The Missile Defense Agency
The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) is a research, development, and acquisition agency within the Department of Defense. Our workforce includes government civilians, military service members, and contractor personnel in multiple locations across the United States. We are focused on retaining and recruiting a dedicated workforce interested in supporting our national security.
As we develop, test, and field an integrated Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS), the MDA works closely with the Combatant Commanders (e.g. Pacific Command, Northern Command, etc.) who will rely on the system to protect the United States, our forward deployed forces, and our friends and allies from hostile ballistic missile attack. We work with the Combatant Commanders to ensure that we develop a robust BMDS technology and development program to address the challenges of an evolving threat. We are also steadily increasing our international cooperation by supporting mutual security interests in missile defense.
The MDA is committed to maximizing the mission assurance and cost effectiveness of our management and operations through continuous process improvement.
The Missile Defense Agency’s (MDA) mission is to develop, test, and field an integrated, layered, ballistic missile defense system (BMDS) to defend the United States, its deployed forces, allies, and friends against all ranges of enemy ballistic missiles in all phases of flight.
National Missile Defense Act
It is the policy of the United States to deploy, as soon as is technologically possible, an effective National Missile Defense system capable of defending the territory of the United States against limited ballistic missile attack (whether accidental, unauthorized, or deliberate) with funding subject to the annual authorization of appropriations and the annual appropriation of funds for National Missile Defense.
— National Missile Defense Act of 1999 (Public Law 106-38 signed by President Clinton)
Four Focus Areas of Missile Defense
- Enhance missile defense to defend deployed forces, allies and friends against theater threats
- Continue a viable homeland defense against rogue state threats beyond 2030
- Prove missile defense works
- Develop technologies to hedge against future threat growth
MDA Strategic Goals
In order to achieve our mission, the MDA is dedicated to the following goals:
- Enhance missile defense to defend our deployed forces, allies, and friends against theater threats
- Continue a viable homeland defense against rogue nation threats through 2030 and beyond
- Prove our Ballistic Missile Defense System works through a well-substantiated, comprehensive, and affordable BMDS test program
- Develop technologies to hedge against future missile threat growth
- Achieve a high-performing and accountable workforce through enhanced retention, recruitment, and individual development
- Expand international cooperation and development of missile defenses in accordance with national defense policy
- Maximize mission assurance and the cost effectiveness of the MDA’s management and operations through lean six sigma and other initiatives
History of the Agency
The Missile Defense Agency traces its roots back to the origins of the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) program. President Reagan launched this initiative in 1983 to develop non-nuclear missile defenses. The SDI consolidated missile defense programs that were scattered among several government offices and molded them into a coherent program under the management of the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization (SDIO).
As the technologies developed under the original initiative evolved, so did the organization responsible for their management. In 1993, the SDIO was renamed the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO). The National Missile Defense Act of 1999 defined the mission for the BMDO, while the U.S. withdrawal the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM) in 2002 lessened the restrictions to develop and test these technologies.
In 2002, the BMDO was renamed the Missile Defense Agency. We continued to research and develop hit-to-kill technologies, and, in time, began to test and field elements of the ballistic missile defense system.
To learn more about U.S. missile defense efforts from 1945-present, check out the History Resources.
Agency Logo Evolution
Funding Missile Defense
The funding for the Ballistic Missile Defense program is proposed by the President each year and considered by Congress. In addition, the Congress often provides language with guidance on the conduct of the Ballistic Missile Defense program.
David Altwegg on Fiscal Year 2011 Budget for Missile Defense Agency (DoD News Briefing)
News transcript of DoD News Briefing focusing on the 2011 budget.
Historical Funding Chart (pdf)
The Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS)
Missile defense technology being developed, tested, and deployed by the United States is designed to counter ballistic missiles of all ranges – short, medium, intermediate, and long.
Since ballistic missiles have different ranges, speeds, size, and performance characteristics, the Ballistic Missile Defense System is an integrated, “layered” architecture that provides multiple opportunities to destroy missiles and their warheads before they can reach their targets.
The system’s architecture includes:
- networked sensors and ground- and sea-based radars for target detection and tracking
- ground- and sea-based interceptor missiles for destroying a ballistic missile using either the force of a direct collision, called “hit to kill” technology, or an explosive blast fragmentation warhead
- a command and control, battle management, and communications network providing the warfighter with the needed links among the sensors and interceptor missiles
Missile defense elements are operated by United States military personnel from U.S. Strategic Command, U.S. Northern Command, U.S. Pacific Command, U.S. Forces Japan, U.S. European Command and others. The United States has missile defense cooperative programs with a number of allies, including United Kingdom, Japan, Australia, Israel, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Poland, Italy and many others. The Missile Defense Agency also actively participates in NATO activities to maximize opportunities to develop an integrated NATO ballistic missile defense capability.