Agency: Anti-Missile Tests = Bad

The American missile defense system is so lame that more tests may only undermine its value as a deterrent.taurus3.jpgThat's the word from the Final Report of the Missile Defense Agency's Independent Review Team (IRT). The Washington Post first noted the report on Thursday. But Arms Control Wonk Jeffrey Lewis has combed through the document, and discovered its most controversial conclusions.The IRT recommends five changes, the cumulative effect of which will be to make testing less likely:1. Establish a More Rigorous Flight Readiness Certification Process2. Strengthen Systems Engineering3. Perform additional ground-based qualification testing as a requirement for flight testing4. Hold contractor functional organizations accountable for supporting prime contract management5. Assure that the GMD [ground-based midcourse defense] program is executableThe general effect of these recommendations is to create a presumption against conducting any scheduled flight testwhat the IRT calls "Prove why should fly." For good measure, the IRT recommends making the next integrated flight test a "non-intercept" test.Imagine that: First, MDA rushes a defense that wont defend to meet a deadline that just happens to coincide with a Presidential election. Then, MDA scales way back on necessary testing, lest the bad guys figure out the damn thing doesnt work.THERE'S MORE: "IRT is totally going to deny this is their purpose," the Wonk adds in an e-mail. But the team's assertion, that "'successful flight testing is a strategic issue' is so damning." As IRT notes...

The dissuasion and deterrence value of these assets will be:* Increased by successful flight tests* Decreased by unsuccessful flight tests
'Nuff said.
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