News

Background Briefing


Friday, October 1, 1999
Subject: Subject: National Missile Defense Intercept Test
Presenter: Attributable to a Senior Defense Department and Senior Military Officials

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Mr. Crowley: This is a background briefing on the upcoming national missile defense test which is scheduled to take place tomorrow, October 2nd. The launch window opens late tomorrow night in the Pacific. This will be the third flight test of the national missile defense program, but first intercept test. Obviously a major priority for the Administration and the Department leading up to a deployment readiness review that the President will make next summer.

We have available this morning a senior defense official and a senior military official to kind of characterize where we are in the NMD program and the specific objectives for this test. We'll start off with our senior defense official who is familiar to all of you.

Senior Defense Official (Briefer 1): I'd like to just make a few opening comments to put the context of the overall effort here, and then our senior military official will speak in more detail about the upcoming test itself.

As you are well aware, of course, the United States is committed to a development program to develop a limited national missile defense that is designed to counter long range missile threats emerging from rogue states. We have made no decision at this time whether we will proceed with the deployment of that system. Many months ago at the beginning of the FYDP for this year as it was announced we noted that we were putting money into the budget that would, in fact, finance the deployment of a limited national missile defense and the necessary dollars within that six year defense program.

The deployment readiness review, a crucial aspect of the potential decision to proceed toward deployment, is scheduled to occur next June. This is an important test in the development effort on the road toward that review. At that review we said several times that some of the key factors that will be taken into consideration will be the assessment of the threat, issues about affordability and cost projected for the system, the state of our technology, that is our ability to demonstrate the capabilities, or at least we're along the road of development of the technology to support the system, and the issue of arms control considerations which obviously refers to issues with Russia about the ABM Treaty.

The Secretary and the President have made clear that our desire is to proceed if we choose to proceed, in a manner that will also sustain the ABM Treaty. But it is clear to us at this point that that ABM Treaty will have to be modified if we are to sustain it.

That judgment was reached in work that is done over the summer into the early fall. We have begun intense discussions with Russia on this matter of the possible modification of the treaty. The President spoke with President Yeltsin about this matter in Cologne in June and they agreed that there would be intense discussions that began in early August and are now fully underway.

They have included a number of exchanges at various levels. The Secretary of State to her counterpart; Secretary Cohen to his counterpart; Marshal Sergeyev; meetings with very specific focus on this led by Strobe Talbott the Deputy Secretary of State on one side and Deputy Foreign Minister Mamedov, and at a level just below that by John Holum from the State Department leading an interagency team that has dealt with a team led by a Deputy within the Foreign Ministry, Mr. Bredenkov. That process is well underway. There are scheduled further meetings in this regard coming up within the next couple of weeks.

I'd like to just leave this at this point, let [the senior military official] do his thing, and then we will return and I will be happy to answer questions.

Senior Military Official (Briefer 2): Good morning.

What I'd like to do is kind of set in context what we're about to do here in the next 36 hours or so.

As you may or may not know, the architecture for national missile defense includes a kill vehicle which is represented here, and I'll talk a little bit about it, that uses kinetic energy to accomplish its mission. There are no explosiveS on board, so this is a non-nuclear, non-explosive type of kill mechanism, a new technology. It includes X-band radars, it includes early warning radars, it includes space-based assets with early warning on the defense support program, as well as a program coming on line called SBIRS and a battle management control system. So it's a very complex set of arrangements that we have to deal with.

The test tomorrow, however, will be focused on the kill vehicle to demonstrate basically that we can intercept a target of intercontinental range. The other parts of the system will be in play to some degree, but not critical to the success of the test. That's our secondary objective -- that is to collect data and reduce the risk of those particular components when we put them into the system.

But certainly key to what we want to accomplish is to make sure that our basic technology of hit-to-kill can accomplish this mission. Let me describe that a little bit more in detail.

The test itself is rather complex. If you will just bear with me for a minute I'll try to make it as simple as I can in explanation.

