GAO: GMD National Missile Defense Program Costs To Exceed $40 Billion (March 28, 2013)

The 2013 GAO annual “Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs” was posted today.[1]  It shows that the projected cost of the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) national missile defense program now exceeds $40 billion, at $40,926 billion.  This is an increase of about $1.76 billion over last year’s figure of $39,162 billion.  It includes costs from the program start in 1996 through FY 2017.   However, this $40+ billion cost estimate is as of August last year, and thus does not include the roughly $1 billion for 14 additional interceptors announced two weeks ago.  The current report says “GMD consists of of an interceptor with a three-stage booster and kill vehicle and a fire control system, which formulates battle plans and direct components that are integrated with BMDS radars,” which seems to imply that the radars  are not included in these cost figures.  However, reports from previous years indicate that radars costs such as those for the new Sea-Based X-band radar and upgrades to the Cobra Dane and other Early Warning Radars are included.


[1] Government Accountability Office, “Defense Acquisitions: Assessments of Selected Weapons Programs,” March 2013, p. 45.

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Update on TPY-2 X-Band Radars (March 24, 2013)

Raytheon announced last week that it had delivered the 8th TPY-2 X-band radar to the U.S. Missile Defense Agency.[1]  This radar is now being used by the 3rd Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery, which was activated late last year at Fort Bliss, Texas.[2]  The previous radar, #7, was delivered in 2010, however, funding issues subsequently led to an 18 month break in production.  A TPY-2 currently takes about 30 months to build.

In addition, Congressional appropriations conferees reportedly recently agreed on funding for an additional (second) TPY-2 in FY 2013.[3]

FTI-01Map

FTI-01, held on October 25 2012, involved two TPY-2 radars, one as a forward-based X-band radar and one as a THAAD fire control radar, located on different islands of the Kwajalein Atoll.  (Image source: Missile Defense Agency)

A TPY-2 radar can be configured either as a forward-based radar for detecting, tracking, and discriminating ballistic missile targets or as a fire control radar for a THAAD missile defense battery.   In principle, a radar can be switched between the two configurations in about eight hours.

Currently four TPY-2s are deployed as forward based radars, in northern Japan, Israel, Turkey and Qatar.  A fifth is planned for deployment in the near future to central Japan. The other three TPY-2s are deployed as THAAD radars at Fort Bliss, two with each of the first two THAAD batteries, which are operational, and one with the third battery, which is in training.

According to Raytheon, TPY-2s #9 and #10 are about halfway built and construction of TPY-2 #11 has just begun.[4]  These are intended for THAAD batteries four, five and six.

The FY 2012 MDA budget, released in February 2012, reduced the planned number of TPY-2 radars to eleven and the number of THAAD batteries to six, from fourteen and nine respectively.  Earlier, as many as many as eighteen TPY-2s and thirteen THAAD batteries had been planned.

The second TPY-2 radar for FY 2013 would thus be radar number twelve.  This purchase of this radar was described as necessary to prevent a temporary shutdown of the production line in FY 2014, despite foreign sales of four radars as part of THAAD batteries, two to the United Arab Emirates and two to Qatar.  It is unclear (to me) how this twelfth radar will be deployed.


[1] Raytheon Helps Missile Defense Agency Counter Ballistic Missiles with Delivery of 8th AN/TPY-2 radar,” News Release, Raytheon Company, March 2013.  Available at: http://raytheon.mediaroom.com/index.php?s=43&item=2297

[2] “Lawmakers Fund Second AN/TPY-2 Radar in FY-13 Appropriations Bill,” Inside Defense SITREP, March 20, 2013.

[3] “Lawmakers Fund Second AN/TPY-2.”

[4] “Lawmakers Fund Second AN/TPY-2.”

Is Guam Covered by the U.S. GMD National Missile Defense System? (March 21, 2013)

In light of recent developments involving North Korea, including its threat this week to attack Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, questions have been raised about how well the U.S. territory was defended against a ballistic missile attack.     Some in Guam have interpreted the statements made by Undersecretary  of Defense James Miller and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral James Winnefeld at a March 15 press conference that the current U.S. Ground Based Midcourse (GND) system covers “all the United States” and “the entire United States” as indicating that the system covers Guam. The response by Undersecretary Miller is particularly significant as he was specifically asked about “American possessions in Western Pacific — Samoa, Guam, those areas.”  On Monday, Guam’s (non-voting) delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives, Madeleine Z. Bordallo, explicitly stated in a letter that this was the case:  “Additionally, I am aware that DoD officials are confident that the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense System will provide protection not only for the continental United States, but for Guam as well.

