MDA Sees EW, Cyber For Future Missile Defense – Breaking Defense Breaking Defense

Missile Defense Agency head Vice Adm. Jon Hill

WASHINGTON: The US is moving away from a Missile Defense Strategy centered on hit-to-kill anti-ballistic missiles to a hybrid force that includes directed energy weapons and electronic warfare/cyber options, according to Vice Adm. Jon Hill, who heads the Missile Defense Agency.

“The future will be a mix of kinetic and non-kinetic, it will be a mix of hard kill and soft kill, because of where the threat is going to. The threat will drive us to do something different,” he told the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) today.

Hill would not specify exactly what kinds of ‘non-kinetic’ and ‘soft-kill’ technologies MDA might be investing in, citing secrecy restrictions, but confirmed that investments are being made.

“We are making investments in that area — most of it’s in an area where I can’t talk about here — but the future of missile defense will be different because of the threat,” he said.

DoD is about to launch a new Missile Defense Review, Hill said, with the last one released in January 2019 but actually completed in 2017. And that review will be firmly based on defending against emerging threats, he stressed.

“What you’re seeing today is not a simple ballistic missile going in, what you’re seeing are ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, aircraft, unmanned vehicles,” he said. “So, the real challenge today is how do we holistically understand that integrated air/missile defense picture, and now you go outside of just missile defense review that’s focused on the Missile Defense Agency. … You have to, by default, look at the whole threat space, and then what capabilities do we have, and what can we afford to procure over time.”

Indeed, in recent years, DoD has moved from talking about, and organizing its budget around, ballistic missile defense and the MDA budget basket. Instead, it has begun to refer to “missile defense and defeat” — a concept that includes the air defense and cruise missile defense budgets of the various services. DoD asked for a total of $8.9 billion for MDA in its fiscal 2022 budget request, and another $2.7 billion in service air and hypersonic…