The first thing we have is a target being launched out of California at Vandenberg Air Force Base. It's an intercontinental range target, about 4300 miles downrange to Kwajalein Atoll where the interceptor is located.

The way this sequence of events goes is that we launch the target out of Kwajalein (sic) [Vandenberg]. There are radars tracking networks in the ranges to make sure that we can get the target vehicle as well as the kill vehicle in the right spot to do its job.

About four and a half minutes after launch the RV, the target RV is launched off of the stack along with a decoy, a large balloon, to go downrange.

About 20 minutes into the flight of the target, we will launch the interceptor. The interceptor has a characteristic, it is not the interceptor we intend to use. That is the minute the rocket activity here. It is a surrogate rocket, because the test is designed to get the kill vehicle into position to do its mission.

About two and a half minutes after launch of the surrogate rocket, we launch the kill vehicle. That's about 1400 miles away from the RV at that point. For the next six minutes, it goes on its trajectory, trying to find and locate itself autonomously as well as acquire the RV to hit it.

About a minute and a half -- after six minutes of flight -- it starts to acquire that target and then ten seconds prior to impact it selects its aim point and then hits the target.

The test, as I said, is focused on this vehicle. This is a half-size replica. The closing velocity of that intercept is 15,000 miles per hour. Very fast. To put that in perspective, if you're going that fast you can go from Washington to New York in a minute. So these things have to react very fast, very quickly. This is why the vehicle's designed the way it is.

Q: What will be traveling 15,000...

Briefer 2: It's the closing velocity. The closing velocity at impact is 15,000 miles per hour. The addition of both of those velocities.

Q: So how much is each traveling?

Q: Each...

Briefer 2: It's not quite that simple. I can't remember the exact closing velocity of the target. I think it's about six or seven...

Voice: Six or seven kilometers per second.

Q: This is in the descent of...

Briefer 2: Right. The target goes about 980 miles high and then comes down and we try to intercept it about 140 miles in altitude.

Q: It's still in space.

Briefer 2: It's still in space.

Q: Did you say the closing, the velocity of impact was 15,000 miles per hour?

Briefer 2: Right. There are very many ways we can characterize the speed of that impact, from miles per hour to kilometers per second. All I can assure you is, it is very fast. In fact we can't necessarily think that fast.

But the way this works, this is the seeker part of the kill vehicle. This whole thing, as you can see, is rather small, rather light weight, but at the speeds of impact that we're talking about it's absolutely catastrophic destruction.

The first time we did this was back in 1992 in the ERIS program where we actually did an exoatmospheric outer space intercept to prove the concept.

To get back to the vehicle, very simply, here's the seeker. This is a sun shade. It's a very sensitive IR seeker as well as optical. These are the thrusters that move it and control its attitude as it's speeding through space to intercept. Fuel tanks, telemetry, and a very powerful computer. The technology there is extremely critical to us.

Let me go into a little bit more detail, how this thing works, and kind of put it in context.

As I said, as we launch the surrogate interceptor to boost the vehicle into position, it takes about 2.5 minutes. Once the EKV is launched, it will orient itself autonomously to find where it is by selecting some stars that we have pre-loaded for navigation. So it does basically two star shots to find its point in space, and uses its divert attitude engines to put it in the right point in space to go after the target.

After it does its star shots, it uses its divert, puts itself in the position, looks for the target, acquires the target, tracks the target, discriminates which among those basically three objects we've got in this cluster to go hit, selects the target, the aim point, and then hits it.

So the full test we think will take about 29 minutes, 30 minutes. It will be the high altitude intercept, as I said. Very complex. A lot of surrogates in this test to go against. So we have a complexity factor here that could throw delay into the launch at any time. The window opens tomorrow, as they said, about 10:00 o'clock in the evening local time. But as we do launch countdowns and those kinds of systems checks to make sure that we can maximize the success of this test, or the chance of success, there could be delays for any reason. It could be measured in minutes or seconds or even, for that matter, in days and weeks depending on the health of the equipment that we have to use for this test.

