MDA’s plan to protect Guam builds on field-proven systems

WASHINGTON — The Missile Defense Agency’s initial plan for Guam’s protective architecture is looking to proven systems to help the agency meet a 2026 fielding deadline, according to Vice Admiral Jon Hill. , director of the agency.

Defending Guam from potential ballistic, cruise, and hypersonic missile attacks has become a priority for MDA, which is seeking $539 million in fiscal year 2023 to continue designing and developing multiple ground-based radar systems, acquire weapon system components and initiate military construction. planning and design activity.

“Current forces are capable of defending Guam against today’s North Korean ballistic missile threats,” MDA comptroller Dee Dee Martinez said during a March 28 budget briefing at the Pentagon. “However, the regional threat to Guam, including from China, continues to evolve rapidly.”

In FY22, the agency, at the request of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, requested $78.3 million to consider systems to support Guam and an additional $40 million to procure long-lead items Delivery.

The idea was that the agency would have a clearer idea of ​​how to defend Guam against missile threats by FY23 and then pursue funding for the implementation of the architecture, according to the budget briefing. from last year.

In FY22, Congress eventually provided an additional $80 million to fast-track Guam’s architecture.

The architecture will not be a fixed missile defense site like Aegis Ashore in Romania and Poland, Hill said. “Think of it as a distributed system.” He added that the agency is interested in using mobile launchers.

The architecture will include the Navy SM-3 and SM-6 missiles, the Patriot air and missile defense system, and the Army’s High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system. A THAAD battery has been operating on Guam since 2013.

These elements will be connected through the Army’s Integrated Combat Command System, a command and control system that links sensors and gunners on the battlefield. The agency will also use the fire control capability of the Aegis weapon system, Hill said.

“Patriot [has] a fabulous capability for cruise missile defense, and that’s our first area of ​​focus,” Hill said. “And we have the capability within Aegis to enable that, but right now we’re building ballistic missiles, hypersonic, on the Aegis part of this overall integrated architecture, and then the cruise missile will be with the systems of the ‘army.”

Iron Dome heads for missile defense experiment in Guam

While MDA is focused on using existing technology to build the architecture, it will consider new technologies, including the medium-range capability missile that the Army will field in FY23, as soon as will be available, according to Hill.

And even though MDA uses proven systems, it remains a challenge to build the architecture on Guam.

“There’s a small percentage of land that’s available for us to land that capability, so we’re going to skate very close to the Joint Regional Command there for land allocation and location,” Hill said.

“This island topology…it’s a tough place,” Hill said. “An Aegis Ashore site is limited in what it can do because of the hills going up and down, you have radar, it’s not flat land, and it certainly isn’t flat on Guam , so we’ve done some really amazing work and analysis over the last two years…dispersing the systems and making sure everything is networked.

Architectural development in Guam should not be viewed as a “one-time” capacity, Hill said.

“What we do on Guam will inform what we do on homeland cruise missile defense, for example,” Hill said. “We’re using existing sensor technology, we’re going to connect through command and control combat management to spatial assets and other sensing capabilities to have our merged trail there.”

MDA will also use “different launch systems and different missile capabilities that exist today and are constantly evolving,” he added. “We’re going to do something big there, and it’s going to be expandable.”

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