An East Coast site, which could take up to six years to establish, according to Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), could require another 20 interceptors in addition to the 44 already planned for Alaska and California, experts say.
The policy change also returns the industrial balance to its state during the administrations of President George W. Bush, with Boeing leading production of large, long-range interceptors; Raytheon heading up sea-based interceptor work; and Lockheed Martin handling targets and manufacturing of the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) interceptor.
Within months, Hagel also plans to put a second Raytheon AN/TPY-2 X-band radar on Japanese soil to complement the one in Shariki, in northern Japan. This would provide a “stereo” look at any missiles coming out of North Korea as well as better discrimination if they were to head across the North Pole for U.S. soil.
It is unclear where that radar will come from. Building the powerful sensors takes about 30 months, and all of those delivered are obligated: three to existing U.S. Army Thaad batteries; one each in Qatar, Turkey, Israel and Shariki; and another in the Pacific for testing. Plans are being made to select a non-deployed radar for use at the new Japan site.
Finally, the Pentagon will restructure what was known under then-MDA Director Army Lt. Gen. Patrick O'Reilly as the SM-3 IIB long-range interceptor. This missile was to be introduced in the fourth phase of the incremental buildup of defenses to protect Europe and the U.S. East Coast first by 2020 and then, because of a slip, around 2022. Though it was only conceptual, the IIB would have been the first major new interceptor program in more than a decade. It represented an opportunity for Lockheed Martin or Raytheon to edge into the market of GBI makers Boeing and Orbital Sciences Corp.
O'Reilly pushed the SM-3 IIB as a way to conduct an “early intercept” from Europe of an incoming Iranian missile.
Industry officials say the restructured SM-3 IIB will no longer focus on a booster and kill vehicle but drive solely for the latter. The Raytheon Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV), the hit-to-kill mechanism developed by Raytheon for the GBI, relies on “1980s technology tied to a '70s architecture,” says Nick Bucci, director of missile defense development programs for Lockheed Martin.
EKVs were quickly developed in response to Reagan's urgent call for a homeland missile defense capability and thus were not designed with ease of production in mind. They also use old mission computer technology and have suffered from reliability issues.
“This is a real opportunity to look at more robust, more reliable and lower-cost solution,” says Doug Graham, vice president of advanced programs for Lockheed Martin's missile defense business.