Ballistic missile defense (BMD) is at a critical turning point if it is to meet the objectives set forth by the current and past administrations. As stated in Chapter 1, the title of this report, Making Sense of Ballistic Missile Defense, underscores three primary objectives in addressing the congressional tasking: (1) to provide a sound basis for resolving once and for all some of the claims for BMD systems, including sensors, which the committee found are possible in principle but are based on an unrealistically constrained view of the threat, or that given the kinematics and time constraints of the engagement problem, are not realistically achievable; (2) to independently assess, from a user’s perspective, the effectiveness and utility of BMD systems being fielded as well as those being contemplated for future deployment; and (3) as chartered, to examine the resource requirements for each BMD system in relation to its mission utility. Here, the examination of resource requirements is based on currently available program cost data as well as historical cost data on systems with similar elements and considers the realities of achievable concepts of operations (CONOPS).
This report recommends a path forward for improved BMD effectiveness and cost avoidance. These recommendations include termination of some planned and ongoing BMD development activities, instead building on development work done to a level that gives confidence it can be successfully implemented in systems for the four missions examined in this report. If implemented, these recommendations can be accommodated within the current budget requested future years defense plan (FYDP) total obligational authority.
In the preceding chapters, an operational and technical assessment for U.S. boost-phase defense systems and non-boost alternatives is provided. In addition to the assessment of operational and technical elements called for in the con-
gressional tasking, a detailed analysis of cost was also requested. This chapter summarizes the committee’s comparison of operational utility, technical maturity, and cost for U.S. boost-phase and non-boost systems. It is important to note that the committee did not analyze personnel requirements for the force structure; however, the BMD system deployment recommendations for U.S. homeland and European defense are identified well enough to support further study of personnel levels. In general, the Services have defined the force structure and performance that they can afford for BMD missions requiring the use of Aegis, Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), and Patriot Advanced Capability (PAC)-3, and the committee does not believe an assessment of force structure and associated costs was part of its tasking.
Twenty-Year Life-Cycle Costs
Figure 4-1 displays the 20-yr life-cycle costs (LCCs) for the BMD systems—U.S. boost-phase defense and non-boost-phase defense alternatives (midcourse, ascent, late midcourse, and terminal)—examined in this report from FY 2010 forward. Here, the total estimated costs (in FY 2010 constant-year dollars) are broken down into three categories: development; procurement, including military construction (MILCON); and operations and support (O&S) over 20 years. These costs do not include the cost of supporting sensors, which is provided in a later section of this chapter. Sunk investment costs from the start of these programs (or previous heritage programs) through FY 2009 for these various BMD systems are shown in black.
Comparison of Costs and Effectiveness
Table 4-1 and Table 4-2 compare the BMD systems examined in this report. Table 4-1 compares U.S. boost-phase defense systems and Table 4-2 compares non-boost-phase defense alternatives. The reader will recognize the programs of record discussed earlier in Chapters 2 and 3 but will also notice two other systems—continental U.S. (CONUS)-based evolved ground-based missile defense (GMD) (called GMD-E in Chapter 5) and forward-based evolved GMD—where the committee’s analysis and simulation work found significant weaknesses.
Table 4-1 and Table 4-2 present summary measures of effectiveness along with a range of system LCC estimates and force-level quantity buys. Each effectiveness category is a summation of many measures of effectiveness. The system LCC estimates are broken down and discussed further in Appendix E.1
1In addition, Appendix E provides a detailed discussion and analysis of the cost system methodology utlized for this study.
FIGURE 4-1 Twenty-year LCC for boost-phase and non-boost-phase alternatives. (1) Where applicable, MILCON costs included as part of procurement costs; (2) sunk investments based on kinetic energy interceptor heritage; (3) sunk investment based on Aegis block development upgrade, design, and production heritage of SM-2 Block IV; (4) CONOPS based on multimission use of retrofitted available F-15Cs and/or F-35s; (5) procurement cost includes MILCON estimates for recommended missile field and facilities infrastructure construction costs on new northeastern CONUS site; and (6) sunk investment cost for THAAD does not include separately identified past funds for AN/TPY-2 radar.
TABLE 4-1 Summary Comparison of Boost-Phase Defense Systems
|Potential Boost-Phase Defense Alternatives|
|Potential Mission Applicability||Forward Land- or Sea-Based||Space-Based||Forward Tactical Air-Based||Airborne Laser|
|Applicable engagement resilience||Sensitive to basing, geography, and decision time. Cannot engage missiles that burn out earlier and at lower altitude||Poor against salvo and unable to engage shorter-range missiles that burn out sooner and at lower altitude||Good only at close range after air superiority||Limited by geography, atmosphere, and fuel|
|Resilience to tactics and countermeasures||Sensitive to threat, short burn time, and altitude||Brittle to threat, burn time, altitude, and salvoing||Medium|
|System LCC (FY 2010 billion $)||Land-11-13.8a based
|Force quantity||Land- Total of 34 = 20||650 SBIs||4 F-15C||9 aircraft|
|buys||based + 10 test KEIs + 4 spares at two locations with 5 launchers + 1 C2BMC per site||constellation size for boost phase of liquids + midcourse with vbo = 5 km/sec and 20-cm optics||CAPs = 12 F-15Cs + 120 missiles (upper bound use of F-35s)|
NOTE: CAP, combat air patrol; KEI, kinetic energy interceptor; SBI, space-based interceptor. Color key: yellow, system provides some capability but unclear how much can be achieved; orange, system provides marginal capability with serious questions about feasibility; and red, system not viable.
