Lockheed Martin has designed a system that could theoretically protect a major stretch of coastline from sea-based terrorists firing ballistic or low-flying cruise missiles. The project’s feasibility will, however, remain a mystery for another year after a $20 million funding plan was cut in half.

Lockheed says it has spent around $18 million to develop the operational view one system architecture. The US House of Representatives had provided $20 million in a draft version of the fiscal year 2006 defence budget to fund a live fire test using the system, but the Senate removed all money for the programme. The lawmakers have now agreed on a compromise that reduces the requested total by $10 million, says Dave Kier, Lockheed’s vice-president and managing director for missile defence programmes.

This money will be used by the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) to conduct further studies and simulations.

Lockheed envisages using mostly existing MDA interceptors and radars to defend against ballistic missiles, and a network of television antennas to warn against cruise missile attack, says Kier.

Source: Flight International