Home » Budget Industry » MDA Quietly Revises Projected Ballistic Missile Defense Ship Totals Down from FY 2016 Budget Request


MDA Quietly Revises Projected Ballistic Missile Defense Ship Totals Down from FY 2016 Budget Request

An SM-3 Block 1B interceptor is launched from the guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG-70) during a Missile Defense Agency test in 2013. MDA Photo

An SM-3 Block 1B interceptor is launched from the guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG-70) during a Missile Defense Agency test in 2013. MDA Photo

A recent change in how the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) counts ballistic missile defense (BMD) ships lowers projected future totals from what the agency estimated in its Fiscal Year 2016 budget request to Congress, USNI News has learned.

Instead of 48 “BMD capable ships” the MDA estimated the U.S. would have by FY 2020 the force will be instead 39 “BMD deployable ships” — a difference of nine ships.

The change came during a conference between MDA and Navy officials in late June and was made to better align the agency with how the service counts its assets.

Prior to a June change, the MDA had counted a newly BMD capable ship as one that had the necessary hardware to operate but didn’t account for the at least six months of training the Navy crew needed to be qualified to effectively operate the ship.

According to the BMD counts obtained by USNI News, the numbers were aligned up to FY 2015 but began to diverge in FY 2016 and beyond until the 2020 totals.

MDA PB16

FY15

FY16

FY17

FY18

FY19

FY20

BMD Capable Ships

33

35

37

40

43

48

When asked for additional information on why MDA shifted how it counted BMD ships, the agency provided a brief statement to USNI News and did not elaborate.

“The Missile Defense Agency has aligned BMD ship counting with the Navy methodology,” read the complete MDA statement.

 

FY15

FY16

FY17

FY18

FY19

FY20

 

BMD Deployable Ships

33

33

33

36

38

39

In addition to revising its count for new BMD ships, the MDA and Navy agreed they would remove Ticonderoga-class cruisers from the BMD ship count when they start their modernization availability.

As part of the service’s plan for upgrades, the cruisers will lose their basic BMD capability during the availability.

At least one member of Congress told USNI News the agency’s projections of BMD assets was “misleading.”

“The Missile Defense Agency’s proposal to count a ship as being BMD-capable when it’s crew has yet to receive its needed training defies logic, Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.), chair of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces, told USNI News in a statement.

The Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Vicksburg (CG 69) transits the Strait of Gibraltar on March 31, 2015, as part of the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group. US Navy photo.

The Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Vicksburg (CG 69) transits the Strait of Gibraltar on March 31, 2015, as part of the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group. US Navy photo.

Forbes compared the MDA’s methodology to the Navy counting the Ticonderoga-class cruisers it plans to sideline for modernization and leave with a reduced crew as BMD capable.

“Showing ships with untrained crews as BMD-capable is as misleading as including cruisers removed from the fleet for up to four years as contributing to the Navy’s BMD mission,” he said.

The revision in the MDA BMD count comes as the service struggles to effectively modernize its fleet of Aegis-equipped Arleigh Burke guided missile destroyers (DDG-51) to include the in-demand capability. According to the Pentagon, the demand from operational commanders is for about 70 BMD capable ships versus the 33 in the inventory today.

Earlier this year, USNI News reported the service planned to further reduce the number of BMD upgrades to Flight IIA Arleigh Burke due to budget constraints.

Categories: Budget Industry, News & Analysis, Surface Forces, U.S. Navy
Sam LaGrone

About Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone is the editor of USNI News. He was formerly the U.S. Maritime Correspondent for the Washington D.C. bureau of Jane’s Defence Weekly and Jane’s Navy International. He has covered legislation, acquisition and operations for the Sea Services and spent time underway with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the Canadian Navy.

  • Curtis Conway

    If politics is pushing this, or just budget pressures are trying to modify . . . REALITY . . . I will be ready to kick somebody’s ………… Recent testimony by our commanders to congress put the total climbing to 77 fast. You don’t even see the number in this estimate. Someone is living on a river in Egypt, or someone is lying deliberately. The numbers of threat platforms and missiles in the field drive this. NOT someones political or budgetary desires.

    The highest priority is to get the Integrated Air & Missile Defense (IAMD) mods done as quickly as possible on every CG & DDG.

    • J_kies

      Curtis – the next CNO publically disagrees. The top priority is the war avoidance recap of the Boomers as the nation demands that the USN prioritize its role maintaining of over 70% of the nations deterrent force. (Also the system with the highest reliability of any DOD program).

      • Curtis Conway

        I agree with the reliability numbers. However, the sailors in the Western Pacific, who bear the brunt of what is to come, will disagree . . . when all we have left is to turn parts of the planet into glass after their passing . . . and THIS administration won’t even do that. Where is the football?

        I recall the CNO’s remarks and remember thinking out loud about doing that until the next administration, when we can take the defense of the United States seriously, and resume our responsibilities globally. We still have a large force with no money with which to train, repair, and operate, forget about building capable platforms that can fill the need. The LCS budget (R&D and construction) would have built a significant number of Aegis FFGs (on an NSC hull) and we would be better off particularly with the equipment maturing in front of our eyes (SM-6/NIFC-CA, and SM-6 TBMD capability). Great planning and Proactive Presence ? ! George Washington is rolling over in his grave.

        • J_kies

          Curtis – A number of people need to take some remedial history. Washington and Jefferson were Deists and their expectation of “God” is a far cry from the revisionist views.

