Opening Remarks of Ranking Member Turner

Mar 12, 2020
Opening Statement
Missile Defense and Defeat Programs

WASHINGTON, DC - Today, Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH), ranking member of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, made the following remarks, as prepared for delivery, at the Subcommittee's hearing on the FY21 budget request for missile defense and defeat programs:

"Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I’d like to extend my thanks to all the witnesses here today. I look forward to hearing your perspectives on how we support robust missile defense capabilities while providing the necessary oversight into this increasingly complex enterprise. 

"This year has been marked by tremendous success and disappointment across the missile defense enterprise. In March of 2019, the Department successfully conducted its first ground-based intercept of a complex, threat-representative salvo launch. As part of that test MDA, also used their Space-based Kill Assessment system to confirm the intercept. They fused data in their C2BMC system. And then, did it again with a second interceptor. It was an impressive feat. Even you, Ms. Chaplain acknowledged that it 'may be the most challenging test in the program’s near 30-year history.' 

"Unfortunately, just a few short months later in August of 2019, the Department of Defense terminated the Redesigned Kill Vehicle program which was supposed to address reliability issues in our existing fleet of interceptors. That cancellation incurred $1.2 billion worth of sunk costs and declared a 10 year delay in a critically needed upgrade to our homeland missile defense capabilities. Perhaps the most disappointing part of this cancellation is that the failures leading to this action both on the contractor and Government-side have eroded our confidence in Agency.

"The President’s Budget request for FY21 across the missile defense and missile defeat enterprise totals $20.3 billion. The majority of that money is for the Missile Defense Agency which requested $9.2 billion, $7.9 billion in regional and strategic missile defense capabilities across the services and the DoD, and $3.2 billion in left of launch activities. 

"While $20.3 billion is an admirable amount, missile defense still managed to take significant cuts to their program this year. Notably, this year’s budget cancels the Homeland Defense Radar-Hawaii and the Pacific Radar. It zero’ed out all funding of high-powered lasers for unique missile defense requirements. It zero’ed out MDA’s budget on hypersonic and ballistic space sensors and reallocated it somewhere in the Space Development Agency. These kinds of budget choices indicate a significant lack of judgment in determining which requirements are being pursued in our missile defense enterprise. Coupled with the acquisition failure of RKV, I remain skeptical of the near-term programmatic direction of missile defense. 

"While I anticipate significant challenges in the direction, priority, and scope of this year’s missile defense budget, request there are some opportunities that I fully support. This year’s budget request includes $206.8 million for hypersonic defense. In a time of great power competition with the Russians fielding strategic hypersonic weapons and the Chinese developing regional hypersonic weapons we need to actively develop the capability to defend ourselves from these threats. With this year’s budget request, the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) fleet will grow to 48 deployable ships to provide forward deployed regional missile defense in support of partners and allies. The FY21 budget request includes $495 million for the procurement of THAAD interceptors. By FY21, the THAAD program will have delivered seven THAAD batteries and 351 interceptors which have deployed globally to support our troops, partners, and allies. 

"Lastly, this budget request attempts to address the problems caused by the cancellation of RKV. It funds the Next Generation Interceptor, which is meant to be an all-up-round replacement for GBI. There is still a lot of programmatic and requirements-based uncertainty about that program. Gen O’Shaughnessy, I look forward to hearing your testimony on the requirements for this system. And Admiral Hill I want to hear how you will balance those requirements with an acquisition strategy that produces capability for this nation within a reasonable time frame. From all of our witness I am interested in your perspectives on how the DoD will provide Congress the ability to perform its oversight responsibilities rigorously. 

"This budget also funds the Department’s new architectural approach to filling the gap in homeland missile defense capabilities caused by the RKV cancellation by an approach called – underlayer. The idea is to use modified Aegis and THAAD systems to augment homeland missile defense capabilities where feasible. MDA’s FY21 budget request asks for $39.2 million for exploring the possibility of modifying the Aegis weapon system for layered homeland defense. MDA also requested $139 million to develop an extended range THAAD. It is my sincere hope that these capabilities can be rapidly developed and fielded to help address the very real capability gaps we will experience in our homeland missile defense system in the near- to mid-term. 

"This year’s missile defense budget is important, not only because of what it chooses to fund, but also what it chose to zero out. It serves as a testament to the polices and priorities of this Department of Defense. While I have always been a strong supporter of the mission, I have deep and justified skepticism of the program direction, transparency, and accountability of the current enterprise.

"To all the witnesses thank you again for being with us today. I look forward to your testimony and continued dialogue on these critically important issues."

116th Congress