The U.S. Missile Defense Agency’s funding request of $7.75 billion includes a major departure for the agency’s testing regime: shelving the massive Raytheon Sea-Based X-Band (SBX) radar.
MDA has long used the radar, which is mounted on a large, floating platform, for providing targeting and discrimination data during flight tests in the Pacific region.
Officials will now use the AN/TYP-2 radars, also made by Raytheon, to support this testing as well as future deployments there, one MDA official says. Additionally, the agency has Upgraded Early Warning Radars and the Cobra Dane system to aid in sensor support for testing. The early warning radar in Clear, Alaska, is being upgraded to a more advanced configuration with completion slated for 2016.
SBX funding, which was at $176.8 million in fiscal 2012, sharply decreases to a steady $9.7 million annually through fiscal 2017.
The White House in budget documents suggests that the SBX will be maintained in a “limited test support” role, saving “at least $500 million over five years while also retaining the ability to recall it to an active, operational status if and when it is needed.”
MDA officials are not providing a press briefing on their budget Feb. 13 along with the rest of the Pentagon; instead, a five-page summary of its budget was released.
In it, the agency says it will complete preliminary designs for the Precision Tracking Space System (PTSS), a satellite constellation designed to provide midcourse tracking of warheads as they travel through cold space toward their targets. PTSS is also optimized to help interceptors destroy targets earlier in flight.
Based on MDA’s request, funding should increase from $80.7 million in fiscal 2012 to $297.3 million in fiscal 2013, with another roughly $1.2 billion through 2017.
One sensor effort that appears stalled, however, is the Airborne Infrared (ABIR) project, which aims to use a UAV-mounted infrared system to provide early tracking data of ballistic missiles after they are fired. No funding is provided for this project through 2017.
Another account, dubbed “advanced remote sensor technology,” however, is slated to receive roughly $150.5 million through 2017. MDA’s documents do not outline what technologies are included in this account.
The agency appears to still be committed to development of the SM-3 IIB interceptor, which is slated for fielding around 2020. This yet-to-be-designed missile is intended to enable earlier interception of medium-range and intermediate-range ballistic missiles. Funded at $13.4 million in fiscal 2012, the agency is proposing to raise spending to $224.1 million in fiscal 2013, with another $1.7 billion to follow through 2017.
MDA’s classified “special programs” are listed as requiring $1.6 billion through fiscal 2017.
MDA plans to maintain 30 Ground-Based Midcourse Defense Interceptors (GBIs) in Alaska and California and continue upgrading the missiles. Additionally, five more GBIs are slated to be built for “enhanced testing, stockpile reliability and spares” for a total of 57 in the entire fleet.
Also in the request is funding for 29 Raytheon SM-3 Block 1B missiles as well as 36 Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense weapons.
February 13, 2012
By Amy Butler