Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force For Acquisition

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee:

Thank you for this opportunity to appear before you and discuss the Air Force’s contributions to Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD). Countering the ballistic missile threat is a complex problem -- there are no point solutions. The Air Force components of BMD, in concert with the BMDO and other service programs, provide critical capabilities which will enable Theater Missile Defense (TMD) systems to achieve full-dimensional protection for deployed forces and a National Missile Defense (NMD) system to protect our nation. The Air Force is committed to providing defense against the growing ballistic missile threat. This threat to our nation and our allies is real, and we appreciate your concern, support, and funding for our efforts.

In light of Dr Gansler’s statements on the existing and growing missile threat, and the Department of Defense’s response to meeting that threat, I would like to discuss the Air Force’s contribution to the BMD kill chain.


The BMD Kill Chain

The key functions of the BMD kill chain are to detect, track, target, engage, and assess the effectiveness of our engagements against missile threats. This kill chain starts and ends with an appropriate system of sensors and the requisite Battle Management Command, Control, and Communications (BMC3) to make accurate and timely decisions with regard to potential ballistic missile threats. These capabilities provide the eyes, ears, brains, and central nervous system for our TMD and NMD Programs.


Air Force Contribution to TMD

Detect, Track, Target, and Assess

A large share of the system of sensors used to provide critical Intelligence Preparation of the Battlespace and initial launch warning and assessment of Theater Ballistic Missiles (TBMs) reside within the Air Force’s Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) programs. Air Force airborne ISR assets such as the U-2 and Rivet Joint, in conjunction with national technical means, provide critical data to support pre-planning. Once combat operations are underway, Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (Joint STARS), U-2, Rivet Joint, Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs), Defense Support Program (DSP), and, in the near future, Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS), provide near real time information to a Joint Air Operations Center to rapidly initiate attack operations against enemy theater missile systems and to cue active defense systems.

The DSP has been a vital ISR system for many years. As the DSP nears the end of its service, the Air Force will gradually replace it with the more capable SBIRS, adding significant capability to our TMD architecture. The global coverage of SBIRS-High, with improved sensitivity and revisit rates over DSP, will allow better launch point determination, missile trajectory determination, and impact point prediction. These improvements will also ensure we can continue to detect, track, and assess the increasingly complex ballistic missile threats being fielded. SBIRS-Low will provide critical mid-course track data to the battle manager to allow accurate targeting and engagement of hostile threats. SBIRS improved early warning and tracking capabilities reduce the military utility and terror value of the weapons of mass destruction by greatly enhancing the response and effectiveness of active and passive defenses. In addition, SBIRS supports the roles of Technical Intelligence and Battlespace Characterization which will greatly improve our assessment of enemy capabilities, our situational awareness during conflict, and our engagement results.



To provide rapid and decisive action against the serious threat of TBMs, the Air Force provides several key BMC3 components for controlling theater counter missile operations. Assets such as Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS), Joint STARS, Attack and Launch Early Reporting to Theater (ALERT), and Global Broadcast System (GBS) serve as pipelines to convey information to a Joint Air Operations Center to rapidly initiate and coordinate counter missile operations. To ensure we remain joint in our outlook, the Air Force works closely with the BMDO, Joint Theater Air and Missile Defense Organization (JTAMDO), and other services to ensure interoperability. Further, the Air Force recently created the Aerospace Command and Control, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Center to focus our BMC3 and ISR efforts across the board. This Center is already beginning to pay big dividends in integrating our TMD efforts, as evidenced in our recent Joint Expeditionary Force Experiment, JEFX-98.


Engaging Theater Ballistic Missiles - Attack Operations and the Airborne Laser

Aerospace superiority is the cornerstone of offensive operations, which allow us to take the fight to the enemy, seize the initiative, and leverage the full span of joint warfighting capability. Counterair operations to gain and maintain air superiority enable Attack Operations against TBMs. Attack Operations can prevent or disrupt launch of TBMs by targeting the enemy’s launch platforms and missiles on the ground. Additionally, Attack Operations include attacks on ISR assets, command and control nodes, and support facilities. Attack operations can be executed by all offensive forces, including air, ground, maritime, and special operations. The effectiveness of Attack Operations depends on our ability to detect TBMs on the ground, recognize and classify them, and attack with precision before they can be launched. Barring that, we will seek to destroy mobile Transportable Erector-Launchers (TELs) just after launch with our Attack Operations assets, and we will engage the TBMs in their boost stage with the next Air Force component of the TMD system, the Airborne Laser (ABL).


