Index

DoD News Briefing

Mr. Kenneth H. Bacon, ASD PA

Thursday, September 7, 2000, 2:10 p.m. EDT

Q: On the National Missile Defense decision by the president, does that decision change in any way the immediate prospects for moving ahead in terms of giving the Pentagon more time to prepare for this next test -- for example, in any way slacken the time schedule?

Bacon: Well, you know, we've been a little squishy about the timing of the next test. It was initially scheduled for December; we've announced that it's likely to slip. Don't know when -- sometime early next year. Obviously the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization wants to complete its analysis of exactly what happened with Integrated Flight Test 5, and then make sure that it understands how to make the fixes, if necessary, so the same problem doesn't happen again. And then they'll get as well set up as possible. Secretary Cohen in a statement he issued last week vowed to continue to work as aggressively as possible on the development of a workable national missile defense system.

So we'd like to get this test done, successfully, as soon as possible. I think if you had to choose between success and speed, we'd choose success. So the BMDO will work as hard as it can to make sure that it can perform the test successfully, and then it will do that.

So this is a long way of saying I don't know when the next test is going to be. My guess is it'll be sometime early next year. We are not going to sit on our hands. On the other hand, we've always wanted to take the time necessary to assure as much success as possible.

...

Q: I have a national missile defense cost question. Throughout the defense --

Bacon: I hate these questions. You can never get them right. So go -- but with that introduction, go ahead and ask your question. Don't feel intimidated.

Q: The deployment readiness review took into account cost --

Bacon: Right.

Q: -- as part of its measure.

Bacon: Right.

Q: I've seen reports or internal materials showing that the cost could have gone up like -- it was estimated to go up something like 10 to 20 percent. My question is this. To what extent is the Pentagon concerned about cost growth in the program as you proceed forward now to a later deployment date?

Bacon: Well, first of all, there is not a firm deployment date at this stage, but obviously, every time a deployment of a complicated weapon gets delayed, the costs go up. So that is a matter of concern. We anticipate the cost of the national missile defense system to rise. I don't think we know by how much at this stage. It's still being considered by the missile and budget experts. And we'll try to come up with a good figure as soon as possible, but I don't think we have a clear figure yet. We don't have a clear figure yet.