DOT&E Director, Operational Test & Evaluation  
FY98 Annual Report
FY98 Annual Report


DoD ACAT 1D Program: Prime Contractor
Total Number of Systems:20 GBIs (Capability 1)LSI: - Boeing North American
Total Program Cost (TY$):$23,070M*EKV - Raytheon
Pro Rata Interceptor Cost (TY$):$1,150M 
Deployment Readiness Review:4QFY00Service Certified Y2K Compliant
Capability 1 IOC:FY03No – (Expected 1QFY99)
*Assumes that deployment is in Alaska. The figure quoted includes the cost of operating the system for 20 years as well as developmental, production, and construction costs.


The mission of the National Missile Defense (NMD) system is to defend all fifty United States against a limited strike of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs). The system must perform detection, discrimination, battle management, and intercept functions that require the integration of multiple sensor, communications, command and control, and weapon systems. The acquisition strategy for NMD consists of two phases: (1) development; and (2) possible deployment, based on the threat and the system's demonstrated performance to meet that threat. A decision to deploy, based on the recommendation of the Deployment Readiness Review (DRR), currently planned for FY00, would result in the fielding of a Capability 1 architecture in three years. If no deployment decision is made, the program will continue development with an eventual focus on a more capable NMD Capability 2 system.

The NMD system is an integrated collection of elements that perform dedicated functions during an ICBM engagement. The System will include a Battle Management, Command, Control, and Communications (BMC3) element, four types of long-range sensors—the Defense Support Program and Space Based Infrared System satellites, Upgraded Early Warning Radar, and an X-Band Radar and an arsenal of Ground Based Interceptors (GBI). The BMC3 at the Cheyenne Mountain Operations Center performs engagement planning and situation assessment while keeping a "human-in-control", and serves to integrate the GBI and sensor operations through the In-Flight Interceptor Communications System. The GBI is a silo-based, three-stage, commercial-off-the-shelf, ICBM-class missile that delivers a separating Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV) to an "acquisition point" above the atmosphere en route to engage a threat target. At this point, in a manner similar to upper-tier theater missile defense systems, the EKV uses an infrared seeker to acquire and track the target, firing divert thrusters (for terminal guidance and control) to achieve a direct hit on the target reentry vehicle. After the intercept, external sensors continue to collect data so that a kill assessment can be made to evaluate the success or failure of the engagement.

By design, NMD embodies the Joint Vision 2010 operational concept of precision engagement: NMD is an integrated system of subsystem elements, relying on information superiority to provide responsive command and control to engage attacking ICBMs. It performs kill assessment to evaluate the success of an engagement, and is capable of executing multiple engagements. By providing defense for the nation, NMD also incorporates the Joint Vision 2010 concept of full-dimensional protection.


In early 1996, the DoD completed a comprehensive review of its theater and national ballistic missile defense programs. The review shifted the NMD program from a Technology Readiness Program (1993-1996) to a Deployment Readiness Program (1996-2003), with the potential for a deployment decision in 2000. The deployment readiness approach reduces the lead-time to deploy an NMD system, and acts as a hedge against uncertain threat. The development and testing of the Deployment Readiness Program also complies with U.S. international treaty obligations.

In the spring of 1998, the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO) awarded the Lead System Integrator (LSI) contract to Boeing North America. The LSI serves as the prime contractor for NMD system development. The LSI contractor will be responsible for developing the components of the NMD "toolbox" (radars, interceptors, and the BMC3), as well as ensuring that the various elements of the system operate uniformly as a single system. In addition, the LSI will integrate the entire NMD system and demonstrate its capability through integrated ground and flight-testing. The LSI will also serve as the key player in developing the necessary plans for fielding the system, should the decision be made to do so.


The first three years of the NMD "3+3" program is the system development phase. It is during this phase that an initial NMD capability is developed and demonstrated. This period will culminate in the DRR, which will determine whether the NMD Capability 1 system should be deployed by FY03 or postponed to a later date. The currently approved TEMP lays out a road map for testing prior to the DRR. An update to that version is in the early stages. The purpose of the new TEMP is to define the specific progression of the T&E program from a potential DRR deployment go ahead to an IOC in 2003. The near-term focus of the NMD T&E Program hinges on its ability to provide accurate test information and data in support of the DRR, and the ability of the system to achieve the following objectives:

Capability 1 system elements are derived from previous technology programs and will be integrated and tested in a series of Integrated Flight Tests (IFTs). Using surrogates to approximate NMD elements (as needed), IFTs are designed to collect data that address system issues and key technical parameters, verify the performance of NMD elements, and demonstrate overall system effectiveness. The final test to demonstrate overall system performance before the DRR, referred to as the Integrated System Test (IST), or IFT-5, is scheduled for 2QFY00, and will play a key role in demonstrating that overall system objectives are met.

