“Finally, there has been little evidence either of serious cost-benefit analysis or of systems analysis and engineering before embarking on new initiatives within [the Missile Defense Agency] MDA. In the committee’s view, past systems proposed for U.S. boost-phase defense as well as the current [Ground Based Midcourse Defense] GMD system architecture are classic examples. The concept of spiral development in no way justifies not defining the objectives and requirements for the desired end state. MDA’s efforts have spawned an almost “hobby shop” approach, with many false starts on poorly analyzed concepts.”
The National Research Council (NRC), “Making Sense of Ballistic Missile Defense: An Assessment of Concepts and Systems for U.S. Boost-Phase Missile Defense in Comparison to Other Alternatives”, September 11, 2011.
We’ve already had plenty to say about the NRC report and will have plenty more to say. As Tom Collina noted in his excellent piece in Foreign Policy, the report “finds the GMD system’s “shortcomings” so serious that it recommends the system be completely redesigned, rebuilt, and retested, with a faster missile booster and heavier interceptor or “kill vehicle” and more capable sensors — a process that could take up to a decade or more and billions of dollars at a time of tight defense budgets.”
I draw attention to the report’s condemnation of the Missile Defense Agency (and there are many more instances of criticism in the report than the passage excerpted here) because it is the Missile Defense Agency that would presumably be tasked with completely overhauling the GMD system. But of course part of the reason the GMD enterprise is in the poor shape that it’s in is because of MDA’s chronic mismanagement and well-documented failures. In other words, what makes the NRC think MDA will have more success in implementing a radically reshaped GMD architecture?