In fact, it is clear that this is not the case.  The figure below, from the 2010 Ballistic Missile Defense Review, shows the coverage of the GMD system against an ICBM from North Korea (I have added the arrow indicating Guam’s location).

Guam3

Coverage of the U.S. Ground Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) against a North Korean ICBM.  The red arrow indicates Guam’s location. (Map from the Ballistic Missile Defense Review, p.15.)

As this figure shows, Guam lies more than 1,000 km beyond the perimeter that the GMD system is capable of covering.  This is hardly surprising as Guam is less than 3,500 km from North Korea, but about 7,500 km from the GMD interceptors in Alaska (the interceptors in California are even further away).

A seemingly more accurate description of the ability of U.S. missile defenses to cover Guam is this week’s response to a question from the Pacific News Center by the U.S. Joint Region Marianas:

“The Department of Defense fully intends to defend the United States and its territories from any ballistic missile attack.  The United States maintains a range of ballistic missile defense capabilities that could be deployed in Guam’s defense in times of crisis.”

That is, Guam is not defended against ballistic missile on a routine basis, but in “times of crisis” Patriot, Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), or Aegis SM-3 missile defense systems could be forward-deployed to Guam or its vicinity.  This approach apparently assumes at least some advance notice of a potential attack.  However, Representative Bordallo’s letter also stated that “I look forward to a more permanent Aegis missile defense capability in the future.”  Guam has been cited as a possible future site for an Aegis Ashore ballistic missile defense system (such as those planned for Romania and Poland) by the system’s manufacturer (Lockheed Martin).  Back in 2009-10, plans to deploy both a THAAD and a Patriot battery to Guam were being discussed, but this never happened.

National Missile Defense: The $1 Billion Cost Figure for the Fourteen New GBI Interceptors (March 19, 2013)

At a March 15, 2013 press conference (transcript), U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced that U.S. would increase the number of Ground-Based Interceptors (GBIs) deployed as part of its Ground-Based Midcourse (GMD) national missile defense system from the current 30 to 44 by the end of 2017.  At the press conference, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy James Miller said that their estimate was this deployment would cost just under $1 billion.  Dr. Miller explained that this cost would include both the 14 additional interceptors and the cost of recommissioning Missile Field One at Fort Greely, Alaska.  Does this cost seem plausible?

FortGreely

The Missile Defense Complex at Fort Greely, Alaska.   The missile fields are at the left, with Missile Field 2 still under construction  (MF = missile field, MEB = missile electrical building).  Source:  http://www.mda.mil/global/documents/pdf/GMD_DSC_Focused_Transition_brief.pdf

The U.S. currently has thirty GBIs deployed.  Four are deployed at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.  The other 26 are deployed at Fort Greely Alaska in Missile Field 3 (20 silos) and the more recent Missile Field 2 (14 silos).  The original Missile Field 1 (six silos) was shut down after the other missile fields became available.  The new plan would purchase fourteen additional GBIs and deploy them at Fort Greely by filling in the eight empty silos in Missile Fields 2 & 3 and by reactivating the six silos of Missile Field 1.

How Much To Recommission Missile Field 1?

The cost of recommissioning Missile Field 1 is greater than one might expect.  The six silos of of this missile field one were, like the GBI interceptors that were put in them, deployed very rapidly in order to meet President Bush’s goal of having an operational capability by the end of the 2004 fiscal year.  According to one source, the construction of the field was completed with “27 minutes to spare.”[1]

As might be expected, problems ensued both with the GBIs and the silos.  Some indication of the issues involved in recommissioning Missile Field 1 is given by the following written response (2010) by Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Michael B. Mullen to a question from Alaska Senator Mark Begich:

“Once Missile Field 2 is fully operational, Missile Field 1 will be decommissioned since it was designed as a test bed only and is not hardened or sufficiently reliable for a long-term operational deployment.  Specifically, Missile Field 1 lacks backup power and has significant infrastructure reliability issues.  These reliability issues include extensive mold contamination in the Missile Field 1 utilidor, requiring personnel to suit up for a hazardous environment; inadequate valve connections in the chilled water system, resulting in leaks of glycol, and dust intrusion in Mechanical Electrical Building 1.  The Missile Field 2 design includes shielding and addresses the reliability concerns of Missile Field 1.”[2]

