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Vice Adm. Jon Hill: MDA Works to Ensure Availability of Deterrence Capability Against Hypersonic Threats

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Vice Adm. Jon Hill, director of the Missile Defense Agency, said MDA can counter hypersonic missile threats and other proliferating technologies from adversaries by ensuring the availability of deterrence capabilities for the Department of Defense and U.S. forces. 

He said hypersonic systems are fast, highly maneuverable weapons.

“The only way to do that for a maneuvering threat is to look down from space and so that drives us to build out a space architecture that can look down and see these targets across the globe because where they’re really maneuvering is in what we call the glide phase,” Hill told Government Matters in an interview published Sunday.

“The challenge is hot target against a warm earth and so you have to have exquisite algorithms to extract those targets out of that scene,” he added.

He noted that there has been a “heavy focus on countering hypersonics” amid proliferating regional threats and MDA plans to conduct a demonstration of the hypersonic ballistic tracking space sensor capability up in space by fiscal year 2023.

Hill said MDA has “transitioned into a development agency that delivers capability to the warfighter” and covers science and technology, development, production, testing and support to the services.

He stressed that MDA is the “only joint acquisition engineering organization that is focused on this mission space so it allows the nation to have an organization that is focused on the missile defense mission, whether it’s ballistic missiles or hypersonics or cruise missile defense.”

He also discussed the concept of kill assessment and its importance to the warfighter and how MDA works with the Space Development Agency and industry on missile defense capabilities.