MAKING SENSE OF
BALLISTIC MISSILE DEFENSE
An Assessment of Concepts and Systems
for U.S. Boost-Phase Missile Defense in
Comparison to Other Alternatives
Committee on an Assessment of Concepts and Systems for
U.S. Boost-Phase Missile Defense in Comparison to Other Alternatives
Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences
NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
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NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.
This study was supported by Contract No. HQ0147-09-C-0002 between the National Academy of Sciences and the Missile Defense Agency. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations or agencies that provided support for the project. The Missile Defense Agency has approved this unclassified report for public release with the following distribution statement and release number applicable: Distribution Statement A, Approved for Public Release, 12-MDA-6981.
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COMMITTEE ON AN ASSESSMENT OF CONCEPTS AND
SYSTEMS FOR U.S. BOOST-PHASE MISSILE DEFENSE
IN COMPARISON TO OTHER ALTERNATIVES
L. DAVID MONTAGUE, Menlo Park, California, Co-Chair
WALTER B. SLOCOMBE, Caplin & Drysdale, Chartered, Co-Chair
DAVID K. BARTON, Hanover, New Hampshire
MELVIN H. EISMAN, RAND Corporation
DAVID L. FRIED, Royal Oaks, California
ALEC D. GALLIMORE, University of Michigan
EUGENE HABIGER, Gen, USAF (Ret.), University of Georgia
HARVEY L. LYNCH, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, Stanford University (retired)
KENNETH C. MALLEY, VADM, USN (Ret.), Edgewater, Maryland
C. WENDELL MEAD, AGRI, Incorporated
DANIEL L. MONTGOMERY, BG, USA (Ret.), Strategic Defense Solutions
C. KUMAR PATEL, Pranalytica, Incorporated
JONATHAN D. POLLACK, Brookings Institution
DAVID M. VAN WIE, Applied Physics Laboratory, Johns Hopkins University
DAVID R. VAUGHAN, RAND Corporation
DEAN WILKENING, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
CHARLES F. DRAPER, Study Director; Director, Naval Studies Board
RAYMOND S. WIDMAYER, Senior Program Officer
SUSAN G. CAMPBELL, Administrative Coordinator
MARY G. GORDON, Information Officer
ROSE NEUGROSCHEL, Research Associate (April 18, 2011, through January 20, 2012)
SEKOU O. JACKSON, Senior Project Assistant (through April 8, 2011)
Current U.S. policy is to deploy as soon as technologically possible an effective National Missile Defense system capable of defending the territory of the United States against limited ballistic attack, whether accidental, unauthorized, or deliberate.1 The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) of the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) plays a central role in supporting the Secretary of Defense (SECDEF) in developing and fielding an integrated, layered ballistic missile defense system.
Ballistic missile defense (BMD) considers engaging threats during the boost phase, the midcourse phase, and the terminal phase of flight. Boost-phase defense encompasses engagements during the time period when the threat booster is still accelerating. The midcourse defense layer can be divided into (1) ascent phase, when the threat system is engaged prior to apogee, and (2) descent phase, when intercept occurs after apogee. The term “early intercept” is sometimes used to describe intercept after boost in the initial portions of the ascent phase of the threat system before apogee.2 Finally, terminal defense refers to engagements as and after warheads reenter the atmosphere and become subject to drag and reentry heating.
1National Missile Defense Act of 1999, Public Law 106-38.
2Within this report, an additional term, “postboost, predeployment,” is used to describe engagements where the boost phase has ended but deployment of submunitions or countermeasures has not yet occurred. This phase can be very short or nonexistent for certain threat systems.
TERMS OF REFERENCE
The Duncan Hunter National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009 (Public Law 110-417) directed the SECDEF to enter into an agreement with the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in order to conduct an independent study of concepts and systems for U.S. boost-phase missile defense compared with “non-boost”-defense alternatives.3 Subsequent to ensuring that all the necessary contracting and industrial security requirements were met by the NAS and MDA, the two parties entered into a contract agreement and, in December 2009, the NAS president appointed the Committee on an Assessment of Concepts and Systems for U.S. Boost-Phase Missile Defense in Comparison to Other Alternatives.4 The terms of reference for the study—that is, the committee’s charge—include the following.
