Over the last fifteen years, the Department of Defense spent more than $24 billion buying a mix of capabilities to defeat guided missile threats to U.S. and partner naval forces and land installations. Despite DoD's urgency, these investments have not resulted in air and missile defenses with sufficient capacity to counter large salvos of ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and other precision-guided munitions (PGMs) that can now be launched by America's enemies. This situation is partly the result of DoD's longstanding emphasis on fielding costly, long-range surface-to-air interceptors to defeat a small salvo of anti-ship cruise missiles or a handful of ballistic missiles launched by rogue states such as Iran and North Korea. It is also because the U.S. military has never fought an enemy who had the capability to strike distant targets with precision. In future conflicts, however, America's opponents can be expected to employ large numbers of sea-, air-, and ground-launched guided weapons to overwhelm limited defenses now protecting the U.S. military's forces and bases.
Senior Fellows Mark Gunzinger and Bryan Clark’s report Winning The Salvo Competition: Rebalancing America's Air And Missile Defenses includes a discussion of initiatives that could improve our nation's ability to counter guided weapon salvos that threaten its future ability to project power. This analysis also examines the emerging dynamic between militaries that have PGMs and capabilities to counter precision strikes in order to assess promising operational concepts and capabilities for air and missile defense.