The ABL is one of our most exciting weapon system development programs and has the potential to revolutionize warfare. While flying in friendly airspace, the Airborne Laser will be able to reach hundreds of kilometers into enemy territory to destroy enemy targets at the speed of light.

Because of this capability, the ABL will play a vital role in our TMD architecture. The ABL’s high-energy laser system is DoD’s only weapon system designed to destroy TBMs during their initial stage of flight (i.e., boost phase). This intercept capability will give theater commanders the unique ability to destroy TBMs long before they place American or allied troops at risk. Our enemies will also face the potential of having TBM debris fall on their own territory -- this will provide a high level of deterrence, especially if our enemies are contemplating using weapons of mass destruction.

ABL improves the entire TMD architecture performance with its long range sensors and laser tracking capability. These systems will provide advance cues on in-bound enemy missiles to the radars of land- and sea-based missile defense systems, thereby extending their potential coverage. ABL will also significantly enhance attack operations by transmitting highly accurate TBM launch point information.

The ABL has enjoyed great success over the last year. It has achieved all of its milestones while maintaining the program on-schedule and on-cost. One success included building a laser module with all critical components "flight-weighted." This involved reducing a previous test laser module weighing more than 5500 lbs down to one weighing about 3000 lbs. Most impressively, this same laser module produced 110% of design power, a full 4 years before needed. This and many other program successes provide us confidence that ABL will be able to meet, if not surpass, its requirements.

Despite these successes, concerns exist over the ABL’s development and test schedule. The FY99 $25M reduction to the ABL program required the Air Force to restructure the Program Definition and Risk Reduction (PDRR) efforts. As part of the restructure, the Air Force made a conscious decision to address the areas of concern by strengthening our risk reduction activities. First, we funded near-term testing on the ABL’s ability to overcome atmospheric distortion. Second, additional atmospheric data collection and analysis will bolster our growing atmospheric database. Third, lethality and vulnerability testing will provide further confidence in ABL’s kill mechanism. Finally, we increased the number of test targets and expanded the PDRR integration and test schedules to reduce risk. The new plan will result in the program stretching by 1 year. In FY03, the PDRR ABL will demonstrate lethal capability against SCUD-class missiles. The restructured ABL program will field three aircraft (Initial Operational Capability) by FY07 and seven aircraft (Full Operational Capability) by FY09.

ABL is the Air Force’s near-term directed energy solution to address theater-level boost phase intercept. ABL’s kill ranges, rechargeable magazine, and relatively low cost per shot focus it towards the TMD mission. However, ABL may provide valuable operational and technological insights for the Space Based Laser (SBL). ABL is currently generating data on high-energy laser weapon operability, reliability, target acquisition, pointing, tracking and lethality. In addition, ABL will mature operational procedures for integrating high-energy laser weapons into our Aerospace Expeditionary Forces.

The Air Force is firmly committed to the ABL program. The critical technologies needed to make ABL a reality have been proven. The challenge now is to integrate these technologies on our PDRR aircraft. Our restructured program is more robust with significant additions to risk reduction efforts, and the Air Force looks forward to introducing this revolutionary warfighting capability to our joint force commanders.


Air Force Contributions to NMD

Detect, Track, Target, and Assess

Similar to our efforts outlined in the TMD section, the Air Force is heavily engaged in providing this nation with its Integrated Tactical Warning / Attack Assessment architecture. Included in this architecture are Ballistic Missile Early Warning System (BMEWS), PAVE Phased Array Warning System (PAVE PAWS), DSP, and SBIRS. Hardware and software upgrades for the BMEWS and PAVE PAWS radars, when operated in conjunction with DSP and SBIRS launch notification, will allow the Upgraded Early Warning Radars (UEWR) to detect and track re-entry vehicle sized objects close to the horizon. BMC3 could also use the threat missile data provided by the UEWRs to support the kill vehicle intercept and hit assessment.


