Index


<pre>
Defense Acquisitions: DOD Efforts to Develop Laser Weapons for Theater
Defense (Chapter Report, 03/31/99, GAO/NSIAD-99-50).

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of
Defense's (DOD) programs to develop laser weapons for missile defense,
focusing on: (1) what laser weapons are being considered for missile
defense and the coordination among the program offices developing the
systems; (2) the status and cost of each system; and (3) the technical
challenges each system faces as determined by DOD program managers and
analysts and other laser system experts.

GAO noted that: (1) DOD is developing two laser weapons--the Airborne
Laser (ABL) and the Space-Based Laser (SBL)--which U.S. forces intend to
use to destroy enemy ballistic missiles; (2) in a joint effort with
Israel, DOD is developing a ground-based laser weapon, the Tactical High
Energy Laser (THEL), which Israel will use to defend its northern cities
against short-range rockets; (3) ABL is funded and managed by the Air
Force, SBL is jointly funded by the Ballistic Missile Defense
Organization and the Air Force, and THEL is funded jointly with Israel
and managed by the Army; (4) ABL, SBL, and THEL are in varying stages of
development ranging from conceptual design studies to integration and
testing of system components; (5) the ABL program is in the program
definition and risk reduction acquisition phase and is scheduled for
full operational capability in 2009, with a total of seven ABLs; (6)
this schedule reflects a 1-year delay from the original schedule; (7)
the Air Force estimates the life-cycle cost of the ABL to be about $11
billion; (8) the SBL program is about a year into a $30-million study
phase to define concepts for the design, development, and deployment of
a proof of concept demonstrator; (9) DOD estimates that it will cost
about $3 billion to develop and deploy the demonstrator; (10) the future
of the SBL program is unknown, pending the outcome of a DOD assessment
of the program; (11) the $131.5-million THEL Advanced Concept Technology
Demonstration program is about 34 months into a 38-month program; (12)
system components have been built, but system testing has been delayed
from December 1998 to July 1999 due to administrative and technical
problems; (13) laser experts agree that the ABL, SBL, and THEL face
significant technical challenges; (14) the technical complexity of the
ABL program has caused laser experts to conclude that the ABL planned
flight test schedule is compressed and too dependent on the assumption
that tests will be successful and therefore does not allow enough time
and resources to deal with potential test failures and to prove the ABL
concept; (15) if DOD ultimately decides to continue the SBL program, the
size and weight limitations dictated by current and future launch
capabilities will force the program to push the state of the art in
laser efficiency, laser power, and deployable optics; and (16) initial
testing of THEL's laser has identified problems with the operation of
chemical flow control valves and with the low-power laser that is to be
used in tracking short-range rockets the system is being designed to
defeat.

--------------------------- Indexing Terms -----------------------------

 REPORTNUM:  NSIAD-99-50
     TITLE:  Defense Acquisitions: DOD Efforts to Develop Laser Weapons 
             for Theater Defense
      DATE:  03/31/99
   SUBJECT:  Air defense systems
             Defense capabilities
             Military aircraft
             Weapons research and development
             Ballistic missiles
             Life cycle costs
             Schedule slippages
             Weapons systems
             Operational testing
             Military procurement
IDENTIFIER:  DOD Theater Missile Defense Program
             Patriot Missile Advanced Capability-Three Upgrade
             Navy Area Defense Program
             Medium Extended-Range Air Defense System
             SDI Theater High Altitude Area Defense System
             DOD Airborne Laser Program
             DOD Space-Based Laser Program
             Tactical High Energy Laser
             DOD Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration Program
             Boeing 747-400 Aircraft
             Israel
             
</pre>
Defense Acquisitions: DOD Efforts to Develop Laser Weapons for Theater
Defense (Chapter Report, 03/31/99, GAO/NSIAD-99-50).

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of
Defense's (DOD) programs to develop laser weapons for missile defense,
focusing on: (1) what laser weapons are being considered for missile
defense and the coordination among the program offices developing the
systems; (2) the status and cost of each system; and (3) the technical
challenges each system faces as determined by DOD program managers and
analysts and other laser system experts.

GAO noted that: (1) DOD is developing two laser weapons--the Airborne
Laser (ABL) and the Space-Based Laser (SBL)--which U.S. forces intend to
use to destroy enemy ballistic missiles; (2) in a joint effort with
Israel, DOD is developing a ground-based laser weapon, the Tactical High
Energy Laser (THEL), which Israel will use to defend its northern cities
against short-range rockets; (3) ABL is funded and managed by the Air
Force, SBL is jointly funded by the Ballistic Missile Defense
Organization and the Air Force, and THEL is funded jointly with Israel
and managed by the Army; (4) ABL, SBL, and THEL are in varying stages of
development ranging from conceptual design studies to integration and
testing of system components; (5) the ABL program is in the program
definition and risk reduction acquisition phase and is scheduled for
full operational capability in 2009, with a total of seven ABLs; (6)
this schedule reflects a 1-year delay from the original schedule; (7)
the Air Force estimates the life-cycle cost of the ABL to be about $11
billion; (8) the SBL program is about a year into a $30-million study
phase to define concepts for the design, development, and deployment of
a proof of concept demonstrator; (9) DOD estimates that it will cost
about $3 billion to develop and deploy the demonstrator; (10) the future
of the SBL program is unknown, pending the outcome of a DOD assessment
of the program; (11) the $131.5-million THEL Advanced Concept Technology
Demonstration program is about 34 months into a 38-month program; (12)
system components have been built, but system testing has been delayed
from December 1998 to July 1999 due to administrative and technical
problems; (13) laser experts agree that the ABL, SBL, and THEL face
significant technical challenges; (14) the technical complexity of the
ABL program has caused laser experts to conclude that the ABL planned
flight test schedule is compressed and too dependent on the assumption
that tests will be successful and therefore does not allow enough time
and resources to deal with potential test failures and to prove the ABL
concept; (15) if DOD ultimately decides to continue the SBL program, the
size and weight limitations dictated by current and future launch
capabilities will force the program to push the state of the art in
laser efficiency, laser power, and deployable optics; and (16) initial
testing of THEL's laser has identified problems with the operation of
chemical flow control valves and with the low-power laser that is to be
used in tracking short-range rockets the system is being designed to
defeat.

