MISSILE DEFENSE BOOSTER FAILS TO RISE TO THE OCCASSIONThe Missile Defense Agency's Integrated Flight Test (IFT)-13C was aborted "after the interceptor missile experienced an anomaly shortly before it was to be launched." The target, perhaps representing a North Korean ICBM hurtling toward a U.S. city, performed flawlessly.Let's be clear: This test was a big deal. Thomas Christie, the Pentagon' Director of Operational Test and Evaluation, told Congress in February that the test would be "significant exercise of the Test Bed infrastructure" and would address "a long-standing concern over target presentation that has not yet been tested."Congress agreed: The FY 2005 Defense Appropriations Bill identifies the test by name, saying that "Integrated Flight Test-13C scheduled for August 200" represents an important milestone.
Accordingly, the conferees direct the Director of the Missile Defense Agency to provide a report to the congressional defense committees within 30 days of the conclusion of IFT-13C, in both classified and unclassified form, including a detailed assessment of the results of IFT-13C.Can't wait for that report. Each test costs about 100 million bucks.I've posted a slightly obscene op-ed I wrote about alternative uses for Missile Defense Agency funding over on Arms Control Wonk.comThe Bulletin of Atomic Scientists weblog has a comment, with a couple of worthwhile links.Finally, MDA is not without a sense of irony. Yesterday, MDA awarded Boeing a $928 million contract for FY 05-07 for "construction and non-construction efforts required to field the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) Block 2006 Capability Enhancement (CE) Program."Ideally, the "enhancement" in mind includes a booster that works. Or not.--Jeffrey Lewis