SBIRS will provide the nation with new and improved warning and sensing capabilities for the next century, allowing the accomplishment of a greater number of missions from space. This system comprises a modernization effort to provide greatly improved Tactical Warning and Attack Assessment capabilities to replace those provided by DSP since the early 1970’s, and adds new capabilities for Technical Intelligence and Battlespace Characterization. As we initiate our SBIRS deployments, the DSP program, which currently has 5 replacement satellites awaiting launch, will be sustained to allow continuous global surveillance during this transition period.

The completed SBIRS will consist of constellations of geosynchronous earth orbit (GEO), highly elliptical orbit (HEO), and low earth orbit (LEO) spacecraft as well as a supporting ground infrastructure. SBIRS-High will be composed of 4 GEO spacecraft to provide hemispherical coverage and 2 HEO sensors to provide polar coverage. SBIRS-Low will be composed of approximately 24 LEO satellites, with the actual number to be determined during the program definition phase. The SBIRS ground segment consists of a consolidated ground station, overseas-based Relay Ground Stations, and Mobile Multi-Mission Processors.

In support of NMD, SBIRS will provide BMC3 with initial launch detection and missile trajectory information. The global coverage of SBIRS-High, with improved sensitivity and revisit rates over DSP, will allow better launch point determination and impact point prediction. SBIRS-Low will support NMD by providing critical mid-course track and discrimination data to the Battle Manager to allow accurate targeting and engagement of hostile threats.

The Air Force recently announced a restructuring of the SBIRS program. This restructuring was only implemented after careful consideration to mission risk and our overall BMD efforts.

SBIRS-High first GEO launch was delayed by 2 years until FY04. In the short term this slip freed up much needed FY00 funds for higher priority programs and readiness. Supporting this decision was the longer than expected availability of DSP. This slip supports the BMDO NMD C1 schedule with a SBIRS-High IOC in FY06.

The SBIRS-Low first launch was delayed 2 years to FY06. This decision was driven by technical and schedule challenges. Updated assessments concluded a FY04 launch was extremely risky and impractical. A SBIRS-Low launch in FY06 supports the NMD schedule for C2 in FY10.

A decision to also eliminate two on-orbit demonstrations from the SBIRS-Low program, after formulation of the FY00 budget, was driven by rapidly diminishing returns on investment. Significant risk reductions have been achieved by these efforts to date. However, continued cost growth was consuming program funds at a rate that made the demonstration program unexecutable. The Air Force developed an alternative strategy to ensure SBIRS-Low remained executable and on schedule for an FY06 launch. By terminating the two demonstrations, the Air Force was able to redirect funds toward a more timely risk reduction focused directly on the objective SBIRS-Low design. Meanwhile other on-orbit demonstrations have demonstrated much of the technology critical to SBIRS. These demonstrations were on-orbit experimental packages, not prototype SBIRS satellites. An expanded PDRR focuses more resources on the objective system and should result in a more mature system design when the EMD phase of the program is competed.


The Air Force works closely with BMDO and the other Services to develop the NMD BMC3 system. Our goal is to ensure BMC3 is incorporated smoothly with existing systems at the Cheyenne Mountain Operations Center.


Engaging National Missile Threats - Space-Based Laser

The Space-Based Laser (SBL) could provide the National Command Authorities with a highly reliable missile defense and space superiority weapon. If deployed, SBL will be a significant capability affording the nation global presence and precision engagement at the speed of light. It will likely be the boost-phase layer in a robust NMD architecture.

The SBL vision recognizes the accelerating pace of ballistic missile proliferation worldwide. There are numerous developing countries with the ability to deliver weapons of mass destruction using ballistic missiles. SBL is a global, directed energy space platform that could address such a threat as well as the trend towards simultaneous launches and longer range missiles. SBL is also being designed to prevent catastrophe from an accidental or unauthorized missile launch.

