HEADLINE: HEARING OF THE SENATE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE
SUBJECT: MISSILE DEFENSE AND THE FY2005 DOD BUDGET
CHAIRED BY: SENATOR JOHN WARNER (R-VA)
LOCATION: 325 RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE BUILDING, WASHINGTON, D.C.
WITNESSES: MICHAEL WYNNE, ACTING UNDER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR ACQUISITION, TECHNOLOGY AND LOGISTICS; ADMIRAL JAMES O. ELLIS, JR., USN, COMMANDER, U.S. STRATEGIC COMMAND; THOMAS P. CHRISTIE, DIRECTOR, OPERATIONAL TEST AND EVALUATION; LIEUTENANT GENERAL RONALD T. KADISH, USAF, DIRECTOR, MISSILE DEFENSE AGENCY; LIEUTENANT GENERAL LARRY J. DODGEN, USA, COMMANDER, SPACE AND MISSILE DEFENSE COMMAND
SEN. JAMES INHOFE (R-OK): (Note: Senator Inhofe's remarks are off-mike.) Thank you, Mr. Chairman. As I listened to General Kadish in your opening remarks, you used the-and I'm reading out of your statement now-"He directed," that's the president, "directed that we field what we have and improve what we have fielded." Those are my sentiments exactly. And I sensed an urgency in that statement, that he's recognizing that this is something that you need to get up there -- (inaudible) -- and I strongly agree with him.
I appreciate very much Senator Lieberman and his activity in being -- (inaudible) -- that we are going to ultimately have a system that is going to defend our American cities, and I applaud him for that. However, when you talk about the relative threats between -- (inaudible) -- and terror, I have a hard time with that, because the ultimate weapon of a terrorist would be a missile with a warhead -- (inaudible) -- kill a lot of people.
And I think back-and I can remember, General Kadish, you were actually before this committee-this was back in 1998 -- when we had asked the question, "How long will it be until this threat is imminent in the United States? How long will it be specifically?" And I remember asking the question on August 24th of -- (inaudible) -- the North Koreans have a multiple-stage rocket that can reach the United States. Your response-and I have it written down exactly-but it was somewhere in the range of five to 10 years. Seven days later, on August 31st of 1998, they launched one.
Now, that threat is out there. We know it's there. We know that these are not stable people. So I just would hope that we will all realize that if you look with me back at the day -- (inaudible) -- if you make the wrong decision and the wrong timeline, it might cost -- (inaudible) -- it could be 200- or 300,000 or a million lives.
So I believe that sense of urgency that the president has charged you with is one that you are responding to in a very forceful way.
Now, as I look at the-we're talking about two things. First, we have to detect, then we have to kill it. And so there's kind of two projects that we have going at the same time. You change the names on me all the time, so I can't keep up with them, but I remember the SBIRS system seemed to be the one where ultimately you're up there and you're looking down, as opposed to -- (inaudible) -- system, where you're down looking up, and it should have the capability of detecting and processing information from a launch anywhere in the world.
Now, ultimately that's where we want to be. We transitioned from that into this RAMOS system, which I think is the same thing, in partnership with the Russians, and that has now been terminated. My first question would be, with that termination, what will that do to the-will that affect the time line of ultimately having this system, whether we call it a SBIRS or a RAMOS system of detection?
GEN. KADISH: The short answer is no, Senator. We changed the name to space tracking and surveillance system to have no confusion between what we used to call SBIRS Low and SBIRS High, which is still two different programs. But the RAMOS program, although it would explore some of the technology we could use for the STSS or SBIRS component, was not critical to the performance of that program.
SEN. INHOFE: I see. I just have been told my microphone was not on, but you obviously did hear the questions and the comments, hopefully.
Now, I understand that the Missile Defense Agency has had great success in using the air system of detection, which is down here looking up, and is something that would be-I've always thought in my mind that's kind of an interim system of detection until we have the system that we've been discussing. Is that accurate?
GEN. KADISH: That's true, although today we use the defense support program for the initial detection. And that's already on orbit and uses the same technology. So we're planning and working very hard to continue to put infrared capability on orbit through the STSS. And we're currently on schedule to put up our first two proof- of-principle satellites in Fiscal Year '07.
SEN. INHOFE: Okay, the budget, the '05 budget estimate, states that once the tests and evaluations are complete, then the management and security of the sites will be transferred to the individual services. In this day and age of jointness and all that, have you thought about whether that is more efficient and effective than if you were to do it in one place under one control or one joint control?
GEN. KADISH: Senator, that's a very good question. And Admiral Ellis and General Dodgen and I and others are working to see whether or not our original understanding of that process is right or whether we need to change it. It's certainly-I don't know if I overstate this, but I don't think I do-this effort that we're doing at Fort Greeley and the other initial IDC configuration is truly, truly a joint development and fielding activity, more than I've ever been associated with in my acquisition career.
So we're kind of investing new processes here, if I could say that. I don't know --
SEN. INHOFE: It's something to think about as we move along. Now, going from the detection to the kill part, the airborne laser weapon system, which consists of a laser mounted on a modified 747, would be the-what is the current time line for the fielding of the airborne laser system? I've been interested in time lines, because-to meet this concern of urgency that I believe is there.
GEN. KADISH: Well, we've run into some integration problems on the airborne lasers. It's extremely complex technology, revolutionary, even more so than hit-to-kill was a few years ago, I believe. So I'm not able to at this time give you what I would call a high-confidence answer to that question in terms of time. We got about the last 20 percent of the first airplane to prove our principles on whether that laser combination with the airplane is going to work correctly.
Once we get our next two milestones, which is laser light out of the ground-based system test laboratory and the flying activity of our lenses, I can give you a better estimate. But it will be no earlier than 2005 or probably a little later than that-no earlier than.
SEN. INHOFE: I know my time has expired. And I do have some other timeline questions; I'm going to ask for a response on the record. And I thank you very much, all five of you, for the great service you're performing.