Q: When you say 10:00 p.m. local time, which local time?

Briefer 2: Washington. Actually they're a day off, so they're a day later in date time as well at Kwajalein. So I would encourage you to make sure we've got the facts right, because there's time differences and date differences and a whole bunch of ways of measuring this.

Q: It's going to actually happen on Sunday then?

Briefer 2: It will happen Saturday night our time, Sunday night their time.

Q: It will happen Sunday where it happens.

Briefer 2: Yes.

Q: The three objects are the RV, the warhead, and the balloon? Is that right?

Briefer 2: The RV is the warhead.

Q: Okay. What's the third object then?

Briefer 2: It's the balloon and the booster. The booster is going to be somewhere in that area.

Q: Could you explain, you've really set this shot up, right? It's not doing it by itself. It knows where to go to find the target.

Briefer 2: If I could have that second chart, I want to make sure I clearly explain this.

The kill vehicle is autonomous and that's what we're testing. So it is supposed to do what it is supposed to do. It has very few cues other than what they're supposed to have for this intercept. So once we launch the kill vehicle it's on its own and that's why we're testing it, to see if it works.

Q: What's the pre-programmed...

Briefer 2: The pre-programmed activity is in the target to make sure... We will not be successful if our target launch doesn't launch. So there is risk in complexity. We want to make sure the target's in the right position so we will do everything we can, including using global positioning satellites and other beacons to make sure that target goes where it's supposed to go. We want to take that out of the equation because that is not something we're testing. We want it to work.

The interceptor, as I said, is not the real interceptor. It's a Minuteman booster similar to the target that we also want to work. What we're testing is this vehicle, not the missile. So we have ways of making sure it goes where it's supposed to go.

In later tests when we get the right booster and start doing the full system tests, we will be putting criteria on those vehicles as well. So this is our first test. We started in earnest with the award of the contract to Boeing about 18 months ago, so this is a very quick response. So we had to use these kind of surrogates.

But again, I want to emphasize, even though we make sure that these two ends of the spectrum -- that is the launch out of Vandenberg for the target, and the stack used to boost the EKV -- are success-oriented and we want to make it that way. The real test is on the vehicle and that is a systems test internal to the vehicle.

Q: So you get them in the same target basket and then let it do its thing.

Briefer 2: Let it do its thing and see if it works.

Q: When you talked about using the stars to position, was this vehicle going to do that?

Briefer 2: That's right. It's all internal to the navigation of this vehicle.

Q: How, if there's no explosives or anything, is it just the force of the impact that is supposed to blow up the...

Briefer 2: The kinetic energy force of the impact will turn, we expect, atomize the RV and this vehicle into a plasma of energy.

Q: What does that mean? Blow it to smithereens? (Laughter)

Briefer 2: That would be a great outcome. That's exactly right. As small a particles as you can imagine is our expectation.

Q: Those particles are going to reenter, are they not?

Briefer 2: If they are large enough to reenter they will be burned in reentry. And we don't expect them to be very large at all.

Q: If you're in fact killing a nuclear warhead, you're going to have still a lot of radiation contamination, are you not, on earth?

Briefer 2: Our lethality studies say that we don't expect that to reenter.

Q: It won't reenter? Will it be floating around in space?

Briefer 2: It will be atomized. The force of the explosion, our lethality studies say that it could... That's one of the things we're going to test on this thing because we don't have a lot of experience at those high kinetic energy activities and that's what we're going to do to refine our models. We don't expect that the reentry of those particles, potential or otherwise, would be a byproduct of this intercept.

Q: ...star shot program, pre-programmed, is that something that you would not or would have in the real world?

Briefer 2: It would be part of our real world process. In fact in the real world in our architecture seconds before the launch is initiated for a real live intercept under threat conditions, we would load the current star maps into the vehicle, because those things change over time.

Q: One other thing, if you hit with the kill vehicle any part of the RV it's going to atomize it? Any kind of a nick or something...

