National Missile Defense
National Missile Defense
The objective of the National Missile Defense (NMD) program is to develop and maintain the option to deploy a cost effective, operationally effective, and Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty compliant system that will protect the United States against limited ballistic missile threats, including accidental or unauthorized launches or Third World threats.
The primary mission of National Missile Defense is defense of the United States (all 50 states) against a threat of a limited strategic ballistic missile attack from a rogue nation. Such a system would also provide some capability against a small accidental or unauthorized launch of strategic ballistic missiles from more nuclear capable states. The means to accomplish the NMD mission are as follows:
- Field an NMD system that meets the ballistic missile threat at the time
of a deployment decision.
- Detect the launch of enemy ballistic missile(s) and track.
- Continue tracking of ballistic missile(s) using ground based radars.
- Engage and destroy the ballistic missile warhead above the earth’s
atmosphere by force of impact.
The National Missile Defense Program was originally a technology development effort. In 1996, at the direction of the Secretary of Defense, NMD was designated a Major Defense Acquisition Program and transitioned to an acquisition effort.
Concurrently, BMDO was tasked with developing a deployable system within three years. This three-year development period culminated in 2000, and the Department of Defense began a Deployment Readiness Review in June 2000. Using that review, President Clinton was to make a deployment decision based on four criteria: the potential ICBM threat to the United States; the technical readiness of the NMD system; the projected cost of the NMD system; and potential environmental impact of the NMD system. Rather than make a decision, President Clinton deferred the deployment decision to his successor. The White House in choosing this action cited several factos. Among them were the lack of test under realistic conditions, the absence of testing of the booster rocket, and lingering questions over the system's ability to deal with countermeasures. The deployment decision now rests with President George W. Bush, who is reexamining the Clinton NMD system along with a variety of other proposals. In the meantime, work is continuing on technology development for the NMD system.
The NMD system would be a fixed, land-based, non-nuclear missile defense system
with a space-based detection system, consisting of five elements:
All elements of the NMD system would work together to respond to a ballistic missile directed against the United States.
- Ground Based Interceptors (GBIs)
- Battle Management, Command, Control, and Communications
(BMC3), which includes:
- Battle Management, Command, and Control (BMC2), and
- In-Flight Interceptor Communications System (IFICS)
- X-Band Radars (XBRs)
- Upgraded Early Warning Radar (UEWR)
- Defense Support Program satellites/Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS)
The Ground Based Inteceptor is the “weapon” of the NMD system. Its mission is to intercept incoming ballistic missile warheads outside the earth’s atmosphere (exoatmospheric) and destroy them by force of the impact. During flight, the GBI is sent information from the NMD BMC2 through the IFICS to update the location of the incoming ballistic missile, enabling the GBI onboard sensor system to identify and home-in on the assigned target. The GBI element would include the interceptor and associated launch and support equipment, silos, facilities, and personnel. The GBI missile has two main components: an EKV and solid propellant boosters. Each GBI site would be adequate in size to initially accommodate 20 interceptor missiles, with expansion possible to as many as 100 interceptors. The GBI would be a dormant missile that would remain in the underground launch silo until launch. Launches would occur only in defense of the United States from a ballistic missile attack. There would be no flight testing of the missiles at the NMD deployment site.
The NMD Battle Management, Command and Control (BMC2), a subelement of the BMC3 element, is the “brains” of the NMD system. In the event of a launch against the United States, the NMD system would be controlled and operated through the BMC2 subelement. The BMC2 subelement providesextensive decision support systems, battle management systems, battle management displays, and situation awareness information. Surveillance satellites and ground radars locate targets and communicate tracking information to battle managers, which process the information and communicate target assignments to interceptors. The BMC2 subelement operations would consist mostly of data processing and management functions associated with the NMD system and function as the centralized point for readiness, monitoring, and maintenance
The NMD In-Flight Interceptor Communications System (IFICS) is a subelement of the BMC3 element and would be geographically
distributed ground stations that provide communications links to the GBI for in-flight target and status information between the GBI and the BMC2. Up to 14
IFICS (7 pairs) would be required to support the NMD system. The IFICS
would consist of a radio transmitter/receiver enclosed in a 5.8-meter (19-foot)
diameter inflatable radome adjacent to the equipment shelters. The IFICS site
would require no permanent onsite support personnel. Personnel would only be
required when the IFICS needs maintenance.
