MDA Announces New Approach to Manage Ground-based Midcourse Defense

MDA Announces New Approach to Manage Ground-based Midcourse Defense
Vice Adm. Jon Hill Director Missile Defense Agency

The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) has reported the need for a new approach to managing the ground-based, anti-missile system to protect the nation, Defense News reported on Friday. Vice Adm. Jon Hill, MDA director, reported that the increased competition has required the agency to increase innovation and new solutions for the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system (GMD). 

Hill announced that the MDA plans to establish a weapon system integrator  as opposed to a lead system integrator, which would assume responsibility for the system’s design, development, test, evaluation and system performance. 

MDA could lead the design and implementation of solutions, but would need support with integration of all the GMD elements, a function MDA’s weapon system integrator concept should perform. Technical design authority and program decisions should be retained by MDA.

The Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) Oct. 2020 missile defense report stated that the lead system integrator approach has “contributed to poor acquisition outcomes and diminished government oversight, transparency, and engineering acumen in the acquisition community.”

GAO also reported that “the lead system integrator approach can create transparency issues that could make it more difficult for the federal agency or Congress to adequately manage and conduct effective oversight and potentially increase the risk of cost overruns, schedule slippage, poor product quality, and inadequate system performance.”

As MDA formulates the weapon system integrator concept for GMD, as well as the contract, the agency will have to enhance communication between MDA and subcontractor subject matter experts or weapons system operators and foster a collaborative approach to management between MDA and all of GMD’s supporting contractors.

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