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Special News Briefing Following Missile Defense Flight Test

Presenters: Lt. Gen. Ronald T. Kadish, Director, BMDO
July 15, 2001 12:05 PM EDT

Sunday, July 15, 2001 - 12:05 a.m. EDT

(Special news briefing at the Pentagon following Integrated Flight Test 6. Also see the news release and briefing slide.)

Kadish: Good evening. I appreciate you sticking with us during this very complex test that we had.

I would like to be very brief because we have basic stuff to report, and that is that we had a lot of objectives to accomplish tonight with our test -- integration of different elements, those types of things. And the early indications we have, there's a lot more work to be done, but the early indications we have is that everything worked in what we call a nominal mode, which is what is expected.

However, these tests take many weeks to deduce the data. But we believe we have a successful test in all aspects at this time.

Now this is one in a series of many more tests that we need to accomplish. I've said before in this room that we've got a long road ahead in all the missile defense activities that we have tonight ahead of us. So I can take a few questions, but a kill intercept was confirmed by all our sensors.

Q: Do you know whether you met every objective that you set yet, including...

A: We do not know for certain that every objective was met. In all probability some of them were not. But the early indications are that we have performance in every one of the objectives of the tests that we set as outlined on the chart.

Q: Deployment of the decoy?

A: Deployment of the decoy, the target, was as expected.

Q: Why do you say that in all probability some of your objectives probably were not?

A: No test goes perfect.

Q: Can you talk a little about how complex the decoys and countermeasures regime will come over the next seven or eight tests compared to tonight?

A: We'll have some decisions to make, but a lot will depend on the analysis of the data that we undertake to determine whether these objectives are met. And if we increase our competence on the reliability of the hit to kill we probably will add some complexity.

Q: Will you know if you hit the sweet spot? And if you don't know at this point, how long until you get that data?

A: We hit pretty accurately. Based on the telemetry that was lost. However, we will have to know just how accurately through a lot of analysis, and that will take weeks.

Q: Was this by far the most rigorous and difficult test? Or was it slightly more realistic than the last one? How would you rate it?

A: This test is the same test we did the first time, that we tried the second time, and we tried the third time. So this is an idea that we want to replicate the difficulty so that we can get competence in the reliability of the hit to kill technology.

Q: Can you tell us how you're feeling this evening? Today?

A: Yesterday I said I was quietly confident about the success in the test, and today I feel quietly very good. However, I also know what the job ahead is, so even when we have these types of successes, we have a long road to go.

Q: When will you know the full details of the test?

A: We won't know the full details of the test for probably two months.

Q: Do you know whether the in-flight communication system worked as expected?

A: We got confirmation of in-flight communications throughout the test, based on the briefing I got prior to coming over here. But again, we have to go through all the tapes and all those sensors that I told you about yesterday in the tests we need to go through to make sure we confirmed each one of those ones and zeros got where they were supposed to go.

Q: Does this success have any impact on the scheduling or the nature of the next test you have lined up?

A: No. We will press on to the next test. This is one in a series of tests and we will continue to press to our objectives in the program.

Q: You said you hadn't decided yet what additional complexity might be in the IFT-7. What are some of the things you're considering?

A: We will consider more countermeasures possibly, but that is yet to be decided.

Q: Since this is the same test as the second and third test, does the year lapse, was that taken up in trying to figure out what exactly happened with the failures of the last two tests, and trying to correct those? Is that what this year was spent doing?

A: The way I would characterize this year, and at this point in time I'd like to congratulate General Bill Nance and his crew out at Kwajalein and the companies involved, especially the Boeing Company. Because they took a very a difficult situation over the past year and made it a lot better.

Basically we knew what was wrong with the last test within about a month and a half, based on our statistical and detailed analysis. But what we ended up doing was going back and revising and making our procedures as good as they can get, and we involved a lot of people in making that happen, and that just took time.

So we were very careful, not only for this test, but as I said, this is one in a series of tests and we need to plan for the future on these things. My goal in life at this point in time, as is General Nance and everybody else, is for you all not to be that interested in the test. Because no one test makes a difference in anything that we're doing here. It's a series and a buildup of data.

So this test is just one on a journey. One stop on a journey.

Q: General, were you able to talk to Secretary Rumsfeld tonight and brief him on the initial results yet?

A: I notified the chain of command and I'm sure he knows about it.

Q: Can you talk a little bit more about what improvements Boeing made in not only its management but its approach to integrating the simulation... All the parts that went together tonight, how had they improved over the last year?

A: I think the major changes that the company made as well as the program is that we insisted on testing on the ground what we were going to fly, and fly what we tested. That brings us to the next step away from prototype hardware into the type of hardware we want to use.

Q: Can you explain the delays in the launch?

A: Normal test delays. I don't know the details of the delays. I just watched the performance.

Q: If the subsequent tests are successful, will you consider dropping plans for the additional EKV [exoatmospheric kill vehicle] and booster? Or will you go forward with those no matter what?

A: Parallel paths in development for as long as they're warranted, in my view, will reduce the risk, and those decisions will have to be taken based on the performance of the program.

I know you've got stories to file, but again, my congratulations to the entire team, but this is one in a series of many more tests to come, and I'd be happy to talk to you about those in the future.

Q: Can I ask you one on Boeing? Isn't their current contract tied greatly to the awards and profits they make as successful intercepts, more than the last contract? And do they have a financial stake in hitting more than they did in the past?

A: That's correct, but all the people I know in Boeing, Lockheed, Raytheon, TRW, all the people involved in this have done a wonderful job and I think as people they are more concerned about their performance tonight than they are financial incentives.

Q: General, are you going to brief us more fully in the next several days or weeks?

A: We will address...