Defense Primer: Defense against ballistic missiles

The following is the Congressional Research Service report dated November 23, 2022, Defense Primer: Ballistic Missile Defense.

From the report

The United States has continuously developed and deployed ballistic missile defense (BMD) systems to defend against enemy missiles since the late 1940s. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the United States deployed a limited nuclear-tipped BMD system to protect a portion of its land-based US nuclear ICBM (Intercontinental Ballistic Missile) forces in order to provide a strategic deterrent against a Soviet nuclear attack maintain the homeland. This system became active in 1975 but closed in 1976 over concerns about cost and effectiveness. In the FY1975 budget, the Army began funding research into alternative hit-to-kill or kinetic energy interceptors—the type of interceptor technology that now dominates US BMD systems.

In 1983, President Reagan announced increased efforts for BMD. Since the beginning of the Reagan Initiative in 1985, BMD has been a major national security interest with Congress committing well over $200 billion to a wide range of BMD research and development programs and domestic and international deployments of BMD systems Has.

The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) is tasked with developing, testing, and deploying an integrated, multi-layered BMD system (BMDS) to protect the United States, U.S. Armed Forces, and U.S. allies and partners against all Defending ranges and in all phases of flight. The FY2023 budget request is $24.7 billion for missile defense, including $9.6 billion for MDA.

Ballistic missile threats

After an initial powered phase of flight, a ballistic missile exits the atmosphere and follows an unpowered trajectory or trajectory before re-entering the atmosphere to a predetermined target. Ballistic missiles have an effective range of a few hundred kilometers (km) to more than 10,000 km. Short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) have a range of 300 to 1,000 km and are generally considered for tactical military use. Medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBMs) have a range of 1,000 to 5,500 km, although most are armed with conventional warheads and have a range of less than 3,500 km. ICBMs have a range of more than 5,500 km and are generally considered strategic deterrents.

Most of the world’s ballistic missiles are owned by the United States and its allies and partners; However, China and especially Russia also have a significant number of ICBMs. Russia still possesses medium-range and cruise ballistic missiles (3,500-5,500 km), which led to the US withdrawal from the 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty. The 2022 Missile Defense Review also identifies ballistic missile threats from North Korea and Iran.

North Korea likely has an arsenal of hundreds of SRBMs capable of reaching all of South Korea, and perhaps dozens of MRBMs (the reliability of which is uncertain at this point) capable of reaching Japan and US bases in the region. North Korea has in-flight tested two types of road-mobile ICBMs that have the range to hit the US homeland. The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) has stated that “North Korea’s continued development of ICBMs, IRBMs and [submarine-launched ballistic missiles] shows its intention to strengthen its nuclear delivery capability.”

Download the document here.

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