The Pentagon’s Director, Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) has released its Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 annual report. The Director, Dr. Michael Gilmore, is the principal staff assistant and senior advisor to the Secretary of Defense on operational test and evaluation.
The section on ballistic missile defense contains lots of information, including the following assessment of the ground based midcourse defense (GMD) system (the system charged with protecting the US homeland against potential long-range missiles launched from North Korea or Iran):
The BMDS capability against strategic threats has not increased because the GMD program continues to resolve deficiencies with its Capability Enhancement II (CE-II) Exo-atmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV). As a result, the GMD program did not conduct a flight test in FY12.
To compare and contrast this assessment from prior assessments, I went back and looked at each DOT&E report since the Missile Defense Agency began deploying ground based interceptors in Alaska in 2004. Below are some direct quotes from those earlier reports:
2011: “To date, GMD has demonstrated a limited capability against a simple threat.”
2010: “To date, GMD has demonstrated a limited capability against a simple threat.”
2009: “To date, GMD has demonstrated a limited capability against a simple threat.”
2008: “While GMD has demonstrated a capability against a simple foreign threat, GMD flight testing to date will not support a high level of confidence in its limited capabilities.”
2007: “To date, GMD demonstrateda limited capability against a simple foreign threat. GMD flight testing to date is not sufficient to provide a high level of statistical confidence in its limited capabilities.”
2006: “The program still needs additional flight test data under stressing condtions to valdate models and simulations and to increase confidence in the models, simulatons, and assessment of system capability.”
2005: “Developmental testing to date indicates that the GMD system may have some inherent defensive capability against a limited missile attack.”
2004: “The GMD program has demonstrated the technical feasibility of hit-to-kill intercepts against reentry vehicles in limited target complexes. The Test Bed architecture is now in place and should have some limited capability to defend against a threat missile from North Korea.”
If you’re sensing a pattern, you’re not alone, We’ll have more to say about the 2012 report soon.