          I consider the professionals below the political level as taking the nations full defense much more seriously now than under previous administrations where the political direction was much more damaging to good order in acquisition and used military force unnecessarily and inappropriately.

          • Curtis Conway

            I take issue with your definition of the revisionist views”. You illustrate one of my points exactly. Context is everything, and if you are careful enough to find a book of the era that defines Deist in that day, it has scarcely a hint of similarity to what that term means today. A Deist of that day considered G-d to be of a nature similar to the Hebrew G-d, and these men very much believed in Divine Providence. General George Washington was most appreciative of his Creator for having spared his life so many times, protected his troops in battle, and retreat, as indicated in his actions (written about by others mostly), and his letters, speeches and writings. He was also a big believer in proactive action (mostly don’t be there when they come with greater force which preserved his force), and presence when he could, which was not all that often. But he was present at Valley Forge. As president he had to deal with the economic realities of his time and relied on that Divine Providence to protect the country, which G-d did. President John Adams built our frigates which were sent by President Thomas Jefferson to deal with those Islamic Terrorist who held our citizens for ransoms of gold yielding the Leathernecks refrain of “….to the shores of Tripoli.’ in the Marine Hymn. Presidents from our very founding have had to deal with the barbarian behavior of the Islamic mindset from the very beginning. There are entries in the budget that testify to this truth, that most want to deny. The most successful American leaders were not so understanding and accommodating. Current leadership disagrees with this HiStorical wisdom, and have changed that policy . . . and you can see the result.

          • J_kies

            Wow – Ok I see I struck a nerve, I happen to be agnostic – but in the exact case you cite it was specifically a war of punishment – not stabilization, not civilization or ‘responsibility to protect’ just flat out punishment. I believe in punishment, it works.

            The US military is a finely honed tool to punish miscreants. We miss-use/miss-apply it when attempting to ‘stabilize’ nations or do actions like COIN.

            If we desire to address the SCS problem; encourage the Philippines to issue Letters of Marque for contractors to seize Chinese vessels violating sovereignty and sell those vessels until it stops. Real economic punishments short of war and a significant deterrent to salami slicing.

      • Marauder 2048

        The next CNO is a bubblehead. Same as the outgoing CNO. Tribal allegiances run deep and so does myopia. It’s not difficult to achieve high reliability when you are only on deterrence patrol half as much and for half as long relative to the design specs.

        “the nation demands that the USN prioritize its role maintaining of over 70% of the nations deterrent force”

        Astroturfing much? That’s awfully evocative language for a claim with practically no supporting data. Yeah, I’m sure SSBN(X) has completely displaced Trump and Kim Kardashian as the trending Twitter buzz.

  • R’ Yitzchak M

    Curtis you are 100% right (definitelly not “left” of it..) but! just to “spice it” a bit the very good example is the France in the late 30’s came in mind the very same DISEASE.. malignant opportunism and “story telling” exercising in bucket loads of b.s. as opposed to common sense and the RESPONSIBILITY. And yes the “FIFTH COLUMN” radical -subversives PRESS, LAWYERS, and CLINTONESQUE judiciary.. It is not “just” a matter of “IDEOLOGY” but rather it is an ultimate assault
    to grab the absolute – tyrannical power of the state.

    THE STATE HAS ONLY ONE CRITICAL PURPOSE and that IS DEFENSE OF
    ITS CITIZENS.. P E R I O D !!! Everything ELSE is just a “perks” LUXURY
    that ONLY opulent STATES could afford, defense is not a luxury it is the
    ONLY purpose of the state. Now some might argue is it the “GUNS or the BUTTER” that state could “choose” from.. answer is NO it is fallacious “argument” if you have no guns someone else will eat all your butter.. again the case in
    point would be France in the late 30’s. This is the first time in the US history that radical “MESIAH” was “voted” by the DEAD PEOPLE (resurrected by the Acorn?) ILLEGAL ALLIENS and “PEOPLES NEWS COMISARS”.. and “Judiciary” which
    had nothing but an utter contempt on the US Constitution and ITS PEOPLE and
    their rights. I really love France it had the one of the smartest people on the
    planet Charles De Gaulle please check his memoirs for the pre-war period it is
    one of the greatest documents of what went wrong with the Europe. We are
    catching the very same DISEASE.. symptoms are quite clear and distinct.

  • John King

    This is an easy fix. List two sets of ship numbers. One set for ships capable of and assigned a BMD role and a second, subset, of the number of ships currently BMD capable. That clearly identifies the difference as those ships undergoing overhaul, not yet completely through deployment work-up, etc.

    • old guy

      You have the same name as one of my old, (now deceased) friends. He was a Navy Captain, courageous demeanor , an advanced thinker and brilliant ally. Are you related to him?

      • John King

        Sorry but no. My dad was in the 82nd Airborne and jumped on D-Day.

        • old guy

          That,s all the HERO you need.

  • uncaherb

    Hopefully it will be a paper war that uses the paper ships to fight it, otherwise we’ve been sold down the river. I recall an accidental recording of the President telling the Russian President to “wait until I’m re-elected”. He was, Crimea has been annexed and Ukraine is in the cross hairs, but it’s okay we have ships on paper…

    • Curtis Conway

      I recall an exercise where real SOF were on San Clemente Island, and were scheduled to be picked up by a constructive C-130. They were there a while.

  • Secundius

    Some much for Congressional Oversight, “Bean Counters” like Grover Norquist and the Protection of the United States of America by the US Navy…