The House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee FY ’21 defense authorization bill mark presses the Defense Department on why it made changes to Missile Defense Agency (MDA) programs and technologies in the latest budget request.
The panel pushed for action on boost-phase missile interception. It noted there are no efforts to develop a boost phase intercept capability within the MDA’s five-year Future Years Defense program and no opportunities to modify mature kinetic intercept technologies “that could prove to be cost-effective and appropriate for regional missile defense.”
The subcommittee recommended MDA develop the technologies to add to a layered missile defense system “in the near to medium term.”
The mark also said they are also concerned about transferring all directed energy efforts outside MDA and the removal of funding for the diode pumped alkali laser (DPAL) effort.
“Understanding that directed energy solutions for long-range missile defense largely remain in the advanced technology development phase and could require significant funding and time to fully develop and deploy, these technologies could address the cost imbalance between missile defense and offense,” the mark report said.
Therefore, the committee would require the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, in coordination with the Director of the MDA, to submit to HASC a report by Jan. 31, 2021, detailing missile defense efforts across DoD.
The report would include efforts and cost of developing mature technologies for kinetic boost-phase defense for regional missile defense applications as well as long-range directed energy efforts, specifically focusing on energies needed beyond 500 megawatts “and how the overall directed energy roadmap is being used to synergize efforts across the services and agencies while also addressing unique requirements for each potential platform.”
The February FY ’21 budget request moved all directed energy funds out of MDA and consolidated them under the office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (Defense Daily, Feb. 24).
At the time, MDA Director Vice Adm. Jon Hill said this is just a shift in the priorities of how DoD does things across the department.
“The Department had come in and said let’s have a consolidated approach. Dr. Griffin stood up an assistant director for Directed Energy. They built road maps. We lined up to those road maps and what that does is that allows us to work on different types of technologies and they reach a certain power level,” Hill said at the time.
The Strategic Forces subcommittee also said it was concerned by how the FY ’21 budget request canceled the Homeland Defense Radar-Hawaii (HDR-H) and Pacific Radar, since that stops adding more discrimination capability for the U.S. missile defense system.
“The committee has been supportive of efforts to increase discrimination capability of the missile defense system, and is concerned that cancellation of these efforts will result in worsening shot doctrine and overreliance on aging ground- and sea-based radars, such as Cobra Dane and the Sea-Based X-Band (SBX) radars,” the mark said.
The subcommittee would direct the MDA Director, in coordination with the Commanders of Northern, Indo-Pacific, and Space Commands, to submit a report on the impact of canceling these efforts to HASC by Dec. 31.
The mostly unclassified report is directed to at least cover: the current discrimination capability of the missile defense system including assumptions about asset availability, how HDR-H and the Pacific Radar would have increased discrimination capability while highlighting gaps in the current sensor coverage, how that would change if the Sea-Based X-Band Radar (SBX) was not optimally located at sea, how DoD intends to address discrimination improvements without HDR-H or Pacific Radar, costs and sustainment requirements as part of the need to extend the SBX and the Cobra Dane radars because the new radars were canceled, and viability of using modular and relocatable radar capabilities to close ground-based sensors coverage gaps.
Separately, the mark reiterates the committee’s skepticism where MDA is placed in DoD.
It requires the Secretary of Defense to submit a report to Congress on what steps would be needed to realign MDA from the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering to the Under Secretary for Acquisition and Sustainment,
The subcommittee argued MDA has had a 650 percent decrease in funding for advanced technologies since it was aligned under the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering “and that the majority of MDA programs would be acquisition category 1 efforts in the standard Department of Defense 5000 acquisition system.”