The X-band / Ground Based Radars (XBR) would be ground based, multi-function radars. For NMD, they would perform tracking, discrimination, and kill assessments of incoming ballistic missiles. The radars use high frequency and advanced radar signal processing technology to improve target resolution, which permits the radar to more accurately discriminate between closely-spaced objects. The radar would provide data from earlier phases of a ballistic missiles trajectory and real-time continuous tracking data to the BMC2. The site would include a radar mounted on its pedestal and associated control and maintenance facility,a power generation facility, and a 150-meter (492-foot) controlled area. The radar would be radiating during a ballistic missile threat, testing, exercises, training, or when supporting collateral missions such as tracking space debris or a Space Shuttle mission.
The Upgraded Early Warning Radar (UEWR) are phased-array surveillance radars used to detect and track ballistic missiles targeted at the United States. Software upgrades to these existing early warning radars would provide the capability to support NMD surveillance requirements.
Existing Defense Support Program satellites provide the U.S. early-warning satellite capability. The satellites are comparatively simple, inertially fixed, geosynchronous earth orbit satellites with an unalterable scan pattern. Space Based Infrared System would replace the Defense Support Program satellites sometime in the next decade. NMD would use whichever system is in place when a deployment decision is made and can use a combination of the two if the transition is still in progress. SBIRS would be an element that future NMD systems would utilize. SBIRS is currently being developed by the Air Force independently of NMD as part of the early warning satellite systemupgrade which would replace the Defense
Support Program satellites. For the NMD program, the SBIRS constellation of sensor satellites would acquire and track ballistic missiles throughout their trajectory. This information would provide the earliest possible trajectory estimate to the BMC2 subelement.
NMD System Elements (236K) PDF
To meet the Capstone Requirements Document (CRD) requirements, the NMD
Joint Project Office (JPO) at BMDO has created a program to develop a defensive
system that will evolve through three levels of capability:
The relationship between these Capability performance requirements and the Capability system architectures continues to evolve. The 1999 Welch Report noted that the 2005 deployment, which with 100 interceptors would appear to be the C2 Architecture, was in fact focused on addressing the far less stressing C1 threat. The cost for the land-based NMD Capability 2 architecture with some 100
interceptors based in Alaska is about $13B to $14B for the post-FY97 RDT&E,
procurement and military construction.
As of early 2000 the NMD program goes beyond the original Capability 1, or "C1," architecture by developing an "Expanded C1" architecture to be capable of defending all 50 states against threats larger than the initial C1 architecture was designed to handle. The Expanded C1 deployment option builds on revised program guidance announced in 1999 year by the Secretary of Defense. For planning purposes, the Expanded C1 system will incorporate 100 ground-based interceptors based in Alaska and an advanced X-Band radar based at Shemya Island, also in Alaska. Initial Operational Capability (IOC) for the C1 architecture, consisting of 20 interceptors, will take place in 2005. The full 100 can be deployed by Fiscal Year 2007. This represents a two year delay from the plan outlined in 1999, under which the first 20 interceptors could have beend deployed by 2003, with 100 interceptors becoming operational by 2005.
- Capability 1 satisfies CRD Threshold requirements against unsophisticated threats. The Administration and the Congress want the option of fielding this capability within three years of a deployment decision. The system provides the required performance against an unsophisticated rogue-state threat at the Threshold level. The Threshold threat, the details of which are classified, is said to consist of an attack of five single-warhead missiles with unsophisticated decoys that could be discriminated, plus chaff, obscurant particles, flares, jammers, and other countermeasures.