aEstimates based on leveraging the terminated KEI program and sunk research, development, testing, and evaluation (RDT&E) investment costs from FY 2002 with a 10-month study followed in FY 2003 by development effort through FY 2009. Remaining efforts require continuing booster live-fire testing; completing the design of the kill vehicle (KV) or multiple KVs (MKVs), interceptor integration and testing (I&T), and overall system I&T with mobile launcher with canister; command, control battle management, and communications (C2BMC)/fire control unit (FCU) system development and demonstration (SDD) phase span time estimated for another 4 to 7 years before production go-ahead.
bEstimates based on Aegis SM-2 Block IV. Assumed development cost and procurement (FY 2006 through FY 2010) and fuze and autopilot modifications and installation on 18 ships beginning in FY 2008 through FY 2011 as sunk RDT&E investment costs. Development cost only for bringing interceptor production restart and tooling and for incorporating potential design changes due to parts obsolensce. SOURCE: Missile Defense Agency. 2008. “Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense Status, Integration, and Interoperability,” May 6.
cLCC estimate updated using higher costs to account for developmental testing/independent operation testing and evaluation (DT/IOT&E) testing prior to production and launch of SBIs and the added quantity buy for both on-orbit spares to reach full operational capability (FOC) and SBIs needed for replacing those expended as part of continuous testing after FOC of one test per year for first 5 years and once every 2 years after that to ensure C2BMC operational readiness.
dUSAF/MDA estimated marginal O&S cost for multimission role and assumed USAF invests in F-15C service life extension.
eBased on Congressional Budget Office, 2007, estimate of force of nine modified 747s to reach FOC.
Factors included in engagement resilience are defended footprint, battle space for failure replacement and follow-up shots, shot opportunities, leakage and wastage for a fixed inventory, and engagement endurance. The operational utility rating is an assemblage of several measures of military utility, including requirements for supporting sensors and other assets; basing constraints and vulnerability to attack; persistence on station; deployment time and cost; and amenability for high-fidelity operational testing while deployed.
A color rating is provided for each BMD system in each of the effectiveness categories as well as cost. The color ratings are as follows: blue is highly effective; light green is effective at relatively low costs with some weaknesses or lack of ability to handle all expected threats; yellow provides some capability at relatively low costs but unclear how much can be achieved; orange is a marginal capability at relatively low to moderately high costs with serious questions about feasibility or affordability; and red denotes not viable for one reason or another along with relatively high costs.
The 20-yr LCCs for each system are shown in the fifth row across, and the breakdown of those costs for development, procurement, MILCON, and O&S are provided in Appendix E. These LCCs include the additional LCCs for the supporting sensors for the alternatives shown. A separate analysis of supporting sensors and their LCCs is provided later in this chapter.
The U.S. boost-phase defense systems examined in this report are kinetic terrestrial-based (both land and sea), space-based, and air-based. As discussed in Chapter 2, no U.S. boost-phase defense system that is land-, sea-, or air-based can defend against long-range missiles launched from central Iran, where they would be based to protect them from attack as the United States did with its land-based long-range missiles. While shorter range missiles might initially be based in northwest Iran to maximize their reach, they could not be easily intercepted during boost because they burn out sooner and at low altitude.
The land-based system of boost-phase defense is the now-terminated Kinetic Energy Interceptor (KEI) program discussed in Chapter 2, which was determined to be impractical. In short, KEI is impractical because it cannot reach boosting threats launched from the interior of the countries of interest with any realistic
TABLE 4-2 Summary Comparison of Non-Boost-Phase Defense Systems
|Potential Mission Applicability||Potential Non-Boost-Phase Defense Alternative|
|Midcourse||Ascent and Late Midcourse||Terminal Underlay|
|GMD||CONUS-Based Evolved GMD||Forward-Based Evolved GMD||Improved Aegis: SM-3 Block IIA||Improved Aegis: Land-Based SM-3 Block IIB||THAAD||PAC-3/MSE|
|Operational utility||Can engage up to IRBMs||SRBMs and cruise missiles|
|Applicable engagement resilience||Brittle||Very resilient||Very resilient||With EOR||With EOR|
|Resilience to tactics and countermeasures|
|System LCC (FY 2010 billion $)||16.4-20.3a||17-23c||6.4-9.2d||6.0-7.5e||9.2-11.5g,h,i||13.8-16.0j||25.6-33.5|
|Force quantity buys||Remaining buy of 12 GBIs through FY 2016 to achieve operational quantity of 30b||1 NE CONUS site with total of 50 operational interceptors + test assets (with 30 at new NE site + 20 at FGA||1 land-based site in Europe||Projected SM-3 Block IIA quantity 48 (2 dedicated Aegis ships or 2 Aegis Ashore land sites with 24 per site)f||Projected SM-2 Block IIB quantity = 24 (1 dedicated European land site)||9 batteries, buy quantity = 471 to 527 missiles||Remaining buy of 275 PAC-3s + 1,528 new MSEs|
NOTE: FGA, Fort Greely, Alaska; GBI, ground-based interceptor; MSE, missile segment enhancement (improved PAC-3); NE, northeast. Color key: blue, system is highly effective; light green, system is effective for most but not all expected threats; yellow, system provides some capability but unclear how much can be achieved; and orange, system provides marginal capability with serious questions about feasibility.
aAssumed GMD is the committee’s baseline for midcourse, so development and procurement (not separated by MDA) includes RDT&E total investment cost (less sustainment) since national missile defense began and total GBI.
