Conference bill: MDA to establish POR for countering hypersonicsLawmakers are calling for the Missile Defense Agency to develop a program of record by the end of September 2017 for a capability that can counter non-nuclear weapons that can fly more than five times the speed of sound.
The fiscal year 2017 defense authorization conference bill states that the director of the MDA will "serve as the executive agent for the Department of Defense for the development of a capability to counter hypersonic boost-glide vehicle capabilities and conventional prompt global strike capabilities that may be employed against the U.S., its allies and U.S deployed forces," according to language in the joint explanatory statement.
This provision stems from language in the House version of the defense policy bill, and follows both China and Russia successfully testing hypersonic capabilities earlier this year.
The House also called for withholding $25 million from the headquarters expenditures for both the Pentagon's policy and acquisition shops until the MDA certified the establishment of the program of record. This limitation of funding, as well as language calling for a report on the implications of the Missile Technology Control Regime on such defensive systems, were not included in the final version of the conference report.The conference bill calls for the MDA director to develop "architectures for hypersonic defense capability from detecting threats to intercepting such threats, that (A) involves systems of the military departments and the defense agencies; and (B ) includes both kinetic and nonkinetic options for such interception."
In addition, the MDA director should submit a report by March that details the architectures and sensors that are being evaluated, according to the bill. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is also instructed to submit a report by March on the military capabilities and gaps related to this threat.In a separate provision, lawmakers called for the defense secretary to make a decision regarding milestone A approval for the conventional prompt global strike program. This decision should occur by September 2020 or "the date that is 240 days after the date of the successful completion of intermediate range flight 2 of such system," according to the conference bill.
Hypersonic weapons are intended to provide a long-range, rapid, precise capability for destroying high-risk targets that appear only briefly or are heavily guarded. Such weapons would evade enemy defenses in anti-access and area-denial threat environments.
Lawmakers are also withholding 25 percent of the research and development funds for the CPGS system until the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff submits a report on "whether there are warfighter requirements or integrated priorities list submitted needs for a limited operational conventional prompt strike capability" and if the program plan and schedule submitted supports these, according to the bill.
Earlier this month, the House and Senate both passed the bill, which awaits President Obama's signature.