The House Armed Services subcommittee on strategic forces markup of its portion of the FY ’19 defense authorization bill focused on SM-3 IB multiyear procurement, requiring the director of the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) to begin a program to develop boost phase intercept capabilities and space-based sensors.

The committee’s mark, reported to the full committee last Thursday, would authorize the Defense Department to enter into one or more multiyear procurement contracts for the Raytheon [RTN] Standard Missile-3 Block IB missiles. The missiles are deployed on U.S. Aegis Arleigh Burke-class ballistic missile defense destroyers, Japanese Kongo-class ships, and the Aegis Ashore site in Romania. The mark also declassifies MDA’s flight test plan.

A SM-3 1B launching off a Navy cruiser in Oct. 2013. Photo: Missile Defense Agency.
A SM-3 1B launching off a Navy cruiser in Oct. 2013. Photo: Missile Defense Agency.

Relatedly, the bill would require the Secretary of the Navy to include ballistic missile defense ship requirements in all future force structure assessments. (FSA).

Another section of the bill would require the director of the MDA to begin a program to develop boost -phase intercept capabilities in 2019 that are air launched or ship-based, cost effective, and include a kinetic interceptor. The boost-phase is a ballistic missile’s first phase, as it rapidly accelerates and rises to exit the Earth’s atmosphere.

As part of the effort, the subcommittee directs an independent feasibility study for delivering an initial or demonstrated boost-phase capability by the end of 2021. The study would be conducted by a federally funded research and development center (FFRDC) covering using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and kinetic interceptors.

The mark allows the MDA to enter into kinetic boost phase intercept partnerships with the Defense Ministries of South Korea and/or Japan and provides support for the agency to keep developing directed energy (DE) efforts that contribute to intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) boost-phase intercept in FY ’19.

The subcommittee also gets the ball rolling on a space-based sensor layer for missile defense. It directs the director of MDA to work with the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), Commander of Air Force Space Command, and Commander of U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM) to finish a plan and initiate development for a space-based missile defense sensor architecture in FY ’19.

The MDA’s FY ’19 budget request included $54 million to fund the Space Tracking and Surveillance System (STSS) satellite operations and sustainment and $16.5 million for the Space-based Kill Assessment (KSA) experiment (Defense Daily, Feb. 13).

In a Senate subcommittee hearing last month, MDA Director Air Force Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves said the threat of hypersonic missiles from Russia and China is driving the MDA’s push for space-based sensors to work in concert with the ground-based ones (Defense Daily, April 13).

However, the bill limits funding expenditure or obligations to start the space-based program until the plan is submitted to Congress. The mark also requires the MDA director to submit a report to the congressional defense and intelligence committees by January 2019 on options to use other transactional authorities (OTAs) to accelerate development of the architecture.

Another part of the mark requires the under secretary of defense for research and engineering to transfer all research and development efforts and programs that have not reached Milestone B to the MDA if they are expected to be incorporated into the missile defense system or have explicit ballistic missile or hypersonic defense applications. The same section requires the Defense Secretary to notify the defense committees before any unique acquisition authorities in MDA are changed. It also prohibits changing the missile defense requirements generation process managed by STRATCOM.

Notably, the bill would also require the MDA make the quarter and fiscal year execution of planned flight tests unclassified.


“Together with the release of each integrated master test plan of the Missile Defense Agency, the Director of the Missile Defense Agency shall make publicly available a version of each such plan that identifies the fiscal year and the fiscal quarter in which events under the plan will occur,” the subcommittee wrote in the mark.

In February Inside Defense first reported that the agency would no longer announce a public calendar of upcoming missile tests because of a need to “safeguard critical defense information,” aside from a week’s warning to pilots and boat captains. The information was regularly made public before the decision.

The strategic forces subcommittee’s mark also covered limited testing of the Redesigned Kill Vehicle (RKV) and MDA unfunded priorities.

The subcommittee would prohibit any lot production decision for the Redesigned Kill Vehicle until after at least one successful flight intercept test.

The RKV is being developed to replace the Exo-atmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV) atop the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system’s Ground-Based Interceptors. The bill would allow the Secretary of Defense to waive this requirement in the case of a national security interest, determining the missile threat is advancing so fast the U.S. requires extra capacity in the GMD system by 2023, or the Secretary determines it is appropriate to make a lot production decision in light of an assessment conducted by the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E).

The bill also requires the MDA Director to submit a report to the congressional defense committees, Secretary of Defense, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on the agency’s unfunded priorities list for FY ’20 and ’21 within 10 days of the submission of a budget request to Congress for those years.