A nuclear ballistic missile attack against the U.S. homeland is not just an existential threat, it is real and growing daily. North Korea has tested an ICBM capable of reaching the entire continental United States and, in 2017, tested a 250 KT nuclear device – 17x larger than the blast over Hiroshima during WWII. Our existing Ground Based Interceptor (GBI) fleet is a hastily-fielded operational prototype that has provided an adequate defense against the threat to this day, but it is not fit to protect the US from the threats of 2030 and beyond.
Our fielded system has achieved 11 intercepts in 19 attempts since 1999 and while recent tests demonstrate the promise of the system, the interceptor has reached a point where it can no longer be simply updated to meet the demand. As the primary line of defense for the nation against ballistic missiles, our testing should result in a deterrent effect for our adversaries, not embolden them further. Test failure translates into regions devastated and untold economic impacts.
The most recent attempt to modernize the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system was the Redesigned Kill Vehicle (RKV), initiated in 2015. RKV was designed to be a modest, rapid, unitary kill vehicle, but was cancelled due fundamental systems engineering flaws that resulted in multi-year delays and hundreds of millions of dollars in cost