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 1994, the SDIO was officially 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 from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty 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.