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Prepared Statement by Director, Ballistic Missile Defense Organization, before the Senate Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Defense
Prepared Statement by Lt. Gen. Lester L. Lyles, USAF, Director, Ballistic Missile Defense Organization, Washington, D.C., Wednesday, April 14, 1999

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, it is always a pleasure to appear before you. I would like to submit my statement for the record and briefly outline a few key points about our missile defense programs.

I consciously refer to missile defense as our program, because the Congress and this committee in particular have played a crucial role in ensuring that the program is robustly funded and oriented toward the important goal of fielding systems to support the warfighter.

Your personal leadership -- and strong support -- resulted in the $1 billion emergency supplemental for missile defense last year. This important funding source provided a critical "jump start" to the administration’s revised National Missile Defense program strategy.

So, on behalf of the department and my team -- and ultimately the people for whom we will provide effective missile defenses -- I want to start my remarks with a very sincere "thank you."

The funds you have appropriated have been absolutely critical to the continued development and demonstration of the systems we are very close to fielding.

For instance, our Navy Theater Wide is progressing at a reasonable pace and is now fully funded for the first time in our president’s budget submission. We also provided for additional test assets for the NMD program. Last year’s IMPACT 98 legislation will allow us to fund critical tests to demonstrate whether or not the lower-tier TMD systems will have a robust capability against longer-range theater class missile threats. This will give us a hedge against emerging medium-range threats until our upper-tier systems are fielded. We could not have funded these important efforts without your support.

As the committee is aware, on January 20, 1999, Secretary Cohen announced our revised NMD program approach, which included adding some $6.6 billion to the program through fiscal year 2005. For the first time, the department has allocated the funding necessary to fully develop and deploy an NMD system. The other key element that the secretary announced was our expectation that the likely deployment date would be 2005 based on meeting key technology milestones. However, we have preserved the option to field the system earlier than 2005, if the threat warrants it and we have made good technical progress.

We have incorporated some of the lessons we have learned from our TMD programs -–which I will discuss shortly – and revised the program by adding ground tests, simulations, and flight tests. We have done this so that we could adequately test and demonstrate the NMD system before proceeding to the next step in acquisition. However, in light of the emerging threat, we opted to "put our money where our mouth is" and fully fund the program through deployment.

We have developed and are demonstrating key elements of the NMD system, such as the radar and BMC3 software. In 1997 and 1998, we conducted two very successful seeker "fly by" tests. They demonstrated key elements of the kill vehicle -- namely the "eyes" of the interceptor.

The proof of the NMD system’s technical maturity will be put to the test over the next 18 months in a demanding series of system tests. This summer, the performance of the interceptor will be demonstrated as we attempt to intercept an ICBM-class target. This test will be followed by a series of intercept tests, each one building on its predecessor.

The combination of additional resources -- starting with last year’s supplemental bill and joined by the department’s increase in our programmed budget -- has made it possible for us to structure a realistic NMD program. I am confident in that with these additional resources and strong focus, the NMD team will be able to demonstrate the technical maturity of the system in order to support a national decision on deployment.


As we develop our TMD systems, I regret that not all our experiences have been successful. We have experienced some test failures. We have experienced some cost growth. I would like to put this in perspective.

As a result of the lessons learned from Desert Storm, we were heavily focused on schedule, rather than costs. Moreover, in our haste to deploy, we underestimated some of the technical and cost challenges -- and when delays occurred, cost growth also occurred.

During the past two years, I directed independent assessments of our acquisition programs -- in order to understand how well we were managing and addressing the technical risks. One result was the Welch Panel study – commonly referred to as the "rush to failure" study. No matter how one approaches missile defense, the key lesson we have learned was that you cannot skip over critical engineering and testing steps to try to field an effective system quickly. The result is the kinds of quality problems that have plagued and delayed our THAAD program.

In some cases, our emphasis on schedule resulted in an environment where we were not properly focused on controlling costs. These were important lessons and we are working diligently to refocus our approach.

A prime example of this is that we underestimated both the time and costs required to integrate software into some of our TMD interceptor systems. When the technical challenges presented themselves, and timelines stretched out, our development costs grew. This is the case primarily with the PAC-3 system, but we have similar experiences with the Navy Area system.

While we have seen this cost growth during the development phase of our programs, I am confident that we will be able to contain system costs in later phases and ensure an affordable production program.

