cant amounts of useful data. Yet the committee could not find anyone at MDA who could show it those data or explain them let alone the data from ground-based interceptor flight tests.

•   Forty years of optical signature data from well-instrumented past and recent flight tests are lying fallow and unanalyzed with respect to current technological capabilities. These include programs with acronyms such as designating optical tracker (DOT), fly-along infrared (FAIR), the Homing Overlay Experiment (HOE), the Queen Match Discrimination Experiment, and others.

•   While radar and optical midcourse discrimination technologies have been pursued for years, they have largely been on separate tracks and more in competition than in collaboration.

Homeland Defense

The GMD system at FGA and VAFB was deployed before its development was complete in order to meet what was considered an urgent need to get a system deployed quickly. As a result, GMD could not benefit from a normal development cycle, and it evolved in an environment of changing requirements, with the end result that it is limited in its ability to perform the U.S. homeland defense mission.

The current GMD architecture does not take advantage of technically available means of discrimination or of effective engagement doctrine, but it could be modified to do so. Its shortcomings are not limited to concerns about discrimination. The GMD interceptors are very expensive ($70 million to $86 million FY 2010 dollars) even in comparison with other non-BMD weapon systems of comparable size and complexity. To the extent the firing doctrine for GMD would rely on firing salvos the expense can be even greater. Other limitations in the current GMD system are discussed in classified Appendix J.

Significant but feasible and affordable upgrades are needed to the GMD system and its configuration and supporting facilities if it is to be genuinely capable of its stated mission of protecting all of the U.S. homeland against the sort of long-range missile attack that North Korea and Iran may be able to mount in the next decade or so if they press their development programs forward. Specific upgrades are provided in Chapter 5.

Major Finding 6: To be credible and effective, any ballistic missile defense system must be robust even if any of its elements fail to work as planned, whether that failure is due to a failure of discrimination or to something else. Moreover, a properly configured midcourse defense is the most cost-effective and resilient method of defending the U.S. homeland against ballistic missile attack. What is needed is a system that is resilient to failure, in particular the failure to discriminate successfully. This implies making use of SLS doctrine that exploits the potential battle space. The committee has analyzed the effectiveness of the discrimination capability of the GMD system and finds that the system can, if it



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement