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NEWS | April 19, 2023

DOD official discusses steps to deter, defeat missile threats

By David Vergun DOD News

A Defense Department leader detailed missile threats from adversaries and addressed DOD countermeasure steps during testimony at the Strategic Forces Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee April 18.  

Over the past year, China has continued to develop, test and field advanced missile systems of all classes and ranges. It also launched ballistic missiles in unsuccessful attempts to intimidate and demonstrate a capability to forcefully unify with Taiwan, said John D. Hill, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Space and Missile Defense. 

Russia launched thousands of missile strikes in Ukraine to terrorize the Ukrainian people and degrade Ukraine's warfighting capability, he said. 

Military personnel work around tactical vehicles.
Patriot Missile System
Soldier's from U.S. Army Europe's Alpha Battery, 5th Battalion, 7th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, familiarize members of the Polish military on how to conduct preventive maintenance on the Patriot missile systems in Morag, Poland, June 2, 2010.
Photo By: Army Sgt. 1st Class Lawree Washingtonn
VIRIN: 100602-A-XU607-008Y

Iran launched missile attacks into neighboring states and provided rockets and unmanned aerial systems to non-state actors, who in turn use them to target U.S. forces and partners, Hill said. 

Spotlight: Support for Ukraine

North Korea showcased an array of missile systems, including 11 intercontinental ballistic missiles, and it conducted yet another ICBM test just last week, he said. 

To stay ahead of the threat from North Korea, the department is making improvements to its ground-based midcourse defense system as part of a comprehensive missile defeat approach, he said. 

"Missile defense is a notable element of our $35 billion of support to Ukraine since Russia's further invasion last year. Ukraine endures today as a sovereign and free nation in large part because it made air and missile defense top priorities as it leveraged extensive assistance from the United States, our NATO allies and many others," Hill said. 

Spotlight: NATO

International missile defense cooperation includes developing testing and training with allies and partners around the world and supporting them through sales of equipment, he said. 

A missile launcher set up is shown.
At The Ready
A U.S. Army Terminal High Altitude Area Defense launching station sits at the ready in Israel, March 4, 2019.
Photo By: Air Force Staff Sgt. Cory D. Payne
VIRIN: 190305-F-WJ663-0172Y

"Missiles have become foundational to our adversaries' way of war and missile defense has become foundational to integrated deterrence and defense of the nation. To that end, the best thing Congress can do to support the warfighter is pass on time the Defense and Military Construction Appropriations Act," he said.  

Hill detailed the spending request: 

  • To defend our homeland, $3.3 billion to improve Ground-based Midcourse Defense, including $2.2 billion for the Next Generation Interceptor.  
  • $1.5 billion for the defense of Guam, an increase of over $600 million compared to last year's request. 
  • $64 million to improve the defense of Hawaii through investments in air surveillance and other capabilities. 
  • $423 million to continue fielding over-the-horizon radars. 
  • Nearly $5 billion for modernizing space capabilities with new missile warning, missile tracking and next generation overhead persistent infrared architectures. 
  • $259 million for hypersonic missile defense sensors and development of the glide phase interceptor. 
  • $2.2 billion for the Standard Missile 3, Terminal High Altitude Area Defense and Patriot PAC-3 interceptors. 
  • $1.5 billion to counter lower tier missile threats. 
  • $308 million for directed energy development.  

Navy Vice Adm. Jon A. Hill, director of the Missile Defense Agency; Army Lt. Gen. Daniel L. Karbler, commander of the Army Space and Missile Defense Command; and Space Force Maj. Gen. David Miller, director of operations of the U.S. Space Command, also testified.