Briefer 2: It will do very destructive damage, but it won't be as destructive as our selected aim point.

Q: Could you list for us the things that would be different were this a real world system? Like the booster, the this, the that, the that, so that we know... Am I clear?

Briefer 2: Why don't you put the architecture chart up.

Q: First, is there anything about that that would be different?

Briefer 2: The kill vehicle?

Q: The kill vehicle itself.

Briefer 2: That depends on whether it works or not. (Laughter) If it works I'd say we have a fairly good design.

The other thing I will say is we expect success. Success does not mean that we are ready to deploy this system tomorrow. The expectation here is... We have a very tough technological job ahead of us and success here would be a very high confidence builder in our approach to this design. So that's what we're trying to find out.

A failure to intercept could be caused by very many different reasons, all of which we'll have to analyze. And at the end of that analysis it may point us to the fact that even though it was a failure, we have a better chance of success on the next flight. That's why we do flight testing.

So it may sound trite. Success is great. A failure is a failure on the road to success kind of an approach.

Let me get back to her question. When we get the full-up system what we're going to have is early warning radars.

Q: Not right now.

Briefer 2: We have those out there today, BMEWS and those kind of locations, but we have to upgrade them. That's why they're called upgraded early warning.

We need X-band radars which give us discrimination capability. These are very powerful radars and these need to be developed.

We have battle management command and control that we have to develop because these time lines are very short and our command and control and battle management communications capability has to be able to fight the battle for us and assist us in doing that.

We have SBIRS and early warning activity to give us the launch indications as well as state vectors.

Q: That doesn't exist now?

Briefer 2: That does not exist. Well, we have DSP right now that we use. SBIRS high will come on line and then SBIRS low.

We have the ground-based interceptor, as I said, that is in development. We will flight test those first vehicles I think next year in March. So that will be operational. Then on top of that will be the kill vehicle we finally end up with as a result of our...

Q: Can we just go over this? So you need to upgrade the early warning radar. You need to develop the X-band radar. You need the BMC-squared (sic) [BMC3]. You need SBIRS high and low although DSP can do some of that, and the ground-based interceptor vehicles are being built and they should be ready in March. That's a lot.

Briefer 2: That is a very complex system, it's a big challenge, but we are very confident we know how to make it work. This is the first indication that our technology, hit-to-kill will be...

Q: Can you describe the balloon? How does that act as a decoy and what is it? I mean is it like a rubber balloon?

Briefer 2: It's a radar-reflecting balloon. I think it's two meters in diameter. These are the types of things that decoys are made of, if you will.

Q: How far from the vehicle will it be? I mean from the target?

Briefer 2: I can't remember that now. It's within a kilometer. It's not tied, it's floating along with it. It's in the trajectory along with it.

Q: How much of a difference is there in the thermal signature of the balloon and the RV?

Briefer 2: It's pretty significant. I can't remember the number.

Q: Is it an important difference for the closing...

Briefer 2: The way the kill vehicle works is on IR signatures so we want to make, the target is very difficult to find, so the IR signatures would be important to the discrimination here.

Q: Other than make sure that the target and the kill vehicle get in the same basket, have you done anything to make it easier for that kill vehicle to detect and hone in on the reentry vehicle?

Briefer 2: You mean in terms of the way the test is set up?

Q: You know, back in the '80s when they had that first intercept, it later turned out that the reentry vehicle had been heated up so you could get a better IR signature. Have you done anything, a radar reflector on the ICBM or anything to make it easier...

Briefer 2: Not to my knowledge. This is a tough discrimination activity in and of itself to find the RV. What we're testing are the algorithms... When you have multiple objects, regardless of their signature, you want to make sure you pick the right one. We have sophisticated algorithms to do that.

We want the target in the right spot, as you said, we want the interceptor in the right spot. This is a tough intercept for that vehicle.

Q: What is the length between the two launch points, and what is the height where it's going to actually happen?

Briefer 2: The distance is 4300 miles downrange, and then...

Q: 4300 miles between the two launch...

