination Radar (LRDR); and $275 million for the Homeland Defense Radar-Hawaii (HDR-H).

The SBX funds would extend the system’s time at sea to 305 days in FY ’20 with 60 days in-port for maintenance in 2020, then reach 330 days at sea each year from FY ’21-24. MDA expects initial fielding of the LRDR in 2020 after it completes assembly, installation, integration, and testing at Clear Air Force Station, Alaska followed by operational acceptance by the warfighter in 2022.

In budget documents, the MDA said it expects the HDR-H to finish complete development and initial fielding in FY ’23 and next year it will request military construction funding for HDR-H to occur from 2021-2022.

MDA also requests another $500 million for Israeli missile defense programs, in line with previous years. The funding goes towards co-development and co-production of the David’s Sling weapon system, Upper Tier Interceptor, and further improvements to the Arrow Weapon System. The agency noted in FY ’20 the MDA budget will support several flight tests across various Israeli programs.

Overall, MDA is requesting $9.4 billion, a decrease from the FY ’19 enacted budget of 10.5 billion.