Remember that big cut to the missile defense budget? It could be coming back, if the anti-missile agency has its way."Although it expects to reduce spending in the next fiscal year, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) wants to ramp up its budget over the next four years to more than $10 billion annually by fiscal 2009, according to Defense Department budget documents," David Ruppe at the Global Security Newswire reports. That's about $2 billion a year more than what's currently spent.With the extra loot, the MDA plans to buy some more radars and sea-launched interceptor missiles. According to the Newswire, the agency also wants to "acquire by the end of 2009 an additional 20 land-based interceptor missiles through the midcourse program to bring the projected total to about 40."Now, buying more of the sea-going anti-missiles, that makes some sense. Those interceptors have been performing pretty well in recent tests. But the land-based missiles are another story. In trials, they've been flopping over and over again. A February test, in which fizzling ground support equipment kept the anti-missile from launching, was only most recent in a long string of examples. Why spend extra to get more of these clunkers?The Arms Control Wonk has more on the Missile Defense Agency's budget, including which programs got cut, and which "went black."THERE'S MORE: Inside Defense knows where the MDA wants to put $672.9 million of that extra luchre -- into space. Specifically, into an orbiting version of the non-explosive projectiles known as Kinetic Energy Interceptors, or KEIs. They're designed to knock down enemy missiles before they too far off of the ground.
Under the MDA's plan, in 2008 the agency will choose several contractors to design a space test bed... The following year, a contractor team or teams will be selected for the space test bed development and test phase, during which they will qualify the kill vehicles for space use, modify the KEI program's command and control system, develop the interceptor's motors and complete several other tasks.The team will be required to launch five space-based interceptors and perform space-based intercept testing against medium- to long-range ballistic missile targets, according to MDA. We anticipate the development and test phase to run through FY-15 [fiscal year 2015] in order to enter a production phase for a small space layer in FY-16, the agency said...The agency says a limited constellation of space-based interceptors, housed in 50 to 100 satellites, could offer a "thin boost/ascent defense against intercontinental range ballistic missiles..."Mixing the space-based interceptor with the KEI program offers the best defensive combination to defeat both rogue and near-peer adversaries, MDA told Congress.