A Raytheon-made, air-launched interceptor missile has survived a round of proposed budget cuts, but at levels that stop far short of making a full commitment.
The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) has proposed spending $3.5 million on the network-centric air defence element (NCADE) in Fiscal 2010, Michael Booen, Raytheon's vice president of directed energy weapons told FlightGlobal.com.
Booen called the amount a "placeholder". The MDA has kept the NCADE alive as it considers a new architecture for intercepting missiles in the ascent phase, which spans from launch to the early part of an exoatmospheric trajectory, Booen said.
The real test of the NCADE's budget survival could come in next year's budget request. Meanwhile, Raytheon will pursue support for Congress to add extra funding to MDA's Fiscal 2010 budget request, Booen said.
Raytheon has estimated that a four-year plan to develop and deliver 20 NCADE missiles will cost about $400 million.
The NCADE missile borrows the airframe of the AIM-120D and adapts a seeker from the AIM-9X. Aerojet also is supplying a second-stage rocket motor.
The combined system is intended to strike ballistic missiles during the ascent phase.
"You can preposition NCADE into the bunkers in Kunsan or Osan or whereever you want to be and you can fly them on rails of jets that are going to be on combat air patrols anyway," Booen said.
Raytheon sees the NCADE as a complementary system in an ascent phase architecture to a land- or sea-based SM-3 missile, Booen said.