bTotal force quantity buy of interceptors through FY 2016 at FGA and VAFB. Procured 40 GBIs through FY 2011, and MDA budget in FY 2012 FYDP requested the addition of 12 GBIs—1 upgraded fielded GBI and 11 new ones (GBIs 34 through 44) before FY 2016.
cSilo-based evolved GMD includes development, procurement (including MILCON), and 20-yr O&S cost for NE missile field site and four new ground-based X-band (GBX) radars.
dUsed THAAD battery O&S cost (less TPY-2 radar) as analog for evolved GMD battery sustainment costs after adjusting for differences in number of interceptors, launchers, and other system elements per battery.
eBased on the SM-3 Block IIA codevelopment and Aegis ashore RDT&E budget from FY 2010 thru FY 2016 and buy quantity of 29 and the estimated procurement budget cost of additional buy of 15 SM-3 Block IIAs.
fSM-3 Block IIA estimated procurement cost is based on a force quantity buy of 48 operational missiles plus additional test missiles based on a mix of either two dedicated Aegis ships or two Aegis ashore land sites each with a 20-yr O&S cost estimate based on sustaining a level of 24 operationally available missiles.
gBased on total RDT&E, procurement, and MILCON budget from FY 2011 through FY 2016 for a land-based SM-3 Block IIB and a development cost estimate continuing out to at least FY 2019 and possibly out to the FY 2021 time frame.
hFY 2012 MDA PB identified MILCON for construction of land-based SM-3 launch facility in FY 2013 budget.
iThe procurement cost estimate is based on a force level quantity of 24 land-based SM-3 Block IIB operational missiles plus additional test missiles located at one dedicated European fixed site. The O&S estimates are based on continuous O&S of 24 operationally available missiles at one Aegis land-based site over a 20-yr period.
jTHAAD O&S cost includes Army sustainment estimate.
interceptor or basing. As noted in Chapter 2, unless they were based in China or Vladivostok, boost-phase interceptors could not achieve timely intercept of a threat based in northwest North Korea. The situation with respect to Iran is even worse. That this was not understood by those responsible for managing these systems raises questions about the systems analysis capability of the MDA and others.
Sea-based systems for boost-phase defense do not fare much better. By virtue of their ability to maintain station in international waters to the east of North Korea, they could engage some threats launched easterly toward Hawaii while maintaining sea room. While one might expect launches from North Korea toward Japan, approximately 1,300 km away, the boost phase for such missiles terminates at low altitude, making them very difficult to reach unless the interceptor speed is very high. For example, boost-phase interceptors launched from Aegis ships would have a difficult time meeting such speed requirements due to the volume constraints on the Aegis vertical launch system. Similarly, an Aegis-based boost phase interceptor would have difficulty reaching liquid- or solid-propellant ICBMs launched from North Korea (which must head in a north or northeasterly direction if targeting the United States) because of the lack of suitable waters from which to launch such interceptors. Larger ship-based interceptors similar to the KEI in performance were also examined, and it was found that these could not engage solid-propelled missile threats headed to North America with sufficient sea room to keep the launch platform itself from attack.
Space-based systems for boost-phase defense are not geographically constrained and have worldwide coverage within their inclined orbits. However, the number of satellites needed is governed by the laws governing orbital dynamics, as discussed in Chapter 2. The resulting high cost of placing a constellation of sufficient size in orbit is noted above, and, as Figure 4-1 illustrates, even the least ambitious capability costs an order of magnitude more to acquire and sustain than any other BMD system. Specifically, it is important to recognize the break in scale for the O&S costs of space-based boost-phase defense in Figure 4-1, which shows that O&S cost is twice the cost of acquiring such a system.
Finally, the operational and technical limitations of an airborne laser (ABL) system are discussed in Chapter 2. In short, because ABL’s laser range is limited, it has little operational utility even if it is less expensive. Furthermore, the limitation of range is fundamental, and no incremental improvements to the laser will affect this limitation in any significant way.
Of the non-boost-phase defense systems shown in Table 4-2, the Aegis program appears to be well executed. While the SPY-1 shipboard radar limits the autonomous performance of a single vessel, the implementation of launch on remote (LOR) mitigates that problem. The SM-3 Block IIA missile—the first to use a 21-in. second-stage motor—is unlikely to meet the expectations for performance improvements vis-à-vis the Block IB, and that has led to the consideration of a possible larger diameter Block IIB, which is still in the trade-offs stage.
PAC-3, THAAD, and Aegis are on track for providing defense capabilities for U.S. forces and allies outside Europe.2 Moreover, THAAD and PAC-3 appear to also be well-executed programs although, as noted later, the medium extended air defense system (MEADS) acquisition radar is a good candidate for addition to the PAC-3 because it would allow the Patriot radar to concentrate on the fire control task. In addition, THAAD’s interceptor would perform better if it took greater advantage of its radar capability.
In examining the present and proposed U.S. BMD systems, it is important to compare the sensors needed to execute the four defense missions discussed in this report. Costs are provided below, followed by the values and limitations of sensors supporting BMD missions.
Twenty-Year Life-Cycle Costs
Like Figure 4-1, which showed the LCCs for boost and non-boost alternatives, Figure 4-2 shows the 20-yr LCCs for each of the sensor systems considered either in place or to be acquired for supporting the various BMD interceptors and alternatives. Sunk investment costs already incurred for each sensor or heritage sensor system through FY 2009 are shown below the black horizontal line in black.
