Jeffrey LewisLinguistic Gymnastics with the Missile Defense Agency

Two space-based missile defense items, today.

NEAR FIELD INFRARED EXPERIMENT

Theresa Hitchens noticed an interesting choice of words in the letter that the White House sent to the Senate Appropriations complaining about various recissions in the Defense Appropriations report. You may remember this exchange between Senator Dole and General Kadish:

DOLE: General Kadish, could you explain why you are pursuing boost phase capability and what it would bring to a layered defense? And please discuss any plans you may have for space-based components or any movement toward space-based capabilities such as kinetic energy boost phase interceptors.

KADISH: Senator, we have very few dollars in the budget at this point to handle a space-based capability at all. Our primary focus is all terrestrially based in our efforts.

Now, I didn/’t say General Kadish lied, in part, because he could have made a plausible case that NFIRE didn/’t count as “movement toward space-based capabilities such as kinetic energy boost phase interceptors.”

Now, the White House is complaining about cuts to the “future boost-phase kinetic interceptor program ($68 million)” that “will seriously hamper the Administration/’s goal of deploying a multi-layered, effective missile defense system.” So, apparently NFIRE is “movement toward space-based capabilities such as kinetic energy boost phase interceptors.” I guess $68 M is now “very few dollars.”

SPACE BASED LASER

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that the Ottawa Citizen reported that the Space-based Laser went black, probably funded out of the classified ACES program element. Check out the classic “non denial” denial by MDA flack Rick Lehner:

This Citizen article could not have been further off the mark. There is no plan to deploy a space-based laser system for missile defence — we closed the space-based laser program office nearly three years ago. There is no plan to build “a constellation of 12 to 24 orbiting lasers.”

The missile defences planned for fielding by the U.S. consist of ground- and sea-based interceptors for use against short-, medium- and long-range ballistic missiles that threaten our homeland, our deployed forces and our friends and allies. That is our objective, and we are making great progress.

This year, for the first time, there will be a capability to defend cities and towns — and the people living there — against a long-range ballistic missile. We have come a very long way from the days of the Safeguard system, which used nuclear weapons to intercept missiles aimed at one of our strategic missile bases in North Dakota, Our current interceptors use only the force of collision to destroy a target warhead.

And we will continue to improve this capability over time through operationally realistic testing to ensure we keep up with what could become a very serious ballistic missile threat, sooner rather than later.

Richard Lehner,
Washington, D.C.,
Missile Defense Agency,
U.S. Dept. of Defense

Let/’s see, what do we have:

1. There is no plan to deploy a space-based laser system for missile defence — we closed the space-based laser program office nearly three years ago. Interesting, but that doesn/’t mean that RDT&E work isn/’t continuing out of another program office. Not sure about the specific reference “for missile defense” but it isn/’t very reassuring.

2. There is no plan to build “a constellation of 12 to 24 orbiting lasers.”
Ditto. At some point, shouldn/’t he say something reassuring like “we canceled the program” (not just the office) or “there is no funding in ACES” or “this is a terrible idea that will never work” …

3. Our current interceptors use only the force of collision to destroy a target warhead.
The story really wasn/’t about our current interceptors, was it?

4. And we will continue to improve this capability over time …
Yeah, I think that was the point.

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