1. Content—the study should include:
(a) The extent to which boost-phase missile defense is technically feasible and practical against potential ballistic missile threats against the United States, its forces deployed abroad, and its allies;
(b) Whether any demonstration efforts by the Department of Defense of boost-phase missile defense technology existing as of the date of the study (including the Airborne Laser and the Kinetic Energy Interceptor) have a high probability of performing a boost-phase missile defense mission in an operationally effective, suitable, and survivable manner; and
(c) Comparison of effectiveness, limitations and relative life cycle cost with other existing or anticipated alternatives that engage missiles in other phases of their flight.
2. Boost-phase systems to be examined—the study should include:
(a) The Airborne Laser;
(b) The Kinetic Energy Interceptor (land based and sea based options); and
(c) Other existing boost-phase technology demonstration programs.
3. Factors to be evaluated in comparing boost-phase systems with other alternatives—the study should include:
3A copy of the congressional tasking is provided in Appendix A. In addition, the term “systems” is used in place of “concepts and systems” throughout this report, and the term can be either present or proposed.
4Biographies for the committee members are provided in Appendix B. The committee includes experts with experience in industry, academia, and government—combined with many years in strategic and tactical missile and missile defense technologies, system design and analysis, program management, policy, and cost modeling of major weapon systems as well as proven track records in deployment and operational command of these systems. That experience included knowledge of the history of ballistic missile defense, its technology evolution, and programs spanning the period from Nike X, Sentinel/Safeguard to the present.
(a) Technical capability of the system(s) against scenarios identified in paragraph (4) below;
(b) Operational issues, including operational effectiveness;
(c) The results of key milestone tests conducted prior to preparation of the report;
(f) Concepts of operations, including basing considerations;
(g) Operations and maintenance support;
(h) Command and control considerations, including timelines for detection, decision-making, and engagement;
(i) Shortfall and debris from intercepts;
(j) Force structure requirements;
(k) Effectiveness against countermeasures;
(l) Estimated cost of sustaining the system in the field;
(m) Reliability, availability, and maintainability;
(n) Geographic considerations, including limitations on the ability to deploy systems within operational range of potential targets; and
(o) Cost and cost-effectiveness, including total lifecycle cost estimates.
4. Scenarios to be assessed—the study should include an assessment of each system identified in paragraph (2) above regarding the performance and operational capabilities of the system to:
(a) Counter short-range, medium-range, and intermediate-range ballistic missile threats from rogue states to the deployed forces of the United States and its allies; and
(b) Defend the territory of the United States against limited ballistic missile attack.
5. Comparison with non-boost systems—the study should include an assessment of the performance and operational capabilities of non-boost missile defense systems to counter the scenarios identified in paragraph (4) above. (The results under this paragraph shall be compared to the results under paragraph (4) above.) For purposes of this paragraph, non-boost missile defense systems include:
(a) Patriot PAC-3 System and the Medium Extended Air Defense System follow-on system;
(b) Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System, with all variants of the Standard Missile-3 interceptor;
(c) Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System; and
(d) Ground-Based Midcourse Defense System.
THE COMMITTEE’S APPROACH
The committee first convened in January 2010 and held several data-gathering and report drafting meetings over an 18-month period.5 In order to address its charge, in part, the committee received briefings from DOD, congressional staff, nongovernmental organizations, and other individuals and organizations, in classified and open sessions. In particular, the committee received many briefings and much information from MDA. Here, the committee sought and received a look into the analyses and rationales behind MDA-sponsored programs. However, the committee also utilized its own independent systems analysis and simulation and costing expertise, in addition to leveraging its members’ expertise accumulated over the years in the research and development, management, and operational command of major missile defensive and offensive missile programs.
Its study is a technical one: The committee has not understood its charter to be to consider the many important policy issues presented by missile defense, including their effect on deterrence, strategic stability, arms control, alliance relations, the appropriate level of funding for missile defense relative to other priorities, and relations with Russia and China. However, its technical charter is a broad one. As described in the terms of reference and reiterated at the inaugural meeting, when the committee met with congressional staff, the study was to compare boost-phase missile defense systems with non-boost-phase defense systems, i.e., alternative defense systems. The committee understood this to mean that it should consider the full range of systems, programs, and approaches and not confine its analysis to strictly boost-phase defense.
