In Depth Analysis, Commentary, and Publications

The Forthcoming Missile Defense Review

The Forthcoming Missile Defense Review

Later this spring, the Trump administration will release its 2018 Missile Defense Review (MDR), which is expected to better align U.S. missile defense policy with the present security environment. President…

Trump’s 2019 Missile Defense Budget: Choosing Capacity over Capability

Trump’s 2019 Missile Defense Budget: Choosing Capacity over Capability

The administration’s budget request for FY 2019 prioritizes near-term readiness against limited but growing ballistic missile threats from sources such as North Korea. This choice, however, falls short of connecting missile defense efforts to the reality of renewed great power competition as articulated in the National Defense Strategy.

How to Keep US Missile Defense on the Right Track

How to Keep US Missile Defense on the Right Track

Recent budget moves will give the U.S. missile defense effort a major boost in funding over the coming year, likely allowing the purchase of additional Ground Based Interceptor missiles on top of the 44 already deployed for use by the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system against ICBMs headed toward the U.S. homeland.

Iran’s Burgeoning Strategic Forces

Iran’s Burgeoning Strategic Forces

Iran’s missile forces, in tandem with other strategic tools, support a complex national security strategy that both enables the projection of power across the region, and imposes costs on adversaries seeking to directly challenge Iran’s regime.

When Allies Get Nervous

When Allies Get Nervous

In a nuclear world, nuclear weapons are needed to deter major attacks, but who should possess these instruments of deterrence? Today the challenge of keeping nonnuclear states from going nuclear may be growing, perhaps nowhere quite as much as in northeast Asia…

Distributed Defense: New Operational Concepts for Air and Missile Defense

Distributed Defense: New Operational Concepts for Air and Missile Defense

Despite the rising salience of missile threats, current air and missile defense forces are far too susceptible to suppression. Today’s U.S. air and missile defense (AMD) force lacks the depth, capacity, and operational flexibility to simultaneously perform both missions

Dissecting the Big Missile Defense Plus-up

Dissecting the Big Missile Defense Plus-up

Missile defense funds are likely to grow—a lot. In addition to a September reprogramming of an additional $249 million for the Missile Defense Agency for FY 2017, appropriations for FY 2018 could exceed $11 billion, over $3 billion more than the president’s original request. This would make for the highest level of missile defense funding in a decade…

Here’s How the US Army Should Arm Itself for New Threats

Here’s How the US Army Should Arm Itself for New Threats

The U.S. Army has been at war continuously for 16 years. New technologies pose new threats and old technologies grow in numbers and capability. If ever the Army were ever to think creatively about how to meet the extraordinary demands it faces, now would be the time.

Why America Must Improve Its Missile Defense Systems

Why America Must Improve Its Missile Defense Systems

President Trump’s recent claim that U.S. ballistic-missile defenses are effective “97 percent of the time” has provoked much discussion about the capabilities of one U.S. defense system in particular: Ground-Based Midcourse Defense.

A Missile Defense Agenda

A Missile Defense Agenda

In the 1990s, the U.S. intelligence community assessed that North Korea might acquire an intercontinental ballistic missile by 2015. That threat is now here.

Video: Detecting a North Korean Missile Strike on Guam

Video: Detecting a North Korean Missile Strike on Guam

In early August 2017, North Korea announced plans to launch four intermediate-range ballistic missiles towards the waters surrounding Guam — perhaps 30 or 40 kilometers from the island’s coast.

Missile Defense and the Nuclear Posture Review

Missile Defense and the Nuclear Posture Review

As missile defense capabilities have matured, they have become widely recognized for their contribution to broad strategic objectives and the US nuclear posture. The growing significance of missile defenses has been more broadly reflected in major national and military strategy documents across the last several administrations.

More distributed operating concepts needed for US Army air and missile defense

More distributed operating concepts needed for US Army air and missile defense

A new challenge faces the joint force: the prospect of conflict with a near-peer adversary who has spent two decades going to school on the U.S. way of war. Potential adversaries have integrated air defenses and precision-strike weapons that can hold forward-based U.S. forces at risk, complicate maneuver and impair freedom of action.