- Capability 2 provides the required performance against any authorized, unauthorized, or accidental attack by sophisticated payloads at the Threshold level. The Threshold threat, the details of which are classified, is said to consist of an attack of five single-warhead missiles, each with either a few (about four) credible decoys that could not be descriminated [and would have to be intercepted], plus chaff, obscurant particles, flares, jammers, and other countermeasures.
- Capability 3 satisfies the CRD Objective. The system provides the required performance against any authorized, unauthorized, or accidental attack by sophisticated payloads at the Objective level. The Objective, the details of which are classified, is said to consist of an attack of twenty single-warhead missiles, each with either a few (perhaps as many as five) credible decoys that could not be descriminated [and would have to be intercepted], or a larger number of less sophisticated decoys that could be discriminated, plus chaff, obscurant particles, flares, jammers, and other countermeasures.
Notional Deployment Architectures
|Threat||simple penetration aids||sophisticated penetration aids|
|5 ICBMs with
25 ICBMs with
5 ICBMs with
5 warheads +
20 credible decoys
50 ICBMs with|
20 ICBMs with
20 warheads +
100 credible decoys
|GBI interceptors||20 Alaska||100 Alaska||125 Alaska|
125 Grand Forks
The NMD program is conducting a series of Integrated Flight Tests [IFT] to progressively demonstrate system capabilities. The target system is built by Sandia National Labs to replicate decoys that might be seen in threat systems Integrated Flight Tests 3 and 4 were originally planned to be conducted in 1998.
- IFT-1, on 17 January 1997, did not take place as planned when the Payload Launch Vehicle (PLV) carrying the EKV failed to launch from Kwajalein Missile Range. A a data-link malfunction between the PLV launcher and the ground control system which led to the ground control system aborting the launch prior to liftoff of the kill vehicle. A Multi-Service Launch System (MSLS) carrying target objects for the sensor test was successfully launched from Vandenberg AFB prior to the EKV launch abort, though no intercept of a target was to be attempted for the test.
- IFT-1A, on 07 July 1997, was a repeat of IFT-1 which BMDO claimed proved the ability of the Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV) sensor to identify and track objects in space. An intercept was not intended for this mission, which used a candidate infrared sensor built by Boeing. The claimed results of this test have been disputed by many experts.
- IFT-2, on 15 January 1998, proved the ability of the Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle sensor to identify and track objects in space. An intercept was not intended for this mission, which used a candidate infrared sensor built by Hughes (now Raytheon).
- IFT-3, on 02 October 1999, successfully demonstrated "hit to kill technology" to intercept and destroy the ballistic missile target. The target was simplied to include a single decoy, rather than the multiple decoys used in the two previous fly-by tests. Despite a failure in the star tracker, the inertial measurement unit [IMU] of the interceptor oriented the EKV [built by Boeing], which detected the decoy and based on this detection subsequently detected the target warhead, which was destroyed on impact. Critics noted that in this test the decoy paradoxically made it possible for the kill vehicle to detect the warhead, whereas in a combat situation decoys would make detection of the warhead more difficult. The intercept used representatives or prototypes of other elements in a "shadow" mode. They did not provide information to the interceptor as they would during a full system test or during an actual missile attack.
- IFT-4, on 18 January 2000, failed to intercept the target due to a failure of the EKV infrared homing sensors' cooling system [built Raytheon / Hughes] a few seconds before the planned intercept. This was the first test that integrated other elements of the NMD system into the actual test scenario.
- IFT-5, on 7 July 2000, was the first Integrated System Test featuring all NMD elements in the initial capability except for the interceptor booster. The test failed when the EKV did not separate from the surrogate booster used. As well, the test decoy failed to inflate.
- IFT-6, which was originally supposed to happen before the Deployment Readiness Review, is now scheduled shortly thereafter. The planned test in late July 2000 slipped to the Fall of 2000 and is now scheduled for late 2001. This test will be the second Integrated System Test of all NMD elements in the initial capability except for the interceptor booster.
- IFT-7 was scheduled for early 2001. This test was initially scheduled to bes the first test in which the operational Ground Based Interceptor booster can be used to launch the EKV. However, as of mid-2000 this event had been slipped to the following test, IFT-8.
