The Department of Defense has decided to classify previously public information regarding future flight tests of ballistic missile defense systems and components.
Information about pending missile defense flight tests, their objectives, and their timing had previously been included in each year’s budget request documents. But that is no longer the case, and such information was withheld from the FY 2019 Missile Defense Agency RDT&E budget book that was published last month.
“Due to the need to safeguard critical defense information, the DOD will not provide timing or test details in advance beyond the required safety notifications for any planned flight tests,” Lt. Gen. Sam Greaves told Jason Sherman of InsideDefense, who noticed the newly restrictive disclosure practice. See “DOD now treating missile defense flight test plans — once public — as classified” by Jason Sherman, Inside the Pentagon, March 1 (subscription req’d).
Classification of flight test information makes it harder for outside observers and overseers — not just foreign intelligence services — to monitor the progress of US ballistic missile defense programs. The Missile Defense Agency’s specific justification for classifying previously unclassified categories of flight test information has not been publicly explained.