Jeffrey LewisNFIRE KV Pulled?

Space News on Monday reports similar information to my August 20 post, announcing that MDA will (1) remove the kill vehicle from NFIRE, (2) use the NFIRE KV as a ground-based risk reduction asset, and (3) slip the launch date to 4Q FY06.

Two items of note:

First, the KEI program office appears genuinely baffled by those brackets in the Conference Report that also confused your humble author (who upon NFIRE/’s metaphorical grave, performed a very real but premature dance). In my defense, I noted “The Senate seems to have fenced the money, rather than cut it, but I haven/’t been able to figure out the conditions…”

Second, the KEI program office is waiting for Armed Services Committee staff, which is away for “recess” (aka the Republican National Convention), to approve the changes. ArmsControlWonk has taken some flack for calling the NFIRE an “ideologically motivated effort” to get something, anything missile defense-related into orbit before the end of a prospective Bush second term.

Isn/’t it is curious that the GOP Congress suddenly wants input in program level decisions?

When Pete Aldridge testified that DOD was giving “greater authority to Lieutenant General Kadish and his staff to manage the rigorous and complex technical challenges associated with developing missile defenses,” he encountered approving comments and softball questions by Senate Republicans.

[For example, Senator Inhofe (R-OK) asked: “What I/’d like to [know]–it was music to my ears in /’01 July 12th when Secretary Wolfowitz said — and I/’m quoting now–/’While we have been debating the existence of threat for nearly a decade, other countries have been busily acquiring, developing, and proliferating missile technology. We can afford to debate the threat no longer. We are in a race against time, and we are starting from behind, thanks in so small part to the constraints and the antiquity of the ABM Treaty./’” Whew, that is a tough one].

Of course, Aldridge was talking about “streamlining” oversight by pesky Democrats; this is about oversight of pesky Democrats. Totally different.