Figure 4-2 displays two key messages. The first is that the United States has invested in and is continuing to spend a great deal of money on a space-based infrared system (SBIRS) constellation with the full operational capability to detect and track boosters and predict their impacts quite accurately. The second is that having spent or committed the money for acquiring and sustaining a constellation of SBIRS satellites for the next 20 years, we can buy and support all the recommended additional supporting sensors for all missions for less than the total LCC of the proposed Precision Tracking and Surveillance System (PTSS), which, as will be discussed later, adds little if any value to support the real needs of missile defense. If PTSS is justified for another reason, that reason has not been shared with the committee.
With respect to the second message, it is important to note that SBIRS is a very important sensor suite for missile defense as well as for tactical warning and attack assessment. This successor to the Defense Support Program (DSP) is now partially operational, with two payloads on host satellites in highly elliptical orbit
2For defending South Korea and even Guam, it was found that the boost-phase trajectories were so low that only a system like THAAD, with its high endo- and low exoatmospheric capability, based in South Korea might be able to engage hostile missiles during their boost phase. Here, ships with Aegis during the late midcourse phase or THADD during terminal phases are the best defense for Guam, Okinawa, and Japan because of proximity.
FIGURE 4-2 Twenty-year LCCs for sensors for U.S. boost-phase and non-boost phase alternatives. Note that (1) the 20-yr LCC estimate for SBIRS includes O&S costs of the replenishment GEO satellites and host satellites with HEO payloads and associated launches needed to sustain the 4 + 2 constellation with an average expected on-orbit life of 10 years per satellite; (2) the 20-yr LCC estimate for Precision Tracking and Surveillance System (PTSS) includes the O&S cost of the replenishment satellites and launches needed to sustain the constellation based on an average expected on-orbit life of 7 years per satellite. HEO, high Earth orbit; GEO, geostationary Earth orbit; GBX, ground-based X-band radar; STSS, space tracking and surveillance system; FOC, full operational capability.
and the first geosynchronous orbit (GEO) satellite, which was recently launched and is in position undergoing checkout. The second GEO is in ground checkout. These sensors have a greater frame rate than the venerable DSP satellites, which are nearing the end of their life.
SBIRS is important for almost all defense configurations because in most cases it is the first detector and tracker of a threat missile, particularly those launched from the interior of a country beyond the horizon of any radar. While its tracking precision requirement is based on strategic warning and assessment impact prediction, it is sufficient to cue other threat acquisition radars that are organic to defense systems. In fact the data are good enough to commit boost-phase interceptors where time is critical as well as robust midcourse interceptors, although, as will be shown, the committee recommends a second independent confirmation before the midcourse interceptors are committed. SBIRS also cues regional defenses to reduce the burden on their radar search capabilities, allowing radar resources to perform other intercept support functions.
The next section discusses the value and limitations of each of these existing or proposed sensors to support BMD in the various missions.
Value and Limitations of Sensors Supporting BMD Missions
X-Band Radars: FBX, GBR, GBX, SBX
Equally important for defense of CONUS and the phased adaptive defense deployment for Europe, the Middle East, and northeast Asia are the family of X-band radars that have been developed. Ground-based radar (GBR), developed for and organic to the THAAD system (in this case, AN/TPY-2), is being deployed in the Middle East as part of THAAD and also in stand-alone form, called the FBX. The AN/TPY-2 is a very powerful and versatile sensor not only for THAAD but also as a remote sensor to hand over track and discrimination data to other defense systems. The FBX, which is a THAAD radar with some additional communication for netting with other defense elements, is being deployed in Japan and is anticipated to be part of the European deployment.
The current early warning radars at Thule, Greenland; Clear, Alaska; and Fylingdales, United Kingdom, are lower bandwidth UHF radars that were developed and deployed during the Cold War and have been upgraded to varying degrees. They can detect ICBM threats but have limited ability to discern and track what is in a threat complex. The Pave Paws radars at Otis Air Force Base in Massachusetts and at Clear, Alaska, are designed more to detect and track submarine-launched ballistic missiles but are still limited in their ability to image. A third Pave Paws radar, at Beal Air Force Base, California, is still active and represents a large investment by MDA; however, it has very limited operational utility against intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) due to its location. While all these radars can be used to commit midcourse interceptors that have sufficient onboard sensing, autonomy, and divert capability to acquire and parse the threat complex during fly-out, they offer little help in discrimination of decoys or other countermeasures.
Accordingly, the GBX radars shown in Figure 4-2, which are X-band radars with longer range, should be placed at these locations (i.e., at Thule, Clear, Fylingdales, and Otis) and at Grand Forks, North Dakota, adjacent to the existing radar installations. To avoid the need for developing a new radar capable of detecting and tracking threat objects in excess of 3,000 km, it is recommended that (1) the SBX sea-based radar be moved to Adak, possibly placing that radar on its turntable ashore, and (2) a new variant we call “GBX” be created by stacking two TPY-2 radar arrays one on top of the other and integrating their coherent-beam-forming electronics and software to provide twice the power and twice the aperture X-band radar with a 120 degree by 90 degree field of view. These GBX radars mounted on azimuth turntables would be in fixed installations and would provide, in concert with existing TPY-2s and FBXs, almost continuous coverage
of potential threats from North Korea to the United States or from Iran to the United States and Europe.
One of the benefits of this approach is that it takes advantage of the learning curve of transmit/receive modules, which are a large part of the cost of a radar. It does not, however, take advantage of any next-generation technological advances, which invariably raises the price of these devices.
