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Bush Seeks $9.336 Billion For Missile Defense Agency In FY09

By | February 4, 2008

      Missile Defense Systems Needed As Missile Threat Increases

      President Bush would provide $9.336 billion for the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2009, up 7.9 percent from the $8.655 billion in the current fiscal 2008, under the budget plan that Bush today sent to Congress for its review and approval.

      That would include $6.9 billion for development and testing of new and existing missile defense platforms, $1.7 billion for fielding of existing capabilities including the sea- based Aegis ballistic missile defense (BMD) system, and $700 million for sustainment of assets already fielded.

      The White House — Office of Management and Budget provided a higher estimate of total fiscal 2009 outlays, roughly $10.4 billion.

      In later years, the MDA document indicates funding would rise to a total $9.447 billion in fiscal 2010, $9.459 billion in fiscal 2011, $9.623 billion in fiscal 2012, and $9.778 billion in fiscal 2013, for a grand total of $56.298 billion in fiscal 2008 through 2013, according to an MDA budget document.

      The funds would help the United States to erect a multi-layered shield against a rapidly worsening ballistic missile threat, as nations around the globe acquire the weapons, according to David Altwegg, who delivered the MDA budget briefing to journalists at the Pentagon.

      The threat "just gets more complicated by the day," Altwegg said, while adding that he can’t cite just which nations pose the greatest danger to the United States, because that information is classified.

      He added, however, that it is clear that North Korea continues working to develop a long-range missile capability, beyond a missile that it fired in an arc over Japan in the 1990s. In July 2006, North Korea fired a series of missiles, and all were successful except the one long-range missile in the group.

      Aegis Missile Defense

      Bush seeks $1.158 billion for the Aegis sea-based ballistic missile defense system in fiscal 2009, up from the $1.126 billion appropriated for the current fiscal 2008.

      Aegis involves a Lockheed Martin Corp. [LMT] target acquisition and weapons control and guidance system, and a Raytheon Co. [RTN] Standard Missile interceptor that actually kills the incoming enemy ballistic missile. This ballistic missile defense (BMD) system has achieved repeated successes in tests against various target missiles conducted near Hawaii.

      For the Airborne Laser (ABL) BMD system, Bush seeks only about $405.8 million, down from the comparable figure of $474.8 million in the current fiscal 2008. The Bush budget doesn’t provide outlays in fiscal 2009 for acquisition of a second ABL aircraft, Altwegg said.

      Last year, the Airborne Laser program had a near-death experience, when a House authorizing subcommittee voted to slash Bush’s $549 million fiscal 2008 request down to $149 million. But by the time the dust settled, the full Congress appropriated actual spending for the Airborne Laser program totaling $510 million in the current year, figured a different way.

      Unlike other systems in the overall U.S. ballistic missile defense shield, the Airborne Laser moves U.S. armed forces into the future by using a directed energy beam to kill the enemy ballistic missile in its most vulnerable phase, just after it lifts off from the launch pad or silo, before the enemy weapon has time to spew forth confusing chaff, multiple warheads or decoys.

      The system is mounted on a giant, heavily-modified 747 aircraft supplied The Boeing Co. [BA], using a high-powered chemical oxygen iodine laser, or COIL, by Northrop Grumman Corp. [NOC] to generate a beam that is directed at the enemy missile by a Lockheed Martin beam control/fire control system in the nose of the plane.

      Thus far, the ABL program is on schedule, and has met its development milestones, on course to face its ultimate test next year, when it is to shoot down a ballistic missile in flight.

      Once deployed, the ABL would provide by far the cheapest way to create a defense against enemy ballistic missiles, because it costs far less to shoot a laser beam than to fire an interceptor missile to counter the enemy threat, Altwegg said. However, first there would be the expense of acquiring the planes filled with lasers.

      In future years, the MDA budget request seeks $384.6 million for ABL in capability development funds in fiscal 2010, $609.5 million in fiscal 2011, $752.1 million in fiscal 2012, and $937.8 million in fiscal 2013, for a total in fiscal 2008 through 2013 of $3.565 billion.

      Kinetic Energy Interceptor

      For the Kinetic Energy Interceptor, the $326.6 million of capability development funds in fiscal 2008 would rise to $375.7 million in fiscal 2009, $478.6 million in fiscal 2010, $666 million in fiscal 2011, $769.2 million in fiscal 2012, and $514.1 million in fiscal 2013, for a total of $3.13 billion in fiscal 2008 through 2013.

      For the Aegis program, the MDA budget lists appropriations of $1.126 billion for the current fiscal 2008, $1.158 billion for fiscal 2009, $1.234 billion for fiscal 2010, $1.079 billion for fiscal 2011, $1.067 billion for fiscal 2012, and $1.103 billion for fiscal 2013, for a total of $6.766 billion for fiscal 2008 through 2013.

      For the European Interceptor site, the MDA budget lists a request of a $132.6 million appropriation in fiscal 2009, and $528.8 million in fiscal 2010. The document also calls for $108.6 million for the European mid-course radar in fiscal 2009, and $67.5 million in fiscal 2010.

      The Bush administration is urging the Czech Republic to agree to host a radar site for the Ground-based Midcourse Defense site in Europe, and also is asking Poland to host a site for silos containing interceptor missiles. No final agreement has yet been reached, though progress has been reported in talks. At this point, Congress has stated that funds for the European project can’t be used for construction there until the Czechs and Poles agree to host the system. But the funds can be used for development, including production of silos that — should the Europeans not agree to host the GMD system — could be as easily installed in, say, Alaska, according to Altwegg.

      He was asked by Space & Missile Defense Report just how credible are Russian claims that they have developed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) that can elude any U.S. ballistic missile defense systems.

      Altwegg smiled, and noted that the U.S. position is that it is developing missile defense systems to counter ballistic missiles wielded by rogue nations, not to counter ICBMs deployed by Russia.

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