Some additional information relevant to the above statement may be useful.  First, at the time, as Gates and Mullen indicate, the plan was that Missile Field 1 would be “decommissioned.”  Decommissioning basically involves returning the site to its pre-construction state and would have been both costly and irreversible.  Under pressure from Congress, it was subsequently decided to place the missile field in storage instead, from which it could be returned to service in about two years.  Second, while a “dust intrusion” might not seem like a serious problem, the dust was apparently getting into electrical switchgear, with potentially “catastrophic impacts.”  Finally, a “utilidor” is a apparently a utility corridor.

The only cost estimate I have seen for re-commissioning the missile field is from 2010, when MDA Director Lt. General Patrick O’Reilly told Congress that the cost to reactivate the six silos of Missile Field 1 would be “on the order of $200 million”:

“So we would need to remediate that.  We’d need to actually remove almost all of the active components of that missile field and replace them with newer ones.  The time frame with that would be on the order of two years. The costs that we have looked at in the past when we looked at different options would be on the order of – and this has been done several years ago, sir, so the cost are somewhat approximate – would be on the order of $200 million.”[3]

How much for the Fourteen New GBI Interceptors?

If we assume $200 million for the missile field, this still leaves up to $800 million for the fourteen new GBI interceptors, or up to about $57 million per interceptor.  This seems quite low.

As discussed in my post of July 24, up through 2011, cost estimates for a new GBI interceptor were consistently about $70 million each.  As discussed in that post, the $70 million figure does not include the roughly $20 million per interceptor needed for repairs and retrofits.

Information that has subsequently become available indicates that current cost per interceptor may be significantly higher.  The September 2012 Report by the National Academy of Sciences (p. 255) included the following cost breakdown for each GBI in a buy of five interceptors (data provided by the MDA, in FY 2010 dollars):

GBI Cost Element                                          Unit Cost (million $)

EKV (kill vehicle)                                                             29.8

Booster stack                                                                     19.8

Booster avionics modules                                                6.5

Integration, assembly, test and checkout                     4.1

————————————————–          —————————————-

Total cost                                                                           70.2

Note that the single largest cost element is the kill vehicle, which at $29.8 million is about 42% of the total cost of a GBI.  The NAS Report does not indicate whether this cost was for the older CE-I version of the kill vehicle or the newer CE-II version (which will be the version deployed by 2017 on the fourteen new interceptors, assuming that it succeeds in its next test).  However, the NAS Report noted that 2011 MDA budget documents indicated that the next batch of seven of CE-II kill vehicles was expected to cost about $39 million each, an increase of over $9 million per kill vehicle. In addition, the MDA told the NAS Panel that it was budgeting $85 million for its next batch of five GBI interceptors.

The Bottom Line

Based on the above discussion, the available data suggest a cost of about $200 + 14($70-$85) million ≈ $1.2 – $1.4 billion for the deployment of the fourteen additional interceptors, 20-40% great than the cost of just under $1 billion provided at the press conference.


[1] Elliot Blair Smith and Gopal Ratnam, “$35B Missile Defense Misses Bullet With Bullet,” Bloomberg.com, August 3, 2011.  The entire article is well worth reading and is available at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-08-03/missile-defense-costing-35-billion-misses-bullets-with-bullets.html.

[2] Written response by Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates and Joint Chief of Staff Chairman Admiral Michael G. Mullen , Senate Armed Services Committee, February 2, 2010, p. 128.  Available at: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CHRG-111shrg62155/pdf/CHRG-111shrg62155.pdf

[3] Response of Lt. General Patrick O’Reilly to a question from Representative Michael Turner.  Hearing of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee, House Armed Services Committee, April 15, 2010.

National Missile Defense: Ground-Based Interceptor (GBI) Testing Update. Why so long until the next CE-II Test? Is it because of “fly before you buy?” (March 18, 2013)

At last Friday’s Pentagon press conference announcing plans to deploy 14 additional Ground-Based  interceptors (GBIs) in existing silos as part the of current Ground-Based Midcourse (GMD) national missile defense system, a revision to the GBI intercept testing program was also revealed.

