As the U.S. military works on developing its next-generation missile defense systems, more of the resources need to be focused in space, experts said Dec. 14.
“It’s so important that we make this broader shift from a terrestrial-based system to a system that primarily plays from space in the next couple of years,” said Richard Matlock, program executive for advanced technology at the Missile Defense Agency.
The military has long relied on the Space-Based Infrared System, or SBIRS, as a warning against launches of ballistic missiles. But Matlock argued that the U.S. needs to supplement it with a more layered capability in orbit with many different satellites and systems that could not only detect, but track and target a missile through every part of its flight.
“The architectures consisted largely of terrestrial sensors deployed on land, deployed on our ships, and interceptors also deployed in silos, in trucks, and in ships,” he said. “As we examine the impact of the evolving, more maneuverable, more complex threat on this, we begin to see gaps emerging in the future to our system, which is primarily based on our lack of persistent global sensor coverage.”
Those gaps could be addressed by developing a “globally persistent space-based sensor array” that would include radar and electro-optical sensors, Matlock said, at an event hosted by the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance (MDAA).