Report of the Panel on
Reducing Risk In Ballistic Missile Defense Flight Test Programs
27 February 1998


The NMD Program

In this section, the study group presents some relevant information about NMD and our reactions to it.

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NMD Program

  • Purpose: "to develop, demonstrate, and deploy an initial land-based national missile defense (NMD) system to defend against limited strategic missile attacks and be capable of evolving to counter future threats."
    • U.S. defense (all SO states)
    • Assured human-in-control
  • 3+3
    • 3 years (1999) to reach readiness to deploy in 3 years (2002). In the interim, continue to develop and improve the NMD system
    • Readiness to deploy review in 2000
  • System architecture: "plug and defend"
  • Flexible systems engineering and integration
  • Respond to unknowns in threat and constraints

The current approach to preparing for NMD deployment introduces new and very demanding complexities. The current plan calls for bringing the system to a state of maturity by the end of 1999 such that the system is within 3 years of deployment. In the worst case, that would require deployment in 5 years.

While the readiness review in 2000 would theoretically modify the expectation, the very high visibility of this program is likely to produce intense pressures to maintain the schedule. Hence, the program begins with many of the problems that have beset other HTK programs: compressed schedule, minimal flight test, and poorly defined test objectives.

In addition, the funding for the program has been erratic at best and the program management approach depends to an unprecedented degree on an integrating contractor -- again, an intriguing but unproven approach for a program that is to do something that has never been done before.

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NMD Program Structure

This rendition of the program structure calls for an integrated systems test in FY99 on the fifth test flight -- about 1 year after the first intercept attempt, which occurs on the third test flight.

There is one backup integrated systems test flight available before the readiness review in 2000.

This schedule appears to be significantly more compressed and optimistic that the TMD programs schedules that have proven to be excessively challenging.

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NMD System Risks

System Risk Concern Mitigation
T&E Program
  • Number of tests before deployment
  • increased funding / added more tests / added spares
  • System Discrimination
  • Ability of elements to acquire data, fuse data, and discriminate reentry vehicle (RV) in a time constrained environment
  • Increased developemtn, testing and validation of discrimination algorithms
  • Dual EKV sensor approach
  • System Siting
  • Construction timelines
  • Easements
  • Environmental Impact Statements
  • Incremental deployment
  • Congressional waivers
  • Selected sites / EIS process
  • External Integration
  • Stressing timeline of required integration with external agencies
  • Integration plans developed and being implemented
  • The program office recognizes the fact of high risk associated with the minimal flight test schedule and the very difficult discrimination challenge. Non-technical program challenges are also recognized. However, the program has not yet matured to the point of identifying the specific set of risks that need to be addressed. That activity will have to await the work of the integrating contractor.

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    NMD Test Risk

    • Test and Target Spares
    • Spare booster available for all flights
    • Front section spares formed from a combination of spare components and pulling subsystems from succeeding planned flights
    • Target spares formed by pulling target object from succeeding planned flights

    Spare test assets are a partial answer to the high-risk test program. However, it appears that the current plan for obtaining spares, shown on the slide, is minimal at best.

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    NMD Risks and Mitigation
    System Discrimination (EKV)

    • Risks
      • Battle Managemment/Command, Control, and Communications (BM/C3) fusing different types of sensor data
      • EKV combining IR sensor images with ground-based interceptor (GBI) IR discrimination algorithms
      • EKV target discrimination
    • Mitigation
      • Parallel EKV contractor competition
      • Transition technology activities
      • Rad hardening/mercad telluride technology
      • Focal plane/silicon array technology

    The discrimination problem for NMD is very challenging. The information on this slide was provided by the NMD JPO. The mitigation techniques proposed here are noteworthy but are not adequate to cover the range of risks Already identified.

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    NMD T&E Risk Reduction

    Risk Areas for T&E Resolution
  • limited system level testing
  • Threat target realism
  • Lack of spare test articles
  • Multiple target tests
  • NMD interoperability testing
  • BMDO-Proposed T&E Risk-Rcduction Actions
  • Additional integration facility for pre-IFT test
  • Target object inventory: RVs, decoys, balloons, and so forth
  • Spare test expendables
  • Upgrade launch support at Meck Island
  • Increased risk-reduction flight tests
  • More simulation, test, and evaluation process
  • Specific T&E risks are currently being addressed by the NMD JPO with this set of risk-mitigation measures. While these measures seem necessary, they do not do much to relieve a very demanding development and test schedule.

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