Briefer 2: Right. And the target will reach an altitude of 980 miles, I think, and the intercept will be somewhere around 140.

Q: A question on the kill vehicle. You said it will work autonomously with very few cues, you said. Once it separates and it's on its own, what input from the outside does it get, if any?

Briefer 2: It doesn't get any outside...

Q: When you said very few cues, what does that ...

Briefer 2: The cues are the star shots.

Q: But it's doing that itself.

Briefer 2: Right. We are also testing a simulated in-flight upgrade that a radar would give it, but that's internal and given to the vehicle before it separates from the launch vehicle. It's a GPS-type of cue that it would simulate the actual in-flight upgrade, but it's not critical to the test. It's only to make sure the software is capable of accepting an in-flight update, but it doesn't get one.

Q: No external help.

Briefer 2: No external help.

Q: What is released?

Briefer 2: The EKV.

Q: Once it gets off the booster.

Briefer 2: Once it leaves the booster there is no external help to the kill vehicle.

Q: Is the measure of success strictly hit to kill, or can it come close and still be considered a success in this case, even though...

Briefer 2: From a test perspective we can consider it a success if we accomplish most of our objectives on the test, and you can tell there are many objectives -- tracking, discrimination. If it misses by two centimeters or a meter, we will learn a lot from that and we could declare it a success from a test perspective, but certainly we are going after the actual intercept so that would be a disappointment.

Q: Perceptually, would that be a major setback to the road to this deployment or readiness review?

Briefer 2: It depends on what happens and how we measure that. I don't know, you may want to...

Briefer 1: I've been requested to get on the bulls-eye here as well.

Q: A question for the senior defense official. Could you give us a sense of what you're hearing from the Russians now? Is there any particular Russian sensitivity or awareness of this threat in particular? Have they expressed any concerns, any (inaudible), or are they (inaudible) what are the concerns about the program in general?

Briefer 1: We haven't talked to them within the last couple of days. Maybe if this test comes up this will gain their attention. Our discussions have been about the program in general.

Their general attitude on that so far is they've made clear to us they prefer to sustain the ABM Treaty in its current form. They've made clear that in their public statements. We are only at the beginning of this process. We're making clear to them that we think that the basic purpose of the ABM Treaty, that is sustaining strategic stability, not threatening the Russian retaliatory deterrent, we believe that even a modified treaty would still allow them to sustain confidence in their retaliatory deterrent and would allow us to field a system that could cope with the threat posed by rogue states.

So far their answer to that is we'd rather stay where we are.

Q: If I could just follow up on two points. Reconstruct for us, if you could, what it is now that has led the Administration to the conclusion that the... With some precision, what's led you to the conclusion the ABM Treaty has to be modified. And where the Russians are on any moves on their side to develop similar technology.

Briefer 1: We are aware of the nature of the prospective system and having looked at the prospective even phasing of the system, have come to the conclusion that various elements of that system are inconsistent with the treaty as it is today. The Russians certainly agree with that. I'm going to have to check on that. I'm not prepared to do that at this time.

Q: Okay, and could you just tell us...

Q: That goes beyond just the ground locations changing from...

Briefer 1: One of the issues is the change in location, but there are other issues as well. I really don't have any cleared points on that. I can check into that.

Q: Are the Russians working on any similar technologies at this point?

Briefer 1: Not to my knowledge.

Briefer 2: They have the only working ABM system in the world today. It's nuclear-based.

Briefer 1: But it uses a nuclear interceptor, it's based on technology that goes back a much longer timeframe.

Q: Do you see them upgrading...

Briefer 1: Who knows in the long term?

Q: It only protects a much smaller...

Briefer 1: It protects the general Moscow area. This is the Moscow ABM system that they protected from the early, they began to deploy in the mid 1960s and they updated it...

Q: You haven't seen anything beyond that?

Briefer 1: To my knowledge, no.

Q: Can you give us a sense of whether there's any technical reason to be making a deployment decision in June of next year, or whether that's essentially a political deadline that you've been given that you have to try to meet technically?

