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Pentagon budget 2024: MDA seeks USD3.076 billion for strategic missile defence

Improving the GMD system has been a top priority for MDA. However, the effort suffered a major setback after a new kill vehicle programme was terminated. That programme was replaced by the NGI. (MDA)

The US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) is requesting about USD3.076 billion to improve its strategic missile defence system, known as the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD), including funding to develop a new Next Generation Interceptor (NGI).

Last year, MDA received USD2.618 billion for strategic missile defence. That funding was meant for upgraded ground infrastructure and improved reliability of fire-control and kill vehicle software, added software for a selectable two- or three-stage rocket booster, and new boosters.

In September 2022, the MDA, with contractors Boeing and Raytheon, conducted a test launch of a GMD Ground-Based Interceptor (GBI), flying a mock-up of the Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV), with a three-stage booster operating in a two-stage mode.

The test – in which the third stage was not ignited – demonstrated a new capability for the GBI, enabling it to release the kill vehicle earlier in flight. The MDA designates this new capability as “a 2-/3-Stage selectable GBI”.

In FY 2024, MDA requested USD903.6 million to “complete developing, testing, and fielding the Ground System 8 software build” that provides the 2-/3-stage selectable booster for the GBIs, “improves [target] discrimination, integrates [the forthcoming Long-Range Discrimination Radar] LRDR with [the GMD Fire Control System] GFC, improves cyber-security posture”, and more, the agency said in budget documents published on 13 March.

MDA also requested USD41.8 million for the GMD test programme, as flight test mission FTG-12 will demonstrate upgrades such as the 2-/3-stage selectable booster against “a threat representative intermediate-range ballistic missile”, MDA said.

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