Iranian Missile Launches: 1988-Present

Iranian Missile Launches: 1988-Present

Despite Iran’s apparent compliance with the nuclear deal concluded in 2015, its missile programs remain a serious concern. Since 2006, the United Nations has repeatedly sanctioned Iran’s ballistic missile programs,…

Op-ed: Improve the Space-Based Sensor System

Op-ed: Improve the Space-Based Sensor System

The Pentagon’s missile defense review is now underway, incorporating mandates from both the White House and Congress. One of its considerations, at presidential direction, is whether there should be a…

North Korea’s New ICBM

North Korea’s New ICBM

North Korea conducted a flight test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that it has designated the Hwasong-14. During the July 3 test, the Hwasong-14 traveled for around 40 minutes before landing in the Sea of Japan, inside Japan’s exclusive economic zone…

Aegis Intercept Test: Critical Questions

Aegis Intercept Test: Critical Questions

The Missile Defense Agency yesterday conducted an intercept test of the Standard Missile-3 Block IIA (SM-3 IIA), a relatively new interceptor designed for use in the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) program. Something appears to have gone wrong, however, and the interceptor did not destroy its target. The type or cause of failure is not yet known, nor will it likely be known for some time.

The Future of Missile Defense in the Asia Pacific

The Future of Missile Defense in the Asia Pacific

Missile threats facing both the United States and its allies in the Asia-Pacific are increasing in complexity, number, and source. In response, the Trump administration is using missile defenses to boost military capability and signal resolve, as indicated by the deployment of THAAD to South Korea…

The GMD Intercept: What Does It Mean?

The GMD Intercept: What Does It Mean?

This is a good day for homeland missile defense, and a bad day for Kim Jong-un. Hit-to-kill missile defense has once again been validated, this time against a complex and challenging ICBM-class threat. The Missile Defense Agency has been on a long road to improving the reliability and capability of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) program…

Analyzing the PB 2018 Missile Defense Agency Budget

Analyzing the PB 2018 Missile Defense Agency Budget

The Trump Administration’s proposed FY2018 budget for the Missile Defense Agency was released yesterday with a topline request of $7.9 billion. The amount represents $380 million more than the budget…

Missile Maps and Infographics

Missile Maps and Infographics

These graphics display the missile activity and capabilities of countries around the globe, including missile ranges, missile testing patterns, and more. All images are free use with citation to the CSIS Missile Defense Project.

North Korea’s New Missiles on Parade

North Korea’s New Missiles on Parade

This past weekend, North Korea conducted a major military parade, an annual affair to commemorate the birth of Kim Il-sung. The event included the conspicuous display of many missiles and…

Missile Defense 2020: Next Steps for Defending the Homeland

Missile Defense 2020: Next Steps for Defending the Homeland

In policy pronouncements over the last two administrations, the protection of the American homeland was regularly identified as the first priority of U.S. missile defense efforts. Homeland missile defense today is provided by the Ground-based Midcourse Defense program and other elements of the larger Ballistic Missile Defense System…

Video: Next Steps for Defending the Homeland

Video: Next Steps for Defending the Homeland

Protecting the homeland is regularly identified as the top priority of U.S. missile defense efforts. This mission is dependent upon a global network of sensors and interceptors, including the Ground-based…

Homeland Missile Defense: Illustrations

Homeland Missile Defense: Illustrations

This page provides downloadable versions of all illustrations found in Missile Defense 2020: Next Steps for Defending the Homeland. Illustrations are organized by chapter, in the order of their appearance…

Op-ed: Next Steps for Homeland Missile Defense

Op-ed: Next Steps for Homeland Missile Defense

Should North Korea fire a long-range ballistic missile in anger, America’s only line of defense is an integrated system of interceptors and sensors known as the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system…

FY 2017 Missile Defense Agency Budget Tracker

FY 2017 Missile Defense Agency Budget Tracker

This chart shows the Missile Defense Agency budget movements made by each committee in both the House and Senate. The green highlighted columns show the final totals of the authorization…

The Russia – NATO A2AD Environment

The Russia – NATO A2AD Environment

Among the concerns of the NATO alliance in the post-Crimea era is the increase in Russia’s anti-access area denial (A2AD) capabilities. A2AD forces are classified as those that contribute to…

Missile Defense: Time to Go Big

Missile Defense: Time to Go Big

Nations around the world continue to develop a growing range of ballistic and cruise missiles to asymmetrically threaten U.S. forces, allies, and the American homeland. Missile defenses have now become an essential part of U.S. defense policy and strategy, and their importance shows no sign of diminishing.