Briefer 1: The desire is to have a capability that is appropriate to our view of the emerging threat. Therefore, the desire has been to have the target, if a decision is made, to have the initial capability of the system available in the calendar year 2005. That objective was set with strong consideration about the nature of the emerging threat and the opportunity that we thought that the technology provided. So it was a combination of what we think is the art of the possible and the desire to get it as soon as possible consistent with the emerging threat.

Q: ...makes 2005 possible?

Briefer 1: It does.

Q: You have to count backward and you need five years is basically what you're saying.

Briefer 1: Certainly it takes that lead time to put the initial capability in the field.

Q: This first test was supposed to happen in early 1998 and it's been postponed two or three times since then. What technical challenges have you overcome to this point to allow you to field a successful (inaudible) Saturday night?

Briefer 2: We're taking a very deliberate event-based approach to this. We don't want to proceed to the next event until we're ready. The difficulty in this technology is such that that is the best way to proceed.

So as we ran into the normal difficulties that you get in putting vehicles together, testing them, starting up a program. As I said, the LSI started 18 months ago. Even though we built on technology for many years that we had. We, when something anomalous happened, whether that was a battery fire or something of that nature, we made sure that we could proceed in a deliberate fashion and we slipped the schedule.

Today we stand hours away from the launch, and we are being very deliberate in our countdowns and practices and rehearsals for that launch across the board. As I said before, if we don't launch at 10:00 p.m. tomorrow night, it may be, it's because we are taking a very deliberate approach and we're not going to launch until we're ready.

Q: Two questions. Question one, does the RV enter, its whole flight of entry is just like that of an attacking missile with...

Briefer 2: Subject to range restrictions.

Q: ...nuclear warhead. Then as the other missile comes, or your interceptor, EKV, comes out and it's tracking, how often would it change course? Can you tell us anything about that or is that a secret?

Briefer 2: It's embedded in the software design of that kill vehicle, and it will go track the targets and then use those engines to divert, based on the physics of the problem.

Briefer 1: I think he's at an earlier stage. When the thing is still a whole missile, when it has both the interceptor boosters on that, then we are in communication with it, when we have the full-up system, and it will be corrected. Once you release the EKV, then it's on its own. It gets no external assistance. It orients itself, it keeps moving on now the ballistic track. It then picks up the target and then makes last second adjustments to collide with the target.

Q: The last millisecond or whatever.

Briefer 1: The last nanosecond.

Q: It's basically changing almost instantly, is that correct?

Briefer 1: Yes.

Briefer 2: Constantly. It's maintaining its position. That's what the accuracy requires.

Q: How much does that thing weigh?

Briefer 2: 121 pounds.

Q: And a more complicated question has to do with the Welch Report that frequently gets quoted about the rush to failure. Have you changed anything about your testing schedule in response to that report? Or did you conclude that they just...

Briefer 2: We changed an awful lot as a result of that report. We have ground tested these systems to the maximum of our ability.

For instance, this particular kill vehicle that we're launching has about -- you'll have to get the right number -- 200 hours of actual operating time to include hover testing of a vehicle that's different. So we know an awful lot about how this vehicle is going to behave as a result of that, and that was the essence of the Welch Report is that we have to do hardware in the loop testing and a very deliberate event-based process so we can ensure that we test only in flight what we need to test and minimize the risk.

Q: But you didn't change your deadlines as a result of that, correct?

Briefer 2: They did in some cases. In fact part of the reason for this slip is the fact that we wanted to make sure we went through all those loops and didn't skip a step.

Q: What was your first launch date for this vehicle?

Briefer 2: I think it was in June, the spring of this year.

Briefer 1: The first (inaudible) was in June of 1997.

Q: Wait a minute. When was this test originally scheduled.

Q: That's what I meant. But that's a good answer, too.

Q: Given all the sensors that the ultimate system as envisioned would have, this is still supposed to be a limited national missile defense. If you just increase the number of interceptors planned by however many fold, what would you lack, if anything, for a much more than limited missile defense, but a kind of national missile defense that would threaten the Russian deterrent, for example?

