The US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) has contracted HII’s Mission Technologies division, an integrated solutions provider, under a $79m deal to develop, test and field a future missile defence system that will protect the US and its allies from ballistic missile threats.

HII’s team will support MDA leadership on strategic, technical, programmatic, operational, policy and organisational matters regarding the integrated, layered missile defence system.

“Rogue state adversaries like North Korea and Iran seek dangerous capabilities, including long-range ballistic missiles that can threaten the US homeland, support regional aggression, and deter potential US responses,” the US Department of Defense stated.

Layered missile defence

The team will also provide engineering and technical support; management and professional services; and studies, analyses and evaluations.

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The contract has a seven-year period of performance with a two-year base. The work will be performed in Fort Belvoir, Virginia; Huntsville, Alabama; and Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Due to the versatility of current interceptors and missile defence systems, particularly the growing level of interoperability between theatre and tactical-level missile defence solutions, one could argue that there is no longer a ‘theatre-specific’ class of missile defence systems.

Layered defence uses multiple types of interceptors to target an incoming weapon at several points in its trajectory to increase the system’s overall effectiveness.

The layered missile defense technology being developed, tested and deployed by the US is designed to counter missiles in all phases of flight.

HII system must consider emerging missile technologies

Currently, pan-European missile supplier MBDA developed the Spear Electronic Warfare (EW) missile, which carries out suppression of enemy air defence missions.

Utilising a next-generation miniature EW payload provides both stand-in jammer and decoy capabilities to curb missile defence response to complementary missile threats.

A Spear EW missile fired from multi-role aircraft. Credit: MBDA.

Similarly, hypersonic missiles are another emerging area that tests the response of missile defence systems.

They maintain several advantages in terms of manoeuvrability (manoeuvrable almost until the moment of impact, complicating interception); speed (significantly shortens defensive reaction times); and kinetic energy (kinetic force generated by hypersonic speed enhances destructive power and reduces payload weight requirements).