Accordingly, the committee examined portions of the current Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system, the Aegis, Patriot Advanced Capability (PAC-3), and Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) systems currently being fielded, as well as their proposed upgrades and all boost-phase missile defense systems that had been considered, including the Airborne Laser (ABL), the Kinetic Energy Interceptor (KEI), and other existing or contemplated boost-phase technology demonstrations (e.g., space-based interceptors and airborne interceptors launched from tactical air platforms). In addition, the committee examined the planned Phased Adaptive Approach (PAA)—that is, the Aegis BMD system, with all variants of the standard missile-3 interceptor given its relevance to the non-boost systems identified in the terms of reference.
5A summary of the committee’s meeting is provided in Appendix C. The committee met with representatives from the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Department of the Air Force, Department of the Army, Department of the Navy, U.S. Northern Command, and U.S. Strategic Command among others in DOD such as the Missile Defense Agency, as well as representatives from the Department of State, the intelligence community, government laboratories, and the industrial base. In addition, the committee travelled to Fort Greely, Alaska, to review the operational doctrine and preparedness for the limited Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system currently in place. The committee also held an open meeting where public input could be provided.
The committee considered the supporting sensor requirements for the various boost-phase and non-boost systems, and each was studied to understand its utility against the criteria identified by the Congress in the terms of reference (e.g., effectiveness, resilience to countermeasures, force structure and realistic operational concepts, and life-cycle cost in comparison with other alternatives).
To support the analysis of life-cycle costs, cost data on prior and current MDA-sponsorsed programs and technology efforts were gathered from various sources, including from MDA and the Congressional Budget Office, as well as programmatic and parametric data related to the development, procurement, and operating and support costs of other existing major DOD, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and commercial systems with elements similar to those planned for ballistic missile defense. Armed with this analogous database of information, the committee developed “should” to “will” cost-bounded range estimates for each of the boost-phase and non-boost systems examined in this report.6
This unclassified report is organized as follows: Chapters 1 through 4 comprise the committee’s comparison of systems for U.S. boost-phase missile defense with other “non-boost” alternatives. Chapter 5 outlines a path forward, including those activities that in its judgment should be redirected or terminated, including the various supporting sensors required. Here, the committee found systems engineering and analysis that need improvement and areas where the current ballistic missile defense capability for U.S. homeland defense—the GMD—should be reevaluated and modified as necessary in order to improve its overall effectiveness to achieve the desired end state while taking proactive steps to substantially reduce future costs. Although this report is unclassified, the committee also produced a separate classified annex, which does not modify any of the report’s findings and recommendations but provides supporting material for them and sets forth details of its analysis.
The months between the committee’s last meeting and the publication of the unclassified report and classified annex were spent preparing the draft manuscripts, gathering additonal information, reviewing and responding to the external review comments, editing the unclassified report and classified annex, and conducting the security review needed to produce both an unclassified report and a classified annex.
The committee thanks the many briefers who presented information essential to the writing of this unclassified report and its classified annex. In particular, the committee is especially grateful to the MDA staff in Washington, D.C., who facililated the committee’s efforts in gathering information related to the study
6The range cost estimates follow the Office of the Secretary of Defense policy guidance described in the Defense Acquisition University article “Drive Productivity Growth Through Will Cost/Should Cost Management,” issued by the Acquisition Community Connection, https://acc.dau.mil/CommunityBrowser.aspx?id=400180&lang=en-US.
tasking, such as military and technical information related to the systems for U.S. boost-phase and non-boost missile defense systems. It is also appreciative of the MDA staff at Huntsville, Alabama, during a site visit, and the operators at Fort Greely Air Force Base and the U.S. Northern Command, who shared operational and technical insights with respect to the GMD system.
Acknowledgment of Reviewers
This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the National Research Council’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this report:
Michael Bennett, Congressional Budget Office,
Joseph M. Cosumano, Jr., LTG, USA (retired), Madison, Alabama,
Raymond Jeanloz, University of California, Berkeley,
William LaPlante, MITRE,
George “Pete” Nanos, VADM, USN (retired), Johns Hopkins University, Applied Physics Laboratory,
David O. Overskei, Decision Factors, Inc.,
John P. Stenbit, Oakton, Virginia, and
Larry D. Welch, Gen, USAF (retired), Institute for Defense Analyses.
Although the reviewers listed above provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by John Ahearne of Sigma Xi (emeritus). Appointed by the National Research Council, he was responsible for making certain that