07 September 2000

Defense Department Report, Thursday, September 7


The next test of the National Missile Defense (NMD) system, initially
scheduled for December, now will probably take place "sometime early
next year," Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon told reporters at the Defense
Department September 7, after the Ballistic Missile Defense
Organization (BMDO) has completed its analysis of the failure of
Integrated-Test number five last July.

The BMDO wants to make sure that it "understands how to make the fixes
if necessary so the same problem doesn't happen again," he said. Bacon
cited Defense Secretary Cohen's recent statement in which "he vowed to
continue to work as aggressively as possible on the development of a
workable NMD system. So we'd like to get this test done and successful
as soon as possible."

If one had to choose between success and speed, "We'd choose success,"
the spokesman said. "So the BMDO will work as hard as it can to make
sure it can perform the test successfully. . . My guess is it'll be
sometime early next year. We're not going to sit on our hands. On the
other hand, we've always wanted to take the time necessary to assure
as much success as possible."

Delay means added cost, he said, and NMD program expenses are expected
to rise. "We don't know how much at this stage. We'll try to come up
with a good figure as soon as possible."