The initial flight test, IFT-1, was attempted in January 1997, but the Payload Launch Vehicle, the surrogate for the missile booster, failed to launch and the test was aborted. Since then, the NMD T&E program has performed two integrated flight tests: IFT-1A and IFT-2. IFT-1A, executed in June 1997, and IFT-2, executed in January 1998 were deemed highly successful. Both IFT-1A and IFT-2 were non-intercept, fly-by tests, designed to assess EKV seeker discrimination and homing algorithm design. The EKVs for IFT-1A and IFT-2 were built by Boeing and Raytheon, respectively. The next integrated flight test, IFT-3, is scheduled for June 1999. It will be the first attempt at intercepting a threat-representative ICBM target launched from Vandenberg AFB. The GBI surrogate will be launched from Meck Island in the Kwajalein Atoll, about 4,200 miles west of Vandenberg. IFT-3 and IFT-4 were supposed to be intercept attempts by Boeing and Raytheon in support of an EKV contractor downselect, prior to IFT-5. At the recommendation of the LSI, the NMD Joint program Office (JPO) has opted to downselect to a single EKV design prior to IFT-3. This approach has the advantage of three possible intercept flights with the selected EKV prior to the DRR, but has the added risk of no attempts prior to downselect.

Integrated Ground Tests (IGTs) will be conducted utilizing the Integrated System Test Capability, a computer-based hardware/software-in-the-loop test tool that uses actual NMD element data processors and software in an integrated configuration. Unlike the range-constrained IFTs, IGTs will test the total engagement space in a tactical environment. They will also: (1) validate the functional interfaces between the elements; (2) subject them to stressing environments and tactical scenarios; and (3) evaluate target-intercept boundary conditions. In short, IGTs will enable identification of "unknown unknowns" in an interactive system context, and verify the interoperability of NMD elements.

Computer models and simulations will provide representations of elements that are not mature enough for the test program. The principal simulation tool providing DRR support is the LSI Integration Distributed Simulation. Modeling and simulation will be employed to effectively repeat hypothetical experiments in order to improve the statistical sample or determine the values of key technical parameters that may have been overlooked or unmeasured.

All NMD flight-testing will be in compliance with the Anti Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty and other applicable treaties at the time of testing. Kwajalein Missile Range (KMR) and White Sands Missile Range are authorized to launch interceptors under the ABM treaty, but only KMR is configured to accept incoming strategically representative target flights. Accordingly, flight tests will use target suites launched from Vandenberg and directed towards KMR.

The LFT&E Working Group, a subgroup of the NMD Lethality IPT is currently developing the LFT&E strategy for NMD. Proposed post-DRR LFT&E activities include flight-testing, sub-scale light-gas-gun testing, and simulation analyses.

The NMD T&E program also includes a number of pre-DRR lethality test and analysis activities to support the development and accreditation first-principles physics codes, commonly known as hydrocodes, for application to NMD. These simulation tools will be used for analyses in both pre- and post-DRR timeframes. The activities include: (1) target aerothermal shield damage analyses; (2) hydrocode analyses that define kill criteria for the respective EKV designs proposed by Boeing and Raytheon; (3) light-gas-gun impact testing for hydrocode validation; (4) kill-enhancement device testing; and (5) light-gas-gun testing to develop and validate material equations of state at high velocities.

While NMD is not yet Y2K compliant, the JPO has a plan in effect to meet the DOD requirement of compliance by December 1998. The process includes assessment, renovation, and implementation phases. Each element must submit a separate plan and pass through a BMDO Compliance Review Board. The overall program addresses not only NMD system elements but also interface considerations for ancillary sensor and command and control systems. Assessments are also being made of range support, system simulation facilities such as the Integrated System Test Capability, and surrogate systems supporting T&E and system development.


The aggressive schedule established for the NMD Deployment Readiness Program presents a major challenge. For instance, if a deployment is required by 2003, the NMD program will have to compress the work of 10 to 12 years into 6 years. As a result, many of the design and T&E activities will be done concurrently. Program delays have already caused IFT-3 to move to June 1999. This represents almost an 18-month slip over the last year and a half. This clearly demonstrates an extremely high-risk schedule and DOT&E considers the probability of meeting the DRR on time with the currently planned T&E program as highly unlikely.

The complex operating characteristics and environments of the NMD T&E Program make it necessary to plan and conduct IFTs that are limited in scope. DRR information based on a few flight tests with immature elements will be limited. As a result, the T&E program will rely heavily on ground testing and the execution of simulations for assessing the maturity and performance of the NMD system concept. For example, the decision to downselect the EKV contract early eliminates the benefit of intercept flight data to support that decision. This warrants a rigorous ground hardware-in-the-loop simulator test program to assess competing seeker design. It does not appear, however, that the LSI will increase the scope of that ground testing in the absence of the flight test.

The following risks can potentially impact the NMD T&E program's ability to test, analyze, and evaluate system performance:


The NMD system shares an important functional attribute with theater missile defense systems like THAAD, Navy Theater Wide, and PAC-3—all are hit-to-kill systems. Recent THAAD flight test failures have provided us with the following important lessons: (1) hit-to-kill technology is extremely difficult; (2) pre-flight checkouts of reliability and performance need to be emphasized; and (3) strict quality control activities need to be implemented in the manufacturing of the GBI. In addition, the failure of IFT-1 underscored the need for a more robust program for targets and system spares, which will support the development of ballistic missile defense systems. This failure and its resultant impact on the test program highlights the very high level of schedule risk associated with the NMD program.

All of the above points were reemphasized in the findings of the Institute for Defense Analyses study, chaired by Retired General Larry Welch, on Reducing Risk in Ballistic Missile Defense Flight Test Programs. This study was co-sponsored by DOT&E, the Director, Systems, Engineering and Evaluation, and the Director, Ballistic Missile Defense Organization.

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