EKVPrototype

A prototype version  of the EKV kill vehicle (Photograph: http://www.mda.mil/global/images/system/gmd/ift9-kv.jpg)

The new version of the GBI’s kill vehicle, the Capability Enhancement II (CE-II), failed to intercept its targets in its only two flight tests, both in 2010.  As a result, deliveries of new CE-II kill vehicles have been suspended (and the CE-I version can no longer be built). As of the end of 2012, the plan was that the next GBI flight test would be CTV-01, a non-intercept attempt flight with a modified CE-II kill vehicle.  If this test, scheduled for early 2013, succeeded, then an intercept test (FTG-06b) using a CE-II kill vehicle would be conducted this summer, and if this test succeeded, then deliveries of the CE-II kill vehicle could resume.

The non-intercept test CTV-01 was successfully conducted in January.  However, at the March 15 press conference, it was stated that the FTG-06b intercept test of the CE-II kill vehicle would be delayed until at least the fall, and that in its place a test using the earlier CE-I kill vehicle would be conducted this summer.  According to Admiral James Winnefeld, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, “We’re going to flight-test the CE-1 this summer, and we are going to hopefully flight-test the CE-2 after we build it this fall.”

When asked about the reason for the delay in the CE-II intercept test (which must be successfully completed before deliveries of new interceptors can resume), the Pentagon representatives said it was  because they had just started to build the CE-II kill vehicle, and that building it was a lengthy process.

In response to a question about where they were in the process of preparing for the test, Admiral Winnefeld stated that: “They’re — they’ve started assembling — you know, acquiring the components and assembling the additional EKV.  And that’s a — that’s a very technical piece of equipment; it takes a while to put together.”

Now if you have not been following the story of the CE-II closely, it might seem somewhat surprising that they have to wait many months until an entirely new CE-II kill vehicle is assembled from scratch.  After, all, there are already ten CE-IIs deployed in silos.  A brief review of the history of the CE-II can shed some light on what is going on.

The first GBIs deployed in 2004 and were equipped with the original CE-I kill vehicle (see the post of March 28 for a GBI deployment chronology).  Twenty four of these were ultimately deployed, the last in September 2007.  However, in the rush to deploy, these kill vehicles were built with parts that were not sustainable, and thus in 2005 the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) began develop a new version, the CE-II kill vehicle.  Although the primary reason for the developing the new kill vehicle was obsolescence of components, some improvements in capability were also made.  The first GBI with the new CE-II kill vehicle was deployed in October 2008.

The first flight and intercept test of a GBI with a CE-II kill vehicle was conducted in January 2010, and failed due to a quality control problem.  The second CE-II intercept test in December 2010 also failed, this time apparently due to a design flaw in a part new to the CE-II version, a fundamental and much more serious problem.  Following this failure, the MDA announced that all deliveries of CE-IIs would be suspended.

The plan the MDA ultimately announced to address the problem with the CE-II involved two flight tests.  The first test would be a flight test with no target.  This test would use a CE-II with the part that was believed to be defective, but with mitigations for the problems it was believed to be causing.  The kill vehicle would conduct maneuvers in space to confirm the cause of the problem, which was believed to be caused by high-frequency vibrations from the kill vehicle’s maneuvering rocket thrusters.  If this test was successful (and it was successfully carried out in January), a second test would be conducted using a new replacement part for the defective component.  If this second test, which would be an intercept test, was successful, then production and deliveries of new CE-II kill vehicles would resume.

The problem here is that the defective component that is being replaced is at the very core of the kill vehicle, and is one of the first parts required in the assembly process.  If the MDA waited until the January test successfully confirmed the nature of the problem before building new CE-II, as it appears they have done, then construction of a brand new CE-II for the next test would then have to start from the beginning, a process that apparently takes many months.  The testing delay in this case thus appears to be actually attributable to following a “fly before you buy” (or in this case “fly before you build)” process.  At the March 15 press conference, both Admiral Winnefeld and Undersecretary of Defense for Policy James Miller attributed the delay in testing to following a fly before you buy process.

Not so good from a “fly before you buy” perspective are the ten GBIs armed with CE-II kill vehicles with the defective part that are already deployed in silos in Alaska and California.  These kill vehicles will have to be pulled from the silos, almost completely disassembled, and then reassembled with the new part, at a cost that the GAO last year estimated as about $18 million each.[1]


[1] Government Accountability Office, “Missile Defense: Opportunity Exists to Strengthen Acquisitions by Reducing Concurrency,” GAO-12-486, April 2012, p. 78.  Available at: http://www.gao.gov/assets/600/590277.pdf.