- IFT-8 was scheduled for mid-2001. As of mid-2000 this test is the first test in which the operational Ground Based Interceptor booster can be used to launch the EKV, replacing the stand-in Payload Launch Vehicle (PLV) used in earlier tests.
- IFT-9 is scheduled for late 2001.
- IFT-10 is scheduled for early 2002.
- IFT-11 is scheduled for mid-2002.
- IFT-12 is scheduled for late 2002.
- IFT-13 is scheduled for early 2003. This test is the first test in which the operational Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV) can be used.
- IFT-14 is scheduled for mi-2003.
- IFT-15 is scheduled for 2003.
- IFT-16 is scheduled for 2004.
- IFT-17 is scheduled for 2004.
- IFT-18 is scheduled for 2004.
- IFT-19 is scheduled for 2005.
In mid 1993, the Department of Defense (DoD) conducted a Bottom-Up Review (BUR) to select the strategy, force structure, and modernization programs for America's defense in the post-Cold War era. With the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the threat to the U.S. homeland from a deliberate or accidental ballistic missile attack by states of the former Soviet Union (FSU) or the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) was judged to be highly unlikely. In addition, the ability of Third World countries to acquire or develop a long range ballistic missile capability in the near future was considered uncertain. As a prudent approach for responding to this uncertain threat, the Department pursued a technology readiness strategy for National Missile Defense (NMD) to develop and maintain the ability to deploy ballistic missile
defenses for the United States should a threat emerge.
Following the 1994 elections, some in the new Congress began to call for the rapid
acceleration of national missile defense development, leading to deployment of a capable
defense system as soon as possible. This shift toward early deployment reflected a general
sense that the risk of the rapid emergence of a ballistic missile threat to the United States by determined rogue actors was becoming increasingly acute. BMDO responded by creating a "Tiger Team" to develop an NMD architecture capable of being deployed at the earliest possible date to counter the developing rogue nation ballistic missile threat. The threat scenario addressed by the Tiger Team was the acquisition of SS-25-like technology by Libya. The Tiger Team considered a number of NMD alternatives, including options to deploy a system as early as possible, if required. The initial architecture the Tiger Team considered was 20 Minuteman ICBMs -- retrofitted with kinetic kill vehicles -- at Grand Forks AFB, ND, supported by a network of existing Early Warning Radars (EWRs) operating with software upgrades to provide the necessary track information as an emergency response system.
In February 1996, the Department completed a comprehensive Ballistic Missile Defense Program Review that addressed changes that have occurred in the ballistic missile defense environment since the 1993 BUR. For the NMD program, the findings of this review resulted in an adjustment to the goal of the NMD program and a corresponding adjustment to the Future Years Defense Program which includes additional resources in FY96-FY98 for NMD. The revised goal of the NMD program is to develop, within three years, elements of an initial NMD system that could be deployed within three additional years after a deployment decision. This approach is commonly referred to as the NMD “3+3” program.
To achieve this goal, BMDO has initiated an NMD Deployment Readiness Program. In April 1996 the USD(A&T) initiated steps to designate NMD as an Acquisition Category (ACAT) 1D program and in July 1996 the program successfully completed its first Overarching Integrated Product Team (OIPT) review. The intent of the NMD Deployment Readiness Program is to position the U.S. to respond to a strategic missile threat as it emerges by shifting emphasis from technology readiness to deployment readiness. This approach focuses on demonstrating an NMD system level capability by FY99, and being able to deploy that capability within an additional three years, if required to do so by the threat. If no threat materializes at the end of the three year development period, evolutionary development will continue on a path towards an objective system capability and the program will continue to maintain the ability to deploy within three years after a decision is made to do so.
