As discussed in my post of December 24, 2012, the FY 2013 Defense Authorization Act required the Department of Defense (DoD) to provide a report to Congress on testing of the Ground-Based Midcourse (GMD) national missile defense system. Specifically the report was to assess “the feasibility, advisability, and cost-effectiveness of accelerating the date for testing the GMD system against an ICBM-range target, and of conducting GMD flight tests at a pace of three tests every 2 years.”
Yesterday, Inside Defense SITREP reported that DoD’s response, which was delivered to Congress last fall but has not been publicly released, said that neither increase in the pace of testing was feasible. As I noted in my December 24 post, such a response was to be expected given previous statements by the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E).
However, if anything, it now appears possible that the test against an ICBM target may actually be further delayed rather than accelerated. For the last several years, MDA and DOT&E have been saying that the first GMD intercept of an ICBM target would take place in fiscal year 2015 (specifically in the 3rd quarter of calendar year 2015). Now, according to MDA spokesman Richard Lehner, the plan is for “a flight test against an ICBM target in the 2015-2016 time frame when an appropriate ICBM target becomes available.”
The report to Congress also repeated MDA’s argument (again see my post of December 24, 2012) that a GMD test pace of more than one test per year was not feasible because of the complexity of the tests. (In comparison, in 2013 the MDA conducted five successful intercept tests of exo-atmospheric SM-3 Aegis BMD interceptors in less than eight months – from February 12 to October 3.)
 Jason Sherman, “DOD To Congress: MDA Has No Plans To Accelerate Pace of GMD Testing,” Inside Defense SITREP, February 12, 2014.
Sherman, “DOD To Congress.”