Nuclear Forces: Restore the Primacy of Deterrence

Nuclear Forces: Restore the Primacy of Deterrence

U.S. nuclear deterrent forces have long been the foundation of U.S. national security and the highest priority of the Department of Defense. As President-elect Donald Trump has observed, nuclear weapons…

Video: Midcourse Discrimination

Video: Midcourse Discrimination

Hit-to-kill ballistic missile defense is the ultimate precision guidance challenge. Many elements of a defense must come together to achieve a long range intercept. One of the most important and…

Interactive: The Missile War in Yemen

Interactive: The Missile War in Yemen

These interactive features show the relative intensity of missile and missile defense-related activity across the Arabian Gulf which has occurring as part of the ongoing Yemen conflict. Beginning in June 2015, the bulk of missile incidents have occurred along Yemen-Saudi border around the cities of Najran, Jizan and Abha, but Houthi acquisition of longer-range missiles have permitted attacks as far as Riyadh.

FY17 Budget Squeezes MDA’s Research and Development

FY17 Budget Squeezes MDA’s Research and Development

The recently released $7.5 billion FY17 budget request for the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) represents an $822 million reduction from last year’s enacted budget. These cuts are essentially divided between…

Op-ed: A Space Sensor Layer for Missile Defense

Op-ed: A Space Sensor Layer for Missile Defense

Space is the place for a variety of missile defense tasks — including launch detection, tracking, discrimination, intercept, and kill assessment. Ballistic missiles travel in space, and the missile defense…

MDA and the Color of Money

MDA and the Color of Money

This study explores the growing competition for scarce dollars at the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA). It traces the authorities, roles, and missions assigned to the agency and the growing…

Missile Defense Budget Trends

Missile Defense Budget Trends

Explore high resolution graphs analyzing decades of U.S. missile defense budget trends featured in the CSIS report The Missile Defense Agency and the Color of Money: Fewer Resources, More Responsibilities,…

Thinking about the Unthinkable in a Highly Proliferated World

Thinking about the Unthinkable in a Highly Proliferated World

For decades, the United States has led the effort to stem the spread of nuclear weapons, both among potential adversaries and among its allies and partners. The current state of deterrence and of the nonproliferation regime, however, is open to many doubts…

JLENS Future Bleak, But Need for Capability Remains

JLENS Future Bleak, But Need for Capability Remains

Missile defense is not just about ballistic missiles. The wider problem of integrated air and missile defense, to include cruise missiles, has received growing attention in recent years. However, attempts to design and field an architecture to detect and track cruise missiles has proven challenging…

What North Korea’s Latest Missile Test Means for the US and Its Allies

What North Korea’s Latest Missile Test Means for the US and Its Allies

The Unha launch is hardly the basis for panic, but it is time for certain measures to ensure security and stability. Coming on the heels of the North’s fourth nuclear detonation, the launch reflects both continued technical advances and their sustained ICBM ambitions. These recent events mean that active measures to counter North Korea’s missile program will likely take on renewed importance.

North Korea’s February 2016 Satellite Launch

North Korea’s February 2016 Satellite Launch

On the morning of February 7, North Korea launched an Unha-type rocket, headed due south. The rocket then apparently orbited an “earth observation satellite” called Kwangmyongsong-4 (lode star), reportedly weighing 200 kilograms, about twice the size of a satellite by the same name orbited in December 2012…

Nuclear Option Weighed by ROK Lawmakers

Nuclear Option Weighed by ROK Lawmakers

North Korea’s fourth nuclear test has provoked renewed calls among leading South Korean lawmakers for South Korea to obtain its own nuclear deterrent force. Public opinion has also become more supportive of a nuclear-armed South Korea.

Distributed Lethality: Navy’s Doubling Down on Missiles

Distributed Lethality: Navy’s Doubling Down on Missiles

The Navy’s bold new “distributed lethality” (DL) concept could dramatically change naval operations both in terms of geographic dispersion and armaments of individual ships. By decreasing emphasis on manned aircraft,…

Op-Ed: Like It or Not, Containment Is What It Is

Op-Ed: Like It or Not, Containment Is What It Is

As bad as containment sounds, it may now be hard to accomplish more. Secretary of State John Kerry has emphatically denied that the United States is pursuing a containment strategy…

The Future of Homeland Missile Defense

The Future of Homeland Missile Defense

The annual Space and Missile Defense conference held August 11-14 in Huntsville, Alabama covered a wide range of topics, but the future of Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) program was among…

Ballistic and Cruise Missile Defense Advances

Ballistic and Cruise Missile Defense Advances

Several recent tests suggest progress for both ballistic and cruise missile defenses. On June 22, a Ground-based Interceptor (GBI) successfully destroyed a long-range target high above the Pacific. As the…