The Aegis shipboard SPY-1 B/D S-band radar was designed as an air defense radar but also performs well against shorter range or large-cross-section ballistic missile threats provided it is cued from some forward sensor. Its value for both fleet defense and theater-level defense lies in its mobility and endurance on station. All current and projected SM-3 interceptors are capable of outreaching the ship’s radar yet depend on the radar for discrimination support, guidance updates, and two-way data flow. The radar is, however, limited by its frequency in midcourse discrimination capability. To get around the radar performance limitation against high-velocity small-cross-section threats, the Aegis system relies on cooperative engagement handovers from other up-range Aegis ships or another forward-based sensor such as a TPY-2. This is referred to as LOR capability, allowing an earlier interceptor launch against longer range threats.
The airborne infrared (ABIR) sensor mounted on an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is currently being evaluated for providing acquisition and track data for midcourse intercepts, presumably when there is no forward radar available. Two sensor platforms are required for stereo measurement. Because their range is limited by the altitude of the UAV, looking above the clouds and the IR-radiating atmosphere, the number required and their vulnerability become an issue. However, at least one version is being field tested. The rationale for this concept as presented to the committee was never made clear, particularly how just two sensors on station would deal with several missiles launched at short intervals. If a forward-based radar can also view the interceptor as it flies out, then it could take over a communication with the interceptor until its intercept is complete. This is known as engage on remote (EOR) and allows the interceptor to fly beyond the range of the SPY-1 radar.
Precision Tracking and Surveillance System
Finally, the PTSS is the latest in a series of supporting sensor systems proposed by MDA and its predecessors to provide midcourse tracking and discrimination to support missile defense constructs. These systems, which originated in
the 1980s, included Brilliant Eyes, SBIRS low, the space tracking and surveillance system (STSS), and others and were aimed at making satellites in low Earth orbit responsible for tracking the threats and discriminating among the threat objects after their powered flight. The idea was to provide a very small target handover volume to an interceptor with a homing kinetic KV that could be small and would have limited onboard sensor, processing, and divert capability. Two experimental STSS prototypes were eventually built; they have been in orbit for 2 or 3 years and are reported to have successfully observed missile flights.
Conceptually, by putting more capable sensing and processing on a relatively small number of satellites rather than on a much larger number of interceptors, overall system costs could be reduced. The fewest satellites needed would be approximately 24 in inclined orbits, and even then the sensor ranges required for the concept to be effective were great, which made the discrimination problem more difficult.
The rationale for PTSS was never explained to the committee in any coherent way. It was said that SBIRS could not provide adequate cuing for defense radars, which does not jibe with what the committee knows about SBIRS capability. Moreover, PTSS was said to keep the objects in view for a long time, from before deployment throughout midcourse flight, providing midcourse discrimination even though it is generally too far away to do so and is limited to viewing above Earth’s limb. The committee was told that the PTSS was a 9-ball equatorial constellation with a 7-yr life that has since grown to a 12-ball constellation. (The system is discussed in much greater detail in the classified Appendix J). The life of each satellite is now 5 years, which means that it will have to be replaced three times over the 20-yr period.3 Here, the committee chose to use a cost in the middle of the range (see Appendix E).
As previously noted, one of the key messages in Figure 4-2 is the high cost of PTSS compared to the costs of the other supporting sensors for BMD—that is, having invested in acquiring and sustaining a constellation of SBIRS satellites for the next 20 years, or having committed such an investment, the United States can buy and support all the recommended additional sensors for less than the total LCC of PTSS. Given these high costs, the utility of PTSS was analyzed in depth. The findings of this analysis are presented in the next section.
PTSS appears to be a solution looking for a problem. It has been proposed that PTSS would provide detection and track data for early intercept by Aegis interceptors for fleet protection off Taiwan and for the phased adaptive Euro-
3Also, in a 2011 Congressional Budget Office report entitled Reducing the Deficit: Spending and Revenue Options, it is stated that “Construction of replacement [PTSS] satellites would begin within the next decade if the design life of the PTSS satellite was less than seven years.”
pean deployment. Unanswered is a question that could be politically sensitive—namely, why one or two THAAD battery radars on Taiwan would not provide better data, since in realistic CONOPS for that scenario, it is unlikely that any Aegis ships would venture close enough to effect an intercept in the ascent or early midcourse phase. Instead they would more likely be east of Taiwan with the rest of the fleet and would have to engage in late midcourse. While a cue will be needed for Aegis, a THAAD radar on Taiwan could acquire and track small cross-section targets much further away than the distance across the Taiwan (Formosa) Strait. This would seem a more logical, to say nothing of a much lower cost, solution. The Shariki, Japan, FBX radar provides a very accurate track of threats from North Korea to Hawaii and Alaska when propagated forward. Similarly, in Europe the FBX TPY-2 radar can provide a better cue, track, and discrimination capability than PTSS for the phased adaptive deployment of Aegis ashore.
The committee sympathizes with MDA’s desire for its own space-based observation capabilities, because until recently, the Air Force paid insufficient attention to the needs of missile defense in its space-based surveillance programs. Publicity surrounding the great success of STSS in observing birth-to-death flight of missiles notwithstanding, PTSS utility is very limited.
Moreover, setting aside its questionable utility, the proposed constellation is very expensive compared to other alternatives. To test this conclusion, an analysis was done of an ICBM launch out of North Korea toward Hawaii using only the FBX radar in Shariki, Japan, cued by SBIRS or DSP, to determine the handover volume propagated some 600 sec forward to acquisition by a GBX in Kauai with no other sensor help. This analysis is provided in classified Appendix K, and the results confirmed the committee’s view that even in this long-timeline case with minimal radar coverage, the forward-based FBX or THAAD radars together with the recommended version of GBX are adequate for any handover and provide significant support for midcourse discrimination, which PTSS cannot provide.
