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Vice Adm. Jon Hill on MDA’s Layered Homeland Missile Defense System Against ICBM Threats

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Vice Adm. Jon Hill
Vice Adm. Jon Hill

Vice Adm. Jon Hill, director of the Missile Defense Agency (MDA), said there are several challenges MDA needs to address as it develops a layered homeland defense system against intercontinental ballistic missile threats and one concerns the upcoming test of the SM-3 Block IIA missile, Defense News reported Tuesday.

The upcoming SM-3 Block IIA test is scheduled by the end of 2020 and Hill said travel and coordination challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic could have an impact on the schedule.

Hill said Tuesday during a Heritage Foundation virtual event that MDA will conduct another test involving a complex ICBM target that will have “a lot of separation debris and that has a lot of countermeasures.”

Another challenge MDA needs to address is the development of engagement coordination between the various layers of the homeland missile defense architecture.

“Let’s just say that step one is a ship off the coast as a complement to [Ground-based Midcourse Defense system]. Those systems today talk already, but they’re not talking in terms of being layered defenders,” Hill said.

“So if GMD, for example, decides he’s going to wait this first shot out and let the ship take it, we have to have the communication network to go do that. We have to have the technical architecture with the Command and Control Battle Management system, but in that context of layered defense and engagement coordination.”