--------------------------- Indexing Terms -----------------------------

 REPORTNUM:  NSIAD-99-50
     TITLE:  Defense Acquisitions: DOD Efforts to Develop Laser Weapons 
             for Theater Defense
      DATE:  03/31/99
   SUBJECT:  Air defense systems
             Defense capabilities
             Military aircraft
             Weapons research and development
             Ballistic missiles
             Life cycle costs
             Schedule slippages
             Weapons systems
             Operational testing
             Military procurement
IDENTIFIER:  DOD Theater Missile Defense Program
             Patriot Missile Advanced Capability-Three Upgrade
             Navy Area Defense Program
             Medium Extended-Range Air Defense System
             SDI Theater High Altitude Area Defense System
             DOD Airborne Laser Program
             DOD Space-Based Laser Program
             Tactical High Energy Laser
             DOD Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration Program
             Boeing 747-400 Aircraft
             Israel
             
</pre>
Defense Acquisitions: DOD Efforts to Develop Laser Weapons for Theater
Defense (Chapter Report, 03/31/99, GAO/NSIAD-99-50).

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of
Defense's (DOD) programs to develop laser weapons for missile defense,
focusing on: (1) what laser weapons are being considered for missile
defense and the coordination among the program offices developing the
systems; (2) the status and cost of each system; and (3) the technical
challenges each system faces as determined by DOD program managers and
analysts and other laser system experts.

GAO noted that: (1) DOD is developing two laser weapons--the Airborne
Laser (ABL) and the Space-Based Laser (SBL)--which U.S. forces intend to
use to destroy enemy ballistic missiles; (2) in a joint effort with
Israel, DOD is developing a ground-based laser weapon, the Tactical High
Energy Laser (THEL), which Israel will use to defend its northern cities
against short-range rockets; (3) ABL is funded and managed by the Air
Force, SBL is jointly funded by the Ballistic Missile Defense
Organization and the Air Force, and THEL is funded jointly with Israel
and managed by the Army; (4) ABL, SBL, and THEL are in varying stages of
development ranging from conceptual design studies to integration and
testing of system components; (5) the ABL program is in the program
definition and risk reduction acquisition phase and is scheduled for
full operational capability in 2009, with a total of seven ABLs; (6)
this schedule reflects a 1-year delay from the original schedule; (7)
the Air Force estimates the life-cycle cost of the ABL to be about $11
billion; (8) the SBL program is about a year into a $30-million study
phase to define concepts for the design, development, and deployment of
a proof of concept demonstrator; (9) DOD estimates that it will cost
about $3 billion to develop and deploy the demonstrator; (10) the future
of the SBL program is unknown, pending the outcome of a DOD assessment
of the program; (11) the $131.5-million THEL Advanced Concept Technology
Demonstration program is about 34 months into a 38-month program; (12)
system components have been built, but system testing has been delayed
from December 1998 to July 1999 due to administrative and technical
problems; (13) laser experts agree that the ABL, SBL, and THEL face
significant technical challenges; (14) the technical complexity of the
ABL program has caused laser experts to conclude that the ABL planned
flight test schedule is compressed and too dependent on the assumption
that tests will be successful and therefore does not allow enough time
and resources to deal with potential test failures and to prove the ABL
concept; (15) if DOD ultimately decides to continue the SBL program, the
size and weight limitations dictated by current and future launch
capabilities will force the program to push the state of the art in
laser efficiency, laser power, and deployable optics; and (16) initial
testing of THEL's laser has identified problems with the operation of
chemical flow control valves and with the low-power laser that is to be
used in tracking short-range rockets the system is being designed to
defeat.

--------------------------- Indexing Terms -----------------------------

 REPORTNUM:  NSIAD-99-50
     TITLE:  Defense Acquisitions: DOD Efforts to Develop Laser Weapons 
             for Theater Defense
      DATE:  03/31/99
   SUBJECT:  Air defense systems
             Defense capabilities
             Military aircraft
             Weapons research and development
             Ballistic missiles
             Life cycle costs
             Schedule slippages
             Weapons systems
             Operational testing
             Military procurement
IDENTIFIER:  DOD Theater Missile Defense Program
             Patriot Missile Advanced Capability-Three Upgrade
             Navy Area Defense Program
             Medium Extended-Range Air Defense System
             SDI Theater High Altitude Area Defense System
             DOD Airborne Laser Program
             DOD Space-Based Laser Program
             Tactical High Energy Laser
             DOD Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration Program
             Boeing 747-400 Aircraft
             Israel