Fiscal 2008 MDA Budget Continues Major Missile Defense Programs
The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) budget request for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2008, would continue some level of support for major ballistic missile (BMD) programs according to an MDA budget briefing.
That funding would affect all the major defense contractors, which are involved in the many programs that comprise the multi-layered missile defense shield that the United States is assembling in the face of growing global threats.
One program, the High Altitude Airship, would be terminated.
Also, MDA envisions less emphasis on the Kinetic Energy Interceptor (KEI), relying more on the Airborne Laser (ABL) system to attack enemy missiles in their boost phase shortly after launch, Dave Altwegg, MDA deputy director for agency operations, said in briefing reporters today. KEI is “reduced” in the new budget, he said.
However, KEI (involving Northrop Grumman Corp. [NOC] and Raytheon Co. [RTN]) could return to a larger role if ABL stumbles in its development.
ABL involves a Boeing [BA] 747 aircraft, heavily modified, with a Northrop Grumman laser and a Lockheed Martin Corp. [LMT] control system. ABL must meet “knowledge points” leading up to a test in the last three months of fiscal 2009 of whether ABL can shoot down a target missile.
Thus far, ABL is making progress, Altwegg said.
BMD programs respond to rising threats posed by North Korea developing a long-range missile and testing an atomic weapon, Iran firing a missile from a submarine and beginning to produce nuclear materials, and more.
“Boeing will have a prominent role to play in construction of the third” missile site, in Europe, for the ground-based missile defense system, according to Altwegg. Construction will begin in fiscal 2008 for the new missile site providing protection against missiles fired by any Middle Eastern nation, he said. However, negotiations over the new site and capability aren’t yet complete.
Also, out of the roughly $2.4 billion in the budget for the ground-based program, some $1.7 billion to $1.8 billion of that would go to Boeing as lead systems integrator, and some of that money then would continue on to subcontractors.
The agency, however, faces a roughly $500 million potential budget shortfall.