Navy Ducks Sat Shootdown Redo

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The U.S. Navy marshaled its resources quickly to shoot down a broken satellite recently, but there are no plans to stay ready for a repeat performance, a senior Navy official said Wednesday.

When the U.S. government decided that the falling spy satellite posed a risk, missile defense officials assembled a takedown plan within weeks. It worked -- last month, the Pentagon smacked the satellite out of the sky and demolished the bird's hydrazine fuel tank, which the military officials said could have survived re-entry and spilled its poisonous cargo.

Despite this success, the Missile Defense Agency ducked when asked whether it could spring into action faster for a repeat performance. It would depend on too many technical specifics to say, said Rear Adm. Alan "Brad" Hicks, Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense program manager, at a Navy League press conference.

He said there's no further work on the concept because last month's shootdown was a one-time event, so there's no active requirement for the technology to work against satellites on an ongoing basis.

"It is not a core mission. It is not a capability out there for us to use," Hicks said.

The U.S. Navy's satellite shootdown cost around $90 million, he said. That's not including additional costs for sensors, engineers and other support that isn't factored into the initial ballpark estimate.

-- Rebecca Christie

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