Trump Administration Lists Concerns with 2018 Defense Bill

On July 12, the Trump Administration released a statement regarding its objections to specific provisions within the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Of its 27 listed objections, three concern U.S. missile and missile defense programs.

First, the administration objects to the provision on development of an intermediate-range ground-launched cruise missile, over concerns that the program could abrogate Article VI of the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty and limit U.S. military response options. This provision is part of a broader set of efforts introduced into the NDAA to address Russian violations of the INF treaty, which include the deployment of a new ground-launched variant of its Kalibr cruise missile.

Second, the administration objects to the requirement to deploy anti-air systems to defend the Aegis Ashore site in Romania and Poland against air and cruise missile strikes, citing diplomatic challenges as well as logistical and technical concerns. The Administration also objected to a provision that would require an intercept¬†test of the SM-3 Block IIA missile against an ICBM class target missile within 270 days of the bill’s enactment.

Lastly, the administration objects to the accelerated modernization of Army Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense Sensor (LTAMDS), which would require the Army to issue a strategy for the acquisition of a 360-degree sensor to better detect lower tier threats such as cruise missiles by 2018, and achieve initial operating capability of the sensor by 2022. The administration argues that the requirements and timelines in the provision are simply not feasible. The administration also takes issue with the related provision to shift responsibility for acquisition of the sensor from the Army to the Missile Defense Agency should the strategy not be delivered on time.

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