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Pentagon’s supplemental budget seeks next-gen homeland defence interceptors

07 November 2017

The White House’s supplemental defence budget request includes a large addition to cover new ‘emergency’ funding for missile defence that would, among other things, buy more homeland defence interceptors.

Under an emergency requirement, part of a 6 November supplemental funding package, the White House proposed an extra USD2.1 billion for construction of another Ground-Based Interceptor (GBI) field at Fort Greely in Alaska, initial procurement towards another 20 GBIs, procurement of 16 Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) Block IIA interceptors used with the US Navy’s Aegis ballistic missile defence (BMD) system, procurement of 50 interceptors for the US Army’s Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, and “other discrimination and shooter capabilities”.Soldiers from the 100th Missile Defense Brigade's C-crew train on the GMD system to shoot down incoming missile attacks (screens are blacked for security reasons). (US Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command)Soldiers from the 100th Missile Defense Brigade's C-crew train on the GMD system to shoot down incoming missile attacks (screens are blacked for security reasons). (US Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command)

The GBIs are used by the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system and are designed to defend against a limited attack from North Korea, which earlier this year successfully tested its Hwasong-14 (KN-20) intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

It is unclear when the GBIs might be fielded or which version of Raytheon's Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle they might be armed with.

The US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) is fitting a number of GBIs with the latest Capability Enhancement II (CE-II) Block I kill vehicles, which is the component designed to actually identify, track, and destroy an incoming nuclear warhead.

MDA has fielded 44 interceptors, mostly at Fort Greely but some at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California as well. About 20 are the first-generation CE-I interceptors, the next 10 or so are second-generation CE-IIs, and then 14 are to be CE-II Block I interceptors that include the latest design.

For its next GBIs, the Pentagon would probably buy the newest CE-II Block I, which scored a successful intercept of an ICBM-range target in May, but MDA is also working to field new kill vehicles: a near-term Redesigned Kill Vehicle (RKV) to improve reliability and a Multi-Object Kill Vehicle (MOKV) to help with target ‘discrimination’ by striking multiple objects within a single threat cloud.

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