The SBL program could also act as a counter-proliferation weapon due to its robust capability to eliminate targets during their boost phase. Boost phase intercept tremendously deters the use of chemical, biological, and nuclear warheads through the ominous threat of debris falling on the launcher’s territory.

An important future step for the SBL system is an Integrated Flight Experiment (IFX). The IFX is the first step in proving feasibility and utility of killing ballistic missiles in boost phase from orbit. The IFX is essential to reducing risk for an affordable SBL and enhancing readiness in the event of a decision to deploy an operational SBL system. The IFX will permit the Air Force to integrate laser components into a space platform to perform on-orbit experiments which will reduce risk in several important areas:

Key technologies (e.g., deployable optics, remote beam control, high energy nozzles),

Space vehicle, laser, and optical system integration for operation in space,

Reliable performance of Acquisition, Tracking, Pointing, and Fire Control,

Human interaction to include command and control, and

Affordability of the system.

SBL’s primary mission will be national ballistic missile defense; however, the IFX may show military utility in other areas as well. SBL may have potential use in tasks such as: ground surveillance and reconnaissance; tactical warning; target designation; space object tracking and identification; and destruction of airborne or soft ground targets. It is also possible that a SBL constellation could engage most TBMs. The possible evolution of missions is consistent with the Air Force’s historical development approach of migrating technology from air platforms to space platforms. The IFX will help us evaluate these possibilities.

Thus far the SBL program has been successful in reducing the cost and technical risks of deploying and operating multi-megawatt lasers in space. The 1998 achievement of high power laser autonomous laser alignment demonstrates that the critical laser optical path can be monitored and adjusted remotely from the ground. The SBL program has developed, simplified and proven several key subsystems such as uncooled, deformable mirrors, resulting in a 40 percent reduction in spacecraft weight and significantly reducing optical component production cost and time.

In spite of the SBL program’s technical achievements, there was concern that an IFX would not be launched soon enough to enable an operational SBL system in time to meet the projected threat. In response, the Air Force and BMDO increased funding for the SBL program by $46M per year through the FYDP ($29M per year from the Air Force, $17M per year from BMDO), raising the total to $139M per year. This additional funding will be used to accelerate risk reduction and technology development prior to the IFX. The Air Force and BMDO also revised the SBL acquisition strategy to pull the best technical experts together to focus on achieving the IFX sooner.

BMDO recently sponsored the third Independent Review Team (IRT-3) as part of the ongoing assessment of technological readiness, role, and content for an effective IFX. The IRT-3 concluded the range of appropriate time frames for an IFX launch is 2010 to 2012. Currently planned budget levels and priorities lead to a launch planned for 2012. The team noted that achieving operational capability is less dependent on an IFX launch date than DoD commitment to deployment and "the IRT perceives that the Department is embarking on such a program." The IRT-3 recommended the Air Force lay out a specific series of near-, mid-, and far-term milestones to ensure disciplined progress toward the IFX and enhance readiness to deploy an operational system. The team also recommended including deployable optics in the IFX to reduce risk for the overall SBL effort. Finally, IRT-3 reiterated the need for a ground facility to provide end-to-end system checkout before launch, and that such a facility should be operational at least 2 years before planned launch.

In addition to its commitment to NMD, the Air Force is committed to long term investment in directed energy (DE). As a weapon, DE is a relatively new concept, and it offers a revolutionary ability to achieve our objectives rapidly and with few casualties. The synergistic, parallel development of ABL and SBL, as pathfinders, are the critical first steps in operationalizing DE weapons, and both will serve as effective incubators for investigating and developing the potential of DE systems. The Air Force, as a result of its more than 20 years experience in DE, is well postured to lead the development of this revolutionary capability.

In conclusion, the Air Force is proud to be developing many of the systems required for effective TMD and NMD. Each solution requires a system of systems approach, and changes to any of the programs must be taken in the context of its role within this system of systems. The Air Force is committed to the aggressive development and fielding of these TMD and NMD systems, including ABL, SBL, and SBIRS. Fielding an effective defense is essential to our future joint warfighting capability, and the Air Force initiatives in TMD and NMD will contribute significantly to this goal.