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Fri, May 08, 2009

White House Aero-Hit-List #6: Multiple Kill Vehicle Program

$17 Billion Cut... But Trillions More Spent Elsewhere

The Obama Administration, in the process of spending trillions of dollars for all manner of programs and projects, is trumpeted the 17 Billion dollars it is trying to cut from the Federal Budget. Rather than try to digest them all en masse, we'll look at each of them one at a time and allow you to make up YOUR mind as to the rationale and wisdom for the decisions included below. Herewith; another of the programs on the chopping block that has an aviation or aerospace connotation.

From the 'Terminations, Reductions, and Savings' document published this week by the OMB, as part of the FY 2010 US Budget:

Proposal: The Administration proposes to terminate the Multiple Kill Vehicle (MKV), which is a long-term research and development program designed to counter ballistic missile threats by using several "kill" vehicles launched from a single interceptor, or missile. The Administration will instead focus on proven, near-term missile defense programs that can provide more immediate defenses of the United States, its deployed forces, and allies against ballistic missile attack.

Justification: The primary reason the Administration proposes to terminate this long-term development program is to focus, instead, on proven, near-term missile defense programs, such as the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) and the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense programs. The capabilities of the THAAD and Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense programs have been demonstrated through numerous successful flight tests.

This termination of MKV will save over $4 billion from 2010 through 2015. In addition, program requirements are uncertain and the program is already behind schedule and over budget because of technological problems. In its 2009 Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) assessed 16 of the program's critical technologies as immature and questioned whether the program could achieve its goals because it has yet to set top-level requirements. In addition, in a March 2009 report, GAO pointed out that MKV experienced software development problems that delayed its planned 2008 fall test by several months.2 In that same report, GAO estimated that one of MKV's task orders would have a cost overrun of between $1.6 million and $2.5 million, or between 8 to 13 percent, above the original budgeted amount.

FMI: www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/fy2010/assets/trs.pdf

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