Not so Fast: Comments on “Estimates of Performance and Cost for Boost Phase Intercept” 

In September 2004, Greg Canavan of the Los Alamos National Laboratory presented a paper to the Marshal Institute in Washington, DC.  The paper concludes that a limited space-based, boost-phase interceptor (SBI) missile defense system focused only on North Korea could be built for a little over three billion dollars.  This remarkable figure required review.  We have found that the cost estimate depends on a combination of:         (1) extremely optimistic, kill-vehicle mass estimates, (2) SBI cost estimates based on unrealistic learning curve values, (3) a somewhat exaggerated interceptor concentration based on a simplified model of satellite coverage, and (4) an unrealistically thin system designed to intercept a single North Korean missile.

Without these optimistic inputs for cost, mass, and coverage, the model generally confirms earlier estimates by the American Physical Society and the Congressional Budget Office.  Click here to link to the PDF version of the paper.