Report to Congress on Navy Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense

June 20, 2024 8:28 AM

The following is the June 14, 2024, Congressional Research Service report Navy Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) Program: Background and Issues for Congress.

From the report

The Aegis ballistic missile defense (BMD) program, which is carried out by the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and the Navy, gives Navy Aegis cruisers and destroyers a capability for conducting BMD operations. BMD-capable Aegis ships operate in European waters to defend Europe from potential ballistic missile attacks from countries such as Iran, and in in the Western Pacific and the Persian Gulf to provide regional defense against potential ballistic missile attacks from countries such as North Korea and Iran. The number of BMD-capable Aegis ships has been growing over time. MDA’s FY2025 budget submission states that “by the end of FY 2025, there will be 56 total BMD capable [Aegis] ships requiring maintenance support.” MDA testified on December 7, 2023, that the number of BMD-capable ships on that date was 49, and that under MDA’s FY2024 budget submission, the number is to grow to 56 by FY2025 and 69 by FY2030.

The Aegis BMD program is funded mostly through MDA’s budget. The Navy’s budget provides additional funding for BMD-related efforts. MDA’s proposed FY2024 budget requests a total of $1,329.9 million (i.e., about $1.3 billion) in procurement and research and development funding for Aegis BMD efforts, including funding for two Aegis Ashore sites in Poland and Romania. MDA’s budget also includes operations and maintenance (O&M) and military construction (MilCon) funding for the Aegis BMD program.

Issues for Congress regarding the Aegis BMD program include the following:

  • whether to approve, reject, or modify MDA’s annual procurement and research and development funding requests for the program;
  • the adequacy of MDA’s cost estimating and its reporting of costs;
  • what role the Aegis BMD program should play in defending the U.S. homeland against attack from ICBMs;
  • required versus available numbers of BMD-capable Aegis ships;
  • the burden that BMD operations may be placing on the Navy’s fleet of Aegis ships, and whether there are alternative ways to perform BMD missions now performed by U.S. Navy Aegis ships, such as establishing additional Aegis Ashore sites;
  • allied burden sharing—how allied contributions to regional BMD capabilities and operations compare to U.S. naval contributions to overseas regional BMD capabilities and operations;
  • whether to convert the Aegis test facility in Hawaii into an operational land-based Aegis BMD site;
  • the potential for ship-based lasers to contribute in coming years to Navy terminal-phase BMD operations and the impact this might eventually have on required numbers of ship-based BMD interceptor missiles; and
  • deliveries, testing, and technical risk in the Aegis BMD program.

Download the document here.

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