Senate appropriators increased missile defense funding by $1.4 billion over the administration’s request for fiscal year (FY) 2018, but at a lower rate than the authorization bill allowed for.

The Senate Appropriations Committee’s (SAC) report, released Nov. 21, funded the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) at $9.3 billion, about $1.4 billion over the administration’s request (Defense Daily, Nov. 21).

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

However, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), approved earlier this month, authorized the MDA to be funded at up to $12.3 billion. That was $4.4 billion over the administration’s request (Defense Daily, Nov. 8).

The NDAA authorized up to 28 more Ground-Based Interceptors over the administration request and required the Secretary of Defense to develop a plan to increase that number up to possible 104 interceptors.

GBIs are the interceptors in the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system that aim to protect the U.S. homeland from long range ballistic missiles, like from North Korea.

In contrast, the SAC report supported 20 additional GBIs. It also added one additional GBI missile field to Fort Greely, Alaska, plus sensor upgrades for the GMD system.

Fort Greely hosts two missile fields and the majority of the 44 total GBIs. Several GBIs are also based in Vandenberg AFB, Calif.

The appropriation report noted the Trump administration submitted FY ’18 budget amendments with an additional $2 billion for MDA to sustain efforts started in FY 2017 and procure 50 additional Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) systems and 15 Standard missile (SM)-3 Block IIA interceptors (Defense Daily, Nov. 6).

This goes beyond the original FY 2018 request for 117 Standard missiles.

The SAC recommends fully funding those requests and also added almost $365 million over the budget request in Research, Development, Test and Evaluation (RDT&E) Defense-Wide accounts “to further accelerate the missile detect and defeat capacity and capability enhancements identified and initiated by MDA.”

The committee provided $392 million over the budget request in RDT&E and Procurement Defense-Wide accounts “to accelerate and expand fielding” of integrated THAAD and Patriot capabilities in support of the Pacific Command Joint Emerging Operational Need (JEON).

The appropriators separately supported MDA unfunded requirements and critical needs at $322 million over the budget request. This included working toward enhanced discrimination capabilities, development and fielding a new radar in Hawaii, increased test capabilities, and cyber enhancements.

Senate appropriators also increased funding for cooperative U.S.-Israeli missile defense programs like Iron Dome, Arrow, and David’s Sling.

The administration requested $147 million for the development and procurement of these programs, a decrease of $453 million from the fiscal year 2017 appropriation. The committee noted it approved a request from Israel for an additional $558 million to fund the cooperative missile defense programs at almost $706 million for FY 2018.

Aside from funding, the report directed the MDA director to work with the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Warfare Systems to provide an unclassified report specifying the acquisition and inventory objectives for all elements of the Standard missile portfolio by variant in the FY 2019 budget request.

This directive comes after the committee found a previous report on acquisition objectives for the SM-3 Block IB and IIA programs too vague. That report was directed in the FY 2017 budget but SAC found it “not helpful in determining overall program requirements and acquisition strategies, managing the industrial base or controlling costs.”

This directive is in light of the Defense Department considering a multiyear procurement proposal for some variants of the Standard missile. The committee said in the report that it “believes that understanding inventory and acquisition objectives for all Standard Missile variants should be part of any such consideration.”

The SAC also directed the under secretary of defense (comptroller) to coordinate with the MDA director for operations and assistant secretary of the Navy (financial management and comptroller) to certify to the defense committees that the FY 2019 president’s budget request submission “fully funds Standard Missile requirements in support of inventory and acquisition objectives” identified in the ordered MDA report.