PTSS appears to have a more limited set of objectives: namely, it focuses on increasing the coverage of Aegis SM-3 interceptors by providing accurate and more continuous tracking of the threat objects during their midcourse flight. Presumably the stereo track accuracy from the satellites would be suitable for launching an interceptor from the Aegis ship or shore base well before its radar could acquire the target. Relayed in real time to the Aegis radar, these data could then be transmitted by the SPY-1 to the interceptor (LOR) or even by another radar (EOR) during its fly-out as part of its guidance function.
For the BMD missions examined in this report, the Aegis system plays an important role in defending deployed forces and allies and friends and in defending against a limited or accidental attack. The Aegis system also plays a limited role with respect to U.S. homeland defense, Hawaii in particular. In most of these roles, LOR or EOR will be important.
In the PTSS construct, the tracking data would come from stereo-optical data available from several of 12 satellites in equatorial medium altitude (1,500 km)
orbit, 30 degrees apart in longitude. At last check, these satellites would be cued on where to look by some sensor, presumably SBIRS. These cold-body-tracking satellites must look above hard Earth and its limb for threats launched from various latitudes, from 31 degrees to about 41 degrees North. There is one exception, the antiaccess scenario around Taiwan, where threat trajectories could be at latitudes as low as 22 degrees North and visible for less time above Earth’s limb.
Figure 4-3, Figure 4-4, and Figure 4-5 show several notional trajectories for threats fired from the Middle East to Western Europe as seen from three PTSS satellites at a single point in time.4 While the satellites move about 90 degrees during the duration of these notional trajectories, there are always three of them viewing the notional trajectories from approximately these locations. Figure 4-3 is from a satellite passing above 0 degrees longitude (Greenwich meridian); Figure 4-4 is from a satellite passing above 30 degrees East longitude; and Figure 4-5 is from a satellite passing above 60 degrees East longitude. In short, all three satellites could see large portions of these notional trajectories above Earth’s limb, with two of the three seeing the threats before burnout, and would be generally looking at targets at slant ranges 3,000 km to 7,500 km away, thus making the system’s value for discrimination negligible (see classified Appendix J for greater detail).
Tracking and imaging of the threat from a cued, forward-based AN/TPY-2 X-band radar handed over to the suite of recommended X-band radars at the early warning radar sites provide excellent data on the size of the raids and also provide initial threat tracking discrimination data; they do this at an LCC between one-third and one-fourth the acquisition cost and the LCC of PTSS. While PTSS is a hedge against the inability to negotiate a forward site for this AN/TPY-2 radar, the value added by PTSS is very low and comes at a very high cost (see Appendix E and classified Appendix J for greater detail). For example, island areas, such as Hawaii, Okinawa, and Guam are best defended against missile attack by Aegis in late midcourse with a THAAD battery providing improved radar coverage and discrimination support and a second shot capability if warranted.
Major Finding 9: The proposed Precision Tracking and Surveillance System (PTSS) does not appear to be justified in view of its estimated life-cycle cost versus its contribution to defense effectiveness. Specifically, the justification provided to the committee for developing this new space-based sensor system was questionable, and the committee’s analysis shows that its objective can be better accomplished by deployment of forward-based X-band radars based on the AN/TPY-2 system design at much lower total-life-cycle cost.
4Figures 4-3 to 4-5 were generated from the committee’s analysis using Google Earth. ©2011 Google, Map Data©2011 Tele Atlas.
FIGURE 4-5 PTSS view of notional 5,600 km IRBM as the satellite passes over 60 degrees East.
• The AN/TPY-2 radar already developed for THAAD and already deployed can be exploited to provide the required capabilities for all foreseeable defense missions.
• Taking advantage of the existing manufacturing base and the learning curve as more units are built would be a very cost-effective way of supporting the recommendations in this report.
Given the foregoing assessments of the feasibility of boost-phase defense and of system alternatives in light of the objectives of the U.S. administration with respect to providing ballistic missile defense capabilities both abroad and at home, it is evident that ballistic missile defense is at a critical turning point. To that end, this section of the report provides specific recommendations based on the committee’s analysis and the findings in Chapters 2, 3, and 4. In short, the committee recommends that no more money be spent on boost-phase defense except for continued R&D on laser technologies that could be useful for other missile defense purposes. Indeed, the committee agrees with the termination of
the KEI program and the transitioning of the ABL program to a test bed. The committee’s assessment of the fragility and exceedingly high cost of space-based interceptors and of the relatively meager benefit of what they provide leads it to recommend that they not be considered further.
Major Recommendation 1: The Department of Defense should not invest any more money or resources in systems for boost-phase missile defense. Boost-phase missile defense is not practical or cost effective under real-world conditions for the foreseeable future.
• All boost-phase intercept (BPI) systems suffer from severe reach-versus-time-available constraints. This is true for kinetic kill interceptors launched from Earth’s surface, from airborne platforms, or from space. It is also true for a directed-energy (laser) weapon in the form of the airborne laser (ABL), where the reach is limited by problems of propagating enough beam over long distances in the atmosphere and focusing it onto a small spot, even with full use of sophisticated adaptive optical techniques.
• While there may be special cases of a small country such as North Korea launching relatively slow burning liquid-propellant ICBMs in which some boost-phase intercepts are possible, the required basing locations for interceptors are not likely to be politically acceptable.5 This recommendation is not intended to preclude funding of generic research and development such as the ABL test bed, which is currently involved in boost-phase intercept, or funding of adaptive optics concepts or advances in high-power lasers that may be useful for other applications.