The NMD system is composed of several elements which are required to perform the key functions
involved in a ballistic missile defense engagement. The Ground Based Radar (GBR) and the Space
Based Infrared System (SBIRS) Low component (previously known as the Space and Missile Tracking System) provide the dual sensor phenomenology required to address the full spectrum of potential threats. In addition, Upgraded Early Warning Radars (UEWR) are candidate sensors in the event of an early NMD deployment within three years of the FY99 NMD integrated system test. SBIRS, which will provide midcourse tracking of targets, is currently managed and funded by the Air Force. The Ground Based Interceptor (GBI) is the weapon element that engages and destroys the threat. The Battle Management/Command, Control, and Communications (BM/C3) element provides engagement planning and human-in-control management of the engagement.
The formation of the United Missile Defense Company (UMDC), a joint venture
equally owned by Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and TRW, was announced on April 21, 1997.
The company submitted a proposal in response to an RFP issued by the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO) to conduct an NMD Lead System Integration (LSI) Concept Definition (CD) study.
The Lead Systems Integrator contractor has the responsibility to design, develop, test, integrate, and potentially deploy and sustain the National Missile Defense (NMD) system. The LSI integrates all NMD element development to include the Ground Based Interceptor (GBI), Battle Management Command, Control and Communications (BMC3), Ground Based Radar (GBR), Upgraded Early Warning Radar (UEWR), Forward Based X-Band Radar (FBXB), and the Spaced Based Infrared Sensor (SBIRS-Low) system when it becomes available.
On 25 April 1997 the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization announced that two contracts for the concept definition study phase of the National Missile Defense (NMD) Lead Systems
Integrator were awarded to United Missile Defense Company, Bethesda, MD, and Boeing North American Inc., Downey, CA. At the end of the initial contract period, one firm would be selected for award of a contract to serve as the Lead Systems Integrator for the NMD program, currently anticipated for April 1, 1998. The execution phase will include an Integrated System Test in 1999, and culminate in a Deployment Readiness Review in 2000.
In fiscal years 1996 through 1998, Congress authorized and appropriated a total of $1,174 million more than the President's budget requests for those years. The fiscal year 1999 funding estimate does not include amounts that will be needed beginning in fiscal year 2001 to develop system improvements to keep up with changes in the threat. About $765 million above the President's fiscal year 1999 budget estimate will be needed in fiscal years 2001 through 2003
Future NMD funding requirements depend on how the system is designed and when and where it will be deployed. The government and prime contractor have not yet agreed on a final system design, and the deployment schedule and location will not be known until at least
the fiscal year 2000 deployment review. To provide a basis for estimating near-term funding requirements, the program office prepared four different life-cycle cost estimates, based on two locations--one at Grand Forks, North Dakota, and the other in Alaska--and two capability levels--one available in fiscal year 2003 and the other in fiscal year 2006 [an initial operating capability would be established in fiscal year 2006, and the full operating capability would be achieved in fiscal year 2009.]. The life-cycle cost estimates
show the total costs to develop and produce system components, construct facilities, deploy the system, and operate it for 20 years.
The 3+3 program is designed to enable a system to be deployed as early as fiscal year 2003, but a more capable system could be operational in fiscal year 2006. The primary
differences between the two capability levels used in the cost estimates are in the type and amount of hardware included. The more capable system would have significantly more interceptors, fewer ground-based radars, but would also include a space-based sensor system.
The higher cost for a deployment in Alaska by 2003 is due, in large part, to the fact that less infrastructure currently exists there, transportation costs are higher, the construction season is shorter, and the environment is harsher. After the space-based sensor system is
deployed, fewer ground-based radars will be needed for an Alaskan deployment because of Alaska's location relative to potential threats. The requirement for fewer radars is the primary reason an Alaskan deployment by fiscal year 2006 was estimated to have a life-cycle cost slightly less than a deployment at Grand Forks in that same timeframe. With fewer radars, operating costs would also be lower in Alaska.
The Office of Program Analysis and Evaluation prepared
independent estimates of NMD program costs in January 1998.
Costs in the
independent estimates were about 10 percent higher than the estimates
prepared by the program office, due primarily to the fact that the
independent estimates included "pre-planned product improvements" not
included in the program office estimates.
Sources and Resources
Maintained by Webmaster
Updated Tuesday, June 27, 2000 8:55:27 AM