U.S. Announces EPAA Phase IV cancellation, increase in number of GMD national missile defense interceptors from 30 to 44 (March 15, 2013)

At a Pentagon press conference today, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced that the planned deployment of the high-speed SM-3 Block IIB interceptor to Poland (and the corresponding 4th phase of European Phased Adaptive Approach) has been cancelled. The transcript of Hagel’s prepared statement only states that the Block IIB programmed was being restructured, but the discussion in the following press conference makes it clear that the deployment plan has been cancelled:

In response to a question at the press conference, James Miller, the Undersecretary of Defense of Policy said (my transcription from C-SPAN video):
“The prior plan had four phases. The third phase involved the deployment of interceptors in Poland. And we will continue phases one through three. In the fourth phase in the previous plan we would have added some additional — an additional type of interceptors –the so called SM-3 IIB would have been added to the mix in Poland. We no longer intend to add them to the mix but will have the same number of deployed interceptors in Poland that will provide coverage for all of NATO Europe.”

In the prior plan, Block IIA interceptors would have been deployed in Poland as part of Phase III of the EPAA and then in Phase IV some or all of these would have been replaced by Block IIB interceptors. Whether the Block IIB development program is completely dead is unclear. This is a very significant development given that the Block IIB was the single greatest source of Russian objections to U.S. missile defense activities. Although there are certainly also good technical and economic reasons for cancelling the Block IIB, it will thus inevitably be portrayed as to be a major concession to Russia. Whether it will be actually be enough to satisfy the Russians remains to be seen, as many Russian statements have also objected to the unlimited deployment of the high-speed (although not as fast) Block IIA interceptor.

As was clearly the goal of the press conference, most media attention focused on the comparatively minor announcement that the number of deployed GBI interceptors in the U.S Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system covering the United States would be increased to 44 from the current 30. This involves deploying 14 additional GBI interceptors into 14 already existing silos (although in some cases, these silos need extensive refurbishing – see my post of March 28, 2012 for details) by the end of 2017. The planned number of interceptors was already at 44 when Obama took office, but his administration quickly cut this back to 30, citing a lack of a threat. Since then the possibility of restoring the number of interceptors to 44 has frequently been portrayed by the Administration as a possible hedge against future changes in the threat.

The other two items that Secretary Hagel announced were that a second TPY-2 X-band radar would be deployed to Japan and that the Department of Defense was conducting an Environmental Impact Study for an potential additional GBI interceptor site (in the eastern U.S.). However, as was acknowledged in the press conference, neither was a new development: Secretary Panetta had previously announced the radar to Japan and Congress had already mandated environmental impact studies be done for at least two east coast sites (the location of which have not yet been announced).

European Phased Adaptive Approach Missile Defense: Phase IV Now 2022 or Later? (March 14, 2012)

For the past year or so, DoD and MDA officials have been saying that the deployment of the high-speed SM-3 Block IIB interceptor, the key element of the planned Phase IV of the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA,) would be delayed from its originally planned date of 2020 to at least 2021.

For example, below are two excerpts from a February 22, 2013 presentation by MDA Director Vice Admiral James D. Syring, showing that while Phase IV is still in the “2020 timeframe” the Block IIB missile is now scheduled for 2021.

BlockII-2022

Figure is two excerpts from: VADM J. D. Syring (Director, Missile Defense Agency), “Ballistic Missile Defense Update,”  Briefing Slides, American Society of Naval Architects, February 22, 2013. 

However, it now appears that the Block II interceptor has slipped to at least 2022. On March 12, at a Conference at the Atlantic Council, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy James N. Miller, in response to a question from Tom Collina of the Arms Control Association, stated that:

“The reality is that with the underfunding of our request from Congress for FY 12 and with the continuing resolution this year, our ability to deploy an SM-3 IIB has slipped at least two years to the right relative to what we had previously planned”

A video of Mr. Miller’s presentation (and the Q and A) at the conference on “The United States and Global Missile Defense” is available .

At the end of last week, the MDA removed its “Program Overview Briefing” slides (which dated from August 2012) from its “Downloadable Resources” on its website, replacing them with “Briefing slides coming soon.”  It will be interesting to see the year for Phase IV on these.

