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Congress has mandated the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) to expedite the development of interceptors capable of countering hypersonic weapons.

The agency is now required to achieve initial operational capability for its Glide Phase Interceptor (GPI) by the end of 2029, a significant advancement from the early 2030s timeline initially projected. This directive necessitates not only successful testing of the GPI against hypersonic missiles but also the deployment of at least 12 interceptors by the set deadline.

Israels Defence System Intercepts Rocket

The legislation further outlines that by the end of 2032, the program must reach full operational capability, including collaboration with space-based or terrestrial sensors expected to be deployed within the same timeframe. An ambitious target of having at least 24 GPIs fielded by 2040 is also set.

Congress has approved an additional $225 million in funding to support these accelerated goals, supplementing the MDA’s fiscal year 2024 request of $209 million for hypersonic defense development.

MDA’s current efforts involve collaboration with international partners, drawing parallels with the SM-3 Block IIA program developed with Japan. Companies like Raytheon Technologies and Northrop Grumman are leading the charge in creating interceptors for the MDA-led competition, each receiving substantial investment to date. The complexity of designing interceptors that can neutralize hypersonic missiles, which travel at speeds exceeding Mach 5 and can maneuver during flight, poses a significant technical challenge.

With global adversaries like Russia and China advancing in hypersonic weapon technology, the urgency for the United States to develop an effective defense system is real.


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