Jeffrey LewisTransformational Satellite and Space-Based Radar in Trouble?

Looks like two major Pentagon satellite programs are facing real trouble on the Hill: Asked about the Transformational Communications Satellite (TSAT) and Space-Based Radar (SBR) programs, Lockheed Martin CEO Vance Coffman told Defense News that “the question will be, how soon can you get the funding behind them? I/’m not betting on a time frame.” The Air Force has proposed doubling the funding for both in the FY05 budget request.

These two programs typify the worst pitfalls of acting on Bush/’s facile campaign promise to “skip a generation” of military technology. GAO recently warned, in a wide-ranging review of Pentagon satellite programs, that DoD “encourages programs to enter into product development without knowledge that technologies can work as intended. Moreover, for new programs like the Transformational Satellite (TSAT) and Space Based Radar (SBR), DOD is still setting initial satellite launch dates before this knowledge has been obtained.” GAO also issued a stand alone indictment of TSAT.

Perhaps there is truth to the rumors that Congress will shift some TSAT funds to other programs, like Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite. Congress cut $100 million from each program in FY04

Both programs are mentioned in the Nuclear Posture Review, by the way, which would be a fortuitious bit of collateral damage.