Missile Lock

By John Liang / June 9, 2010 at 5:00 AM

The Missile Defense Agency has officially begun the process of developing a next-generation Standard Missile-3.

The SM-3 is the cornerstone of the Obama administration's proposed "phased adaptive approach" to defend Europe against a ballistic missile attack from Iran.

According to a Federal Business Opportunities notice issued this afternoon:

This is a pre-solicitation notice for the Missile Defense Agency’s next generation STANDARD Missile-3 missile defense interceptor. The Agency intends to issue a solicitation for concept definition and program planning. The STANDARD Missile – 3 Block IIB, or SM-3 IIB, will optimize early battlespace engagements, increase defended area, and provide early intercept capability against an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) from forward based locations using the Aegis weapon system infrastructure and Mk 41 Vertical Launching System. The concept definition and program planning phase, beginning in fiscal year 2011, will include extensive trade studies to define missile concepts, benchmark performance, anchor technology assessments, define a viable development plan, and identify risks and mitigation strategies. We will select up to three contractors for this phase that have demonstrated experience in kill vehicle development, booster development, missile development integration and test, and missile production.

Inside the Navy reported last month that the service is anticipating burgeoning demand in the coming decades for Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense assets and expects to fund installations for nearly 60 cruisers and destroyers through fiscal year 2024, with all new-build DDG-51s getting the systems, according to an April report the Navy submitted to the Senate Armed Services Committee. Specifically:

The report, required by the FY-10 Defense Authorization Act and submitted by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, states that the Navy and the Missile Defense Agency plan to implement the Aegis modernization program -- which includes the latest version of Aegis BMD -- on all 62 original DDG-51 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers and nine Baseline IV CG-47 Ticonderoga-class cruisers. Officials are also considering adding BMD capability to the six Baseline III cruisers.

Beginning with DDG-113, the Navy will also install the system on all new-build Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, a program the sea service restarted in the wake of the truncation of the DDG-1000 Zumwalt-class destroyer program. The report states that no new-construction Aegis ships would be needed beyond those in the Navy’s 30-year shipbuilding plan.

“Based on threat analysis and current indications from CCDRs ((combatant commanders)), Navy and MDA concluded that CCDR requirements for surface combatants with Aegis BMD will outpace capacity through approximately 2018, assuming standard six-month deployment lengths,” Mabus wrote. “Accordingly, the president’s budget for 2011 includes funding for additional capacity and capability of surface combatants with Aegis BMD to bridge the gap between available Aegis BMD inventory and CCDR requirements.”

The Navy is experiencing a surge in demand for its Aegis BMD-equipped ships due to President Obama’s “phased adaptive approach” to missile defense in Europe that heavily relies on Aegis BMD ships in the first phase until ground sites can be installed. Rear Adm. Archer Macy, director of the Joint Integrated Air and Missile Defense Organization, told the Senate Armed Services Committee April 20 that the Navy would be increasing Aegis BMD installations to the point where the service would have 38 ships over the Future Years Defense Plan, which is reflected in Mabus’ report.

By next month, the Navy will have 21 Aegis BMD-capable ships -- 16 destroyers and five cruisers. All but one of the ships will have Aegis BMD baseline 3.6.1, the initial version of the system that is integrated with the Aegis Combat System and provides an exo-atmospheric engagement capability against short-, medium- and some intermediate-range ballistic missiles with the SM-3 Block IA missile, as well as the SM-2 Block IV missile to engage short-range ballistic missiles in the terminal phase, according to the report.