Anti Missile Defense Shield On Alert By September
Washington (UPI) Apr 27, 2004
The Pentagon is likely to deploy its multi-billion dollar national missile defense system in Alaska in September even if it fails its flight tests this summer, the general in charge of the program said Tuesday.
"The flight tests are an important confirmation of what we think we already know," said Missile Defense Agency director Air Force L. Gen. Ronald Kadish at a breakfast with reporters.
Two flight tests are scheduled for June and August. At the same time, work continues on a "test bed" facility in Fort Greeley, AK, and Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA, that will house missiles and other hardware and command-and-control software. Those missiles could be put on alert as early as September, when the first five go into their silos.
Another three or four will be put into silos by December, and 10 more will be added in 2005, according to Kadish. The Pentagon has requested almost $10 billion for the program next year. Over the last 20 years the Pentagon has spent about $65 billion on the system, according to a program official.
The five missiles, if they are put on alert, would only be able to detect and intercept warheads coming from North Korea or the Pacific. Kadish said it will not be until the United States deploys a powerful radar at Flyingdales, Great Britain that a missile threat from Iran can be countered -- provided the system works as advertised.
The national missile defense system nets together a series of radars and missiles to detect enemy warheads in outer space. The missiles are then launched, where -- if all systems work -- they search out enemy warheads in space and slam into them at dizzying speeds, destroying the warheads before they re-enter the atmosphere.
The Pentagon has yet to conduct a truly realistic test of the system, but it has scored six direct hits. However, in those tests the general area and the radar signature of the mock enemy warhead was known in advance, and in only some were minimal countermeasures used to try to confuse the system.
The two tests this summer are going to be more realistic, Kadish said.
"I think we are all looking forward to getting that battery of tests out of the way so we can confirm the system works" as designed, he said.
"The criticism we get is we are not operationally testing the system before we put it in place; but you can't operationally test the system until you put it in place ... It's a circular argument I can't deal with."
Even if it fails, the White House might still decide to put the weapons on alert anyway. Kadish said the impact of the flight tests -- whether they succeed or fail -- is much different than earlier flight tests. Two successive failures in 2000 delayed the system by years.
"One flight test ... doesn't add very much" to the body of knowledge about the system.
"But if they both fail we've got big problems," he said.
The decision to put the missiles on alert could come even before September, he said.
"We're evaluating it almost daily and certainly on a regular basis," he said. "When the preponderance of evidence is that the system is capable then the decision will kick in."
He confirmed that even if the tests failed the system could be alert.
"When it goes on alert could be a function of many different things" including the threat posed by North Korea, which he said has not diminished.
"As I read the intelligence the threat hasn't changed. There is still a very high potential if you look at the threat," he said.
He said many countries have short-range ballistic missiles, and extending those to longer ranges "is not a very large leap of technology."
"We want to make sure the long-range threats don't appear ... and if they do they are way behind our ability to defend against them."
Kadish said the Pentagon is considering an additional European missile site as part of the program starting in 2006, an effort to protect U.S. allies from an Iranian-launched missile.
"A third site somewhere in Europe may make a lot of sense," he said.
Kadish said that the schedules for the flight test and alert decision -- which happen just before the presidential election, and would be a feather in President Bush's cap as a campaign promise made real -- are not politically driven.
"We don't pick the time. We don't do these things for anything other than technical reasons," he said. "If we did we would have done them at different times ... The timelines we are working on today are timelines set years ago for different reasons."
Kadish who has headed the missile defense program for five of the eight years he has been a lieutenant general, is confident the system will work as advertised.
"Any adversary who wants to go against this system ought to think more than twice," he said.
Kadish expects to retire in July.
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URS Wins Navy Contract For Missile Defense Theater Managament
San Francisco CA - Apr 21, 2004
URS Corp said Tuesday that the company's EG&G Division has been awarded an indefinite delivery/ indefinite quantity contract with the U.S. Navy to provide systems engineering support for missile defense, interoperability, Fleet-level assessments and intelligence programs/systems projects for the Theater Warfare Systems Department of the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Dahlgren, Virginia.
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