Another Claim about the Effectiveness of the GMD National Missile Defense System (March 8, 2013)

I have updated (now with 16 claims) my compilation of official claims about the effectiveness of the United States GMD national missile defense with White House Press Secretary Jay Carney’s comments from yesterday. At the daily White House press briefing, in response to a question. Mr. Carney stated that.

“I can tell you that the United States is fully capable of defending against any North Korean ballistic missile attack.  And our recent success in returning to testing of the upgraded version of the so-called GBI, or the CE2 missile, will keep us on a good trajectory to improve our defense capability against limited ballistic missile threats such as those from North Korea.  But let’s be clear, we are fully capable of dealing with that threat.”

For perspective, it should be noted that the “CE2 missile” interceptor cited by Mr. Carney has, in fact, failed in both its intercept tests.  The recent successful test of this interceptor raised by Mr. Carney, did not involve a target, much less an intercept attempt.  The test, labeled CTV-01 and conducted in January,  involved putting the kill vehicle through a series of maneuvers in order to determine if a vibration problem caused by firing its maneuvering thrusters has been solved (see graphic below — click on it for a larger image).  This test was reportedly successful and a third attempt to intercept a target with a CE-2 kill vehicle will likely occur in the next few months.

CTV-01figure

CTV-01 Test (Image source: VADM J. D. Syring (Director, Missile Defense Agency), “Ballistic Missile Defense Update,”  Briefing Slides, American Society of Naval Architects, February 22, 2013.

Earlier versions of the GBI interceptor have reportedly been successful on eight out of thirteen intercept attempts.   This includes three out of three for the operationally configured CE-1 version of the GBI (although as has been noted several times in this blog, in one reportedly successful test the interceptor did not achieve a “kill” of its warhead target), which was most recently intercept-tested in December 2008.

Ballistic Missile Defense: What Happened with the Block IA intercept in FTI-01? (What Does a Yellow Check Mark Mean?) (March 6, 2013)

fti01a

Integrated flight test FTI-01, conducted by the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) on October 25, 2012, involved the near-simultaneous interception of three ballistic missile and two cruise missile targets.  According to a MDA news release issued on the day of the test, four of the intercept attempts were successful.[1]  For the fifth intercept attempt, however, involving an Aegis Block IA interceptor against a short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) target, it was reported that, although the interceptor appeared to fly out normally, “there was no indication of an intercept” of its target.  News reports have since described the intercept attempt as failure.[2] The BMDS section of  DOT&E’s 2012 Annual Report describes the engagement as unsuccessful.  And the MDA’s ongoing intercept test scorecard shows the intercept attempt as a failure, as shown below:

fti01b

(From Missile Defense Agency, “Ballistic Missile Defense Intercept Flight Record,” Fact Sheet, February 13, 2013.)

However, in a February 22 2013 briefing, new MDA Director Vice Admiral James D. Syring presented a slide showing the outcome of the intercept as “Engaged: Intercept Not Confirmed” and scored with a yellow check mark.  The slide is below.

fti01c

(From: VADM J. D. Syring (Director, Missile Defense Agency), “Ballistic Missile Defense Update,”  Briefing Slides, American Society of Naval Architects, February 22, 2013. 

What does this mean?  Does it indicate that, roughly three months after the intercept test, MDA still hasn’t determined if the target was successfully intercepted?  This immediately call to mind the situation with the FTG-02 NMD test, in which the fact that the “successful intercept” did not actually destroy the target was not publicly revealed until more than five years after the test.  However, even that test gets a green check mark in MDA’s intercept test scorecard:

fti01d

So what does the yellow check mark mean?  If they don’t know what happened, why not a question mark?  Maybe as more information comes out, we’ll find out.


[1] Missile Defense Agency, “Ballistic Missile Defense System Engages Five Targets Simultaneously During Largest Missile Defense Flight Test in History,” New Release, October 25, 2012.  Available at: http://www.mda.mil/news/12news0011.html.

[2] For example: “The MDA is studying why Aegis, a ship-based radar program led by Lockheed Martin, and its SM-3 Block 1A missile, manufactured by Raytheon, failed to shoot down its short-range ballistic missile target.” Amy Butler, “Countering the Raid,” Aviation Week and Space Technology, November 5, 2012, p. 37.