Briefer 1: Our conviction is that the overall system, even when it is its projected state around 2010, to handle a somewhat larger threat than it can at the initial stage. That radar infrastructure still has a real limit on its ability regardless of the number of interceptors you could try to multiply, and it is not fully scalable in that manner whatsoever.

Q: Just a housekeeping question. How and when will the video of this test be released? And how much is tomorrow's test going to cost?

Briefer 2: Tomorrow's test when you include the hardware and the 300 engineers and the range costs and all is about $100 million. That's why we want to make sure we get it right if we can.

The video should be available, as soon as we get it, the feed tomorrow night will be available.

Voice: Tammy, I'll work out those details with you. I should have it not later than 7:00 a.m. Sunday morning.

Q: A couple of questions. The total system cost, if you could? I guess the money that you've earmarked in the FYDP.

Briefer 1: I think it's $10.5 billion.

Q: A number of us were at the Union of Concerned Scientists this week, they had a pre-briefing on this thing. They said a couple of provocative things. One of the things they said was that, and just tell me if this is a correct statement of where you guys are. You have these three tests going between now and the June decision date. If two of them are successful, one of them being a complete end-to-end test, then that would give you the technical confidence to be able to make a decision yes or no absent any political consideration.

They also said that if even one of the tests was successful, you could begin breaking ground in Alaska with the idea that you wouldn't set this thing up until there was a successful end-to-end test. Is that accurate?

Briefer 1: That's accurate.

Q: And they also said that the Pentagon has said that breaking ground in Alaska doesn't necessarily mean that they have, that ABM has been vacated or abrogated in any way or violated. But if you were to pour cement in Alaska, it would. They said this is the Pentagon's assessment of what you can do and what you can't do.

Could you describe what work you can do in Alaska without being in violation of the treaty?

Briefer 2: Somewhere between the two.

Briefer 1: I'm not sure. I was not making the distinction quite that... I'll have to go back and get it, but it's literally when you begin construction of entities associated with a national missile defense system. Now whether it's exactly, whether you pour the first footing or whether you break ground, I'd have to get back to you. But those two are within... The (inaudible) supposed to be within weeks of one another. You don't break the ground and wait two years and then pour the cement. The two are going to be relatively close to one another.

Q: ...develop the list of those things you would like to have changed in the ABM Treaty that you can share with us?

Briefer 1: I cannot share that with you. We are working on those specifics right now.

Q: If there is a malfunction in this test is there any danger to anything flying lower down?

Briefer 2: No. We have very strict range safety activities. That's why we want to make sure the kill vehicle, the interceptor as well as the target go where they're supposed to go.

If they miss, the RV would reenter, the RV will be burned up in the reentry process, we expect. That's all accounted for under range safety.

Q: If it misses will Raytheon on be (inaudible) and Lockheed and (inaudible). Is there any punitive or award (inaudible) here at stake for Raytheon if the thing doesn't hit the...

Briefer 2: No. We are very early in this process and we are working together as a team. The Boeing LSI, Raytheon, Lockheed makes the booster. We've got the entire defense industry in here.

This is a very difficult problem and there is no penalty to miss financially, because we are very early in the experimental phase here. Once we prove the concepts to our satisfaction we're going to press real hard to get the design finalized and in production.

Q: Is the Pentagon going to put out a statement after the fact to tell us how it went?

Voice: (inaudible)

Q: What is the earliest time on that?

Voice: I'll have (inaudible) for the wires immediately after the test. (inaudible) the next day.

Q: But immediately after the test you will fax it to all the news...

Voice: Those who want it, give me their fax number and I'll have it as soon as...

Q: When does the window close?

Briefer 1: (inaudible)

Briefer 2: However, the window as far as programmatic goes on as long as...

Q: As long as the eye can see.

Press: Thank you very much.

http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Oct1999/x10011999_x1001nmd.html