The Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency is asking for $9.9 billion to improve the ability of the United States to shoot down enemy missiles as the threat from North Korea becomes more acute.
The budget request for fiscal 2019 includes funds for 20 additional ground-based interceptors to be based at Fort Greely, Alaska. That will bring the number of interceptor missiles in Alaska to 64 by 2023.
“The National Defense Strategy called for the modernization of the nuclear triad,” Pentagon Comptroller David Norquist told reporters Monday. “It also directed that we focus on a layered missile defense and disruptive capabilities for both theater, missile threats and the North Korean ballistic missile threat.”
The budget also includes money for other layers of the U.S. missile defense system, including the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense and the Aegis system, which can be deployed on ships or on land.
Pentagon officials have expressed confidence that the system has the capability to shoot down a missile headed for the U.S. based on North Korea’s demonstrated technology.
But the budget also calls for accelerated research to develop defenses against future technologies, such as maneuverable warheads and hypersonic glide planes.
“We have lost our technical advantage in hypersonics,” said Gen. Paul Selva, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs, at a breakfast with reporters last month.
“The Russians and the Chinese moved out pretty smartly on hypersonics. China has made it a national program, so China’s willing to spend tens to up to hundreds of billions to solve the problems of hypersonic flight, hypersonic target designation, and then, ultimately, engagement,” Selva said.
The MDA budget request asks for $120 million to “identify and mature full kill chain technology” to address defense from hypersonic threats.