During recent months, I have worked very closely with the services and the OSD staff to ensure that we execute our missile defense programs in an affordable manner. While we have experienced significant cost growth in some of our Theater Missile Defense programs, my staff and I are committed to controlling these costs. BMDO is taking a series of tough management actions to get costs under control and to reduce the projected costs of our systems. These actions include:

    • establishing firm cost baselines based on the actual development histories we are experiencing;
    • working closely with the system contractors to verify and validate cost estimates;
    • working with the system contractors to identify opportunities to control development costs;
    • identifying with the contractor and government team initiatives to reduce production and unit costs;
    • restructuring our acquisition and contract strategies to incentivize cost controls instead of focusing on schedule performance;
    • examining other cost leverages -- such as "competition" at the subsystems or systems level to drive down unit costs; and
    • reviewing award fees and profits.

These actions, and many others, must be done in close cooperation and teamwork with our industry and service partners. Through these efforts, I hope to create a "lean missile initiative" that changes the very culture of how we do business in the missile defense community. We cannot focus solely on schedule, but costs as well.

I am confident that we -- with our talented industry teams -- can provide the warfighter highly effective missile defense systems and provide them very soon. My confidence is grounded in recent test results. On March 15, 1999 we successfully demonstrated the PAC-3 missile’s ability to intercept its target. We will fly our next PAC-3 test in just a few weeks. When we achieve the second intercept of a target, we will be poised to begin Low Rate Initial Production for PAC-3 and field the system within the next two years.

Similarly, we conducted our THAAD flight test on March 29. While we did not intercept the target, we came very close to an intercept -- just a few meters away. We have analyzed the available data and are very encouraged that the THAAD interceptor was working properly and got into the critical "end-game."

We have determined that the most likely cause was a problem with one of the ten small divert, attitude control system motors on the interceptor. The THAAD interceptor uses four of the ten motors to control large horizontal movements, while the other six thrusters control attitude -- what is known as pitch, yaw and roll. The malfunctioning thruster was one of the six controlling the attitude of the kill vehicle.

Our review indicates that -- with the exception of the broken motor -- the interceptor was working properly and responding to all radar uplinks. It was maneuvering to the intercept point using either radar or seeker data, coming within 12 meters of the target. All other elements of the THAAD system performed as expected. So I am very encouraged that we have turned the corner on our past test experiences and are ready to start hitting the target. Hopefully, we will fly the THAAD interceptor again in a few weeks.

Now that we are beginning to see success on the test range, my focus is ensuring that we will be able to procure the quantities needed to counter the growing missile threat. Therefore, our systems must be affordable as well as effective.

I have already discussed what we are doing to make our systems affordable. One key way to ensure effectiveness is the ensure that our systems are "interoperable." Interoperability will drive us to develop and deploy a highly effective Family of Systems architecture designed to maximize the contributions of a mix of ground-, sea-, and air-based missile defenses. In so doing, we will deploy an architecture that allows us to defend critical assets efficiently by fielding and using missile defenses in an integrated manner.

This is a key point, since repeated studies and architecture analyses point to the overwhelming conclusion that a multi-tier, multi-platform architecture is required to address the full range of theater-class missile threats. Unlike other defense mission areas, we are developing and working to field several Major Defense Acquisition Programs or MDAPs at the same time because there is no comprehensive, effective missile defense in the field today. We are striving to deliver for the warfighter and the nation a capability that can adequately protect our interests overseas and defend our homeland.

Let me close by giving you a perspective from the "warfighter" that is driving our strong push to address both costs and interoperability.

Last fall, one of our warfighting CINCs – General John Tillelli – told Secretary Cohen that he needs missile defense systems as soon as possible to counter the roughly 600 North Korean theater ballistic missiles facing him today. All he has is the improved Patriot missile defense system. While it is better than the system we used in the Gulf War, we can and will field a better system -- indeed the Family of Systems -- in the next few years. The Family of Systems architecture will provide our warfighters a highly effective defense against the increasingly sophisticated missile threat.

Our bottom line must always be to procure more inventory and defensive protection for the warfighter within the budget allocated. Ensuring our systems are affordable and interoperable will help us do just that.

Mr. Chairman, that concludes my statement. I look forward to addressing your questions.