Recognizing that boost-phase defense is not practical or feasible for any of the missions that it was asked to consider, the committee believes it is important to examine the gain in effectiveness versus LCCs for non-boost-phase defense alternatives as they evolve over time. Figure 4-6 illustrates the evolutionary pathway of each non-boost-phase defense alternative for each of the four defense missions, what they buy in effectiveness, and the incremental LCC implications for pursuing each pathway. In this figure, there are two basic evolution pathways for the specified missions. The first path, starting at the left column—defense of U.S. deployed forces and host nations—is also applicable to defense of friends
5For example, while a North Korean ICBM aimed at Hawaii and some other Pacific locations could be intercepted in boost phase by a properly located Aegis ship, the United States cannot realistically or prudently expect that BPIs intended for defense against North Korean or Iranian attacks can be stationed in Russian or Chinese airspace or over other nonallied territory (or where overflights of such territory would be necessary to reach on-station locations), at least short of a full resolution of Russian and Chinese concerns about U.S. missile defense and agreement on extensive cooperation in such defense.
FIGURE 4-6 Effectiveness gain versus LCC. PAA, Phased Adaptive Approach.
and allies. The second evolutionary path, which starts in column two, shows the alternatives for homeland defense.
For each of the four defense missions illustrated in Figure 4-6 (one, for instance, is “Homeland Defense Against Iran and Others”), the effectiveness of a particular non-boost-phase defense alternative is rated by color (see the key at the upper right of the figure); 20-yr LCCs are shown along the vertical axis. These costs include the cost of supporting sensors to reach and sustain the end state, represented by the points where the lines for each defense alternative terminate. They do not, however, include PTSS or ABIR being considered for later introduction into the PAA.6Figure 4-6 also displays the costs for each defense alternative from its inception (see data in “Sunk Costs” at the bottom of the figure).
6The source data for these defense alternatives are provided in the classified Appendixes I and J.
The current buildout and sustainment path for Aegis SM-3 IA and B, THAAD, and PAC-3 is shown in Figure 4-6 as a solid black line (see the line for the mission “Regional Defense of U.S. Territories, Deployed Forces, and Host Nations”). When THAAD and PAC-3 are completed, they will also inherently provide the initial mission capability for Phases 1 and 2 of PAA (denoted by the black horizontal arrow extending across to the black X in the “Defense of Friends and Allies” mission). Phase 3 of PAA—which adds Aegis ashore, the Block IIA interceptor, a forward-based TPY-2 or FBX radar, and other capabilities—enhances coverage in Europe and adds approximately $12 billion in 20-yr costs (see the solid blue arrow extending to the blue X under the “Defense of Friends and Allies” column). However, Phase 3 of the European PAA is not designed to defend the U.S. homeland.
In the second set of evolutionary pathways for homeland defense, the current buildout and sustainment for GMD to complete and maintain the 30 interceptors at FGA and at VAFB are shown by another solid black line (see black line in the “North American Defense Against North Korea” mission). The effectiveness of this deployment against North Korean threats is limited, and it is not given credit for any significant ability in the mission “Homeland Defense Against Iran and Others” because it is severely limited in defending the eastern United States. At the top of the current GMD buildout path, the dashed black arrow represents an alternative third site for existing GMD interceptors in the northeast United States. This alternative provides single-shot coverage of the eastern United States against threats from the Middle East, with some added benefit against North Korean threats, indicated by the horizontal dashed black arrow toward the “North America Defense Against North Korea” column. Because the current GMD is a single-shot system, it would still be limited in effectiveness. As an alternative with approximately the same life-cycle costs, Phase 4 of PAA is shown as a blue dashed path to the blue squares. This alternative is aimed at providing additional early midcourse flight shot opportunities from Poland against Middle East threats launched at the United States. To be effective in this role, the Poland-based interceptor would have to have a fly-out velocity greater than 5.5 km/sec.
One of the more important points in Figure 4-6 pertains to Phase 4 of PAA: Specifically, it is an expensive solution for improving homeland defense yet limited in effectiveness. The committee’s analysis shows that notional interceptors with a fly-out velocity greater than 4.5 km/sec benefit neither European defense nor other Aegis defense missions. Therefore, Phase 4 of PAA, which is the SM-3 Block IIB higher performance interceptor, has value only for an early shot opportunity for homeland defense, provided it has sufficient burnout velocity to preclude being overflown, but comes at a high acquisition and life-cycle cost. An alternative—an evolved GMD system—provides a more effective homeland defense solution and avoids any need for Phase 4 of PAA (see violet dotted arrows for GMD-E).
The message of Figure 4-6 should be clear. Specifically, BMD for forward-deployed forces (i.e., Aegis, PAC-3, THAAD) appears to be on the right track, and the current GMD and PAA Phase 4 for BMD of the United States are headed on two independent paths that are costly and, for U.S. homeland defense purposes, of limited effectiveness. For this reason, the committee recommends an evolved GMD system that provides full shoot-look-shoot (SLS) capability and is substantially more effective than the other potential homeland defense additions to the current GMD buildout. While this path has a 10 percent greater LCC because of the cost of acquiring GBX, it provides robust but still limited defense of the United States and Canada against threats from any source. It is also decoupled from decisions on the NATO defense configuration. Moreover, it finesses the issue of large interceptors close to Russian territory.
A detailed discussion of this evolved path for GMD is provided in Chapter 5. In short, the recommended approach buys more existing supporting sensors and uses them more effectively than would developing any new sensors.
