The Navy Theater Ballistic Missile Defense (TBMD) Program is based on the existing AEGIS Combat System (ACS) which was developed for and deployed on 27 Navy cruisers and more than 30 guided missile destroyers. It is an evolutionary program which continues the development of the STANDARD family of guided missiles, begun more than thirty years ago. The Navy Theater Wide (NTW) Program will continue this evolutionary process to enable the ACS to defend a larger area against long range TBM threats and at greater range. The NTW Program is currently in the Program Definition and Risk Reduction Phase of development. The Navy intends to propose the two-phase approach . The first phase, Block I, will address the current preponderant TBMD threat. NTW Block II will be treated as a major acquisition upgrade to the Block I Program. The Navy and BMDO are exploring funding sources above the currently approved budget to accelerate development and deployment of the initial NTW Block I. The Block II NTW system is not completely defined or fully funded.
The Navy Theater Wide system is projected to add the same generic kind of upper-tier coverage capability as the THAAD system, again providing longer-range coverage and protecting a wider area. This system also offers ascent-phase and mid-course intercept capabilities in cases where the Aegis ship can be positioned near the launch point, and between the launch point and the target area.
The Navy Theater Wide system is less mature than the THAAD system. DOD restructured this program in 1996 and made it a pre-MDAP program and decided to proceed with concept definition and a technical demonstration. The Department reevaluated this program and have added about $220 million to it over the FY 1998 FYDP. This was intended to lower the risk for the flight demonstration and to accelerate the initial intercept test to first quarter fiscal year 2000.
This program was structured to proceed at the fastest prudent pace as the threat emerges given the lack of maturity of the technology, and the need to further develop the system concept to enhance robustness. There is also the opportunity to apply technology being developed for national missile defense to the NTW system. Likely areas of technology synergy include advanced sensors, guidance, and propulsion. Like other TBMD programs at this stage, the program faces significant technology as well as engineering challenges. In particular, since the LEAP kinetic kill vehicle is not yet mature, there is a need to better understand alternatives before committing to full-scale development. Planned modifications to the AEGIS combat system will provide the fire control sensor capability needed to meet operational requirements.
The effort to demonstrate NTW continues the AEGIS/Lightweight Exo-atmospheric Projectile [LEAP] Intercept program, although NTW is not funded for production. The system is being developed by Raytheon Co.’s missile systems unit, Tucson, AZ, and Lockheed Martin Corp.’s Naval Electronics and Surveillance Systems-Moorestown, Moorestown, NJ. Funding of $383 million was sought in the 2001 budget, with a total of $1.9 billion to be spent from 2000 to 2005.
The current program calls for nine flight tests through 2002.
The Heritage Foundation report Defending America, A Plan to Meet the Urgent Missile Threat advocates a combined sea-based and space-based, global BMD architecture. The initial defense capability would be based upon the U.S. Navy’s twenty-two AEGIS cruisers carrying NTW Block II interceptor missiles, supported by a constellation of low orbit Space-Based Infrared (SBIRS-Low) satellites for launch detection, target tracking and engagement control. The Heritage Report focuses on a sea-based, global anti-missile capability, which they believe could provide the earliest protection against emergent Rest of World (ROW) ballistic missiles. The capability alone does not meet all the requirements of the JROC-approved NMD Operational Requirements Document (ORD). The ORD requires an initial NMD system able to achieve a high confidence, highly effective defense of all 50 states, against a simple, stressful, strategic ballistic missile threat.
The strategic ballistic missile threats to the US have different characteristics than the ballistic missiles that threaten overseas theaters of operation. NMD threat missiles are faster; cooler due to payload separation and an extended exoatmospheric flight; and may incorporate sophisticated penetration aids. The NTW Block II interceptor features a LEAP kill vehicle. Although LEAP appears to have sufficient divert capability to support engagement of unsophisticated NMD threats, it would require improvement of the infrared sensor to acquire cooler, more advanced NMD threats. Engaging the most difficult threats would require kill vehicle capabilities similar to those found in the EKV now being developed for the land-based NMD system.
If suitable external sensors are employed, the NTW Block II interceptor would become capable of using early commit-quality tracks of ICBM and SLBM boosters and reentry vehicles. In this modified configuration, an NMD system based on the NTW Block II interceptor could protect the US against attacks from N. Korea and other “Rest of World” (ROW) threats. Depending on the attacking country and details of the attack scenario, modified ships may be needed in as few as 3 different locations at sea to provide this protection, or in as many as 13 locations to provide protection against all of these countries simultaneously.
The cost for the stand-alone sea-based architecture to protect all 50 states is estimated to be $16B to $19B (ROM) (includes estimated $700M for NTW Block II RDT&E). More than $8B (ROM) is associated with sensors and BM/C3. For the sea-based architecture case, lower military construction costs would be offset by higher interceptor development and procurement costs, since this case would require a new interceptor not now under development, and it would require many more interceptors than are needed for the land-based case. In addition, the sea-based case would require dedicated launch platforms. These may be as simple as platforms equipped with the vertical launch system and the appropriate communications system, or as complex as full-up AEGIS ships. The afore stated estimate includes the cost of 3 to 6 AEGIS-type ships as a rough estimate of the ship acquisition costs. The sea-based architecture case could also add $0.1B per year (ROM) to O&S.