The committee’s major recommendations with respect to non-boost-phase systems are as follows.
Major Recommendation 2: The Missile Defense Agency should reinstitute an aggressive, balanced midcourse discrimination research and development effort focused on the synergy between X-band radar data and concurrent interceptor observation while closing on the threat. Such an R&D effort should have the following attributes among others:
• Recognition that discrimination is strongly dependent on BMD system architecture, and known synergies should be exploited.
• A continuing program of test and analysis should be implemented to maintain the technical capacity that will be needed to support an adequate level of discrimination as new countermeasures are developed and deployed.
• A serious effort to gather and understand data from past and future flight tests and experiments (including flights of U.S. missiles) from the full range of sensors and to make full use of the extensive data collected from past experiments to generate robust discrimination techniques and algorithms.
• The committee believes that the effort required for success in this endeavor does not need to be overlarge but does require that high-quality expertise be brought to bear. The annual budget outlay, if planned correctly, can be modest compared to current expenditures.
Major Recommendation 3: The Missile Defense Agency should strengthen its systems analysis and engineering capability in order to do a better job of assess-
ing system performance and evaluating new initiatives before significant funding is committed. Cost-benefit analysis should be central to that capability.
• In addition to terminating U.S. boost-phase missile defense systems, MDA should terminate the PTSS unless a more convincing case can be made for its efficacy for the mission that it is supposed to carry out.
• PTSS provides no information that a combination of the SBIRS and the proposed suite of X-band radars with the interceptor sensors will not provide better and at lower cost both initially and over the life cycle. Moreover, as proposed, PTSS contributes little if anything to midcourse discrimination.
Major Recommendation 4: As a means to defend deployed U.S. forces and allies from short-, medium-, and intermediate-range ballistic missile threats, the Missile Defense Agency and the Services should continue investing in non-boost systems such as Aegis, THAAD, and PAC-3, with continued attention to architecture integration of sensors with shooters (sometimes referred to as an integrated battle command system, or IBCS), specifically to implement launch-on-remote (LOR) and engage-on-remote (EOR) firing doctrines.
• EOR is essential for effective coverage of Europe from a small number—say, two or three—of interceptor sites.
• Inputs to the IBCS already include those from DSP, SBIRS, and upgraded UHF early warning radars. Maximum use should be made of these data to relieve X-band radars of unnecessary volume or fan search functions, permitting them to concentrate radar resources on tracking and discrimination at the longer ranges permitted when the radars are properly cued to the targets. This involves little or no new investment. Data latency is a potential problem for the IBCS that should not be ignored.
Major Recommendation 5: As a means to provide adequate coverage for defense of the U.S. homeland against likely developments in North Korea and Iran over the next decade or two at an affordable and efficient 20-yr life-cycle cost, the Missile Defense Agency should implement an evolutionary approach to the GMD system, as recommended in this report.
• Chapter 5 recommends an evolutionary path from the present GMD system to a system having substantially greater capability and a lower cost than a simple expansion of the present GMD system. The recommended path builds on existing developments and technologies working together to make a more effective system. The concepts are not new and have been well known for at least 40 years. Existing advances in optical and radar technology will enable its realization.
• The evolutionary approach would employ smaller, lower cost, faster
burning, two-stage interceptors building on development work by MDA under the KEI program carrying heavier but more capable kill vehicles (KVs).
• The evolutionary approach would employ much longer concurrent threat observation by both X-band radars and the interceptor KV’s onboard sensor over the entire engagement. The importance of the synergy between these concurrent observations and the SLS battle space in maximizing midcourse discrimination effectiveness cannot be overemphasized.
• An additional interceptor site with the new evolved GBI in CONUS together with the recommended radar additions provide SLS coverage of virtually the entire United States and Canada against the sort of threat that can prudently be expected to emerge from North Korea or Iran over the coming decade or so. The recommended evolution would add one additional site in the United States in the Northeast, together with additional X-band radars to more effectively protect the eastern United States and Canada, particularly against Iranian ICBM threats should they emerge.
• This improved capability obviates the need for early intercept from bases in Europe, unless they are required for European defense.
• Defense of Hawaii should be provided by Aegis with launch-on-remote capability: THAAD would provide a second intercept opportunity as backup for the Aegis engagement. Hawaii is very small target area for threats from North Korea, Iran, or any other country and can be covered by one Aegis ship located west of the islands. By contrast, modifying the GMD system to provide effective defense of Hawaii against an evolved threat would add substantial complexity and cost.
• Maximize the opportunity for observing the threat complex during most of the threat trajectory until intercept. Addition of stacked TPY-2 radars are recommended for this purpose.
• Make effective use of the high-accuracy data from SBIRS to cue forward X-band radar and concurrent IR sensors on the interceptor kill vehicle, which together contribute most of the discrimination capability.
• The ability to create, communicate, and interpret target object maps (TOMs) among the radar, the battle manager, and the interceptor during the entire engagement—typically hundreds of seconds for a midcourse intercept—increases the probability of successful discrimination. The resulting TOMs with object rankings should be exchanged frequently with the interceptor kill vehicle during its fly-out. This exchange requires taking advantage of the radar’s large aperture and power to close that communication link over longer distances. The TOM’s data exchange ability builds on the capabilities demonstrated by programs such as NOE and ERIS and additionally builds on the MDA Integrated Flight Test Plan for GMD, Aegis, and the THAAD interceptor that uses sensor elements with the addition of downlinks from the interceptor to the BMC3 element.