Request includes funds for basic capabilities as well as more advanced systems

The US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) has unveiled a 2005 spending plan that adds $900 million to a basic defensive capability and $600 million for more advanced systems, but defers the Boeing YAL-1 Airborne Laser (ABL) programme and slows purchases of Raytheon's Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) sea-based interceptor.

The overall $9.1 billion budget request submitted to the US Congress on 2 February continues a plan to field an initial capability to intercept primitive missile threats. The first few interceptors are expected to be deployed to Fort Greeley, Alaska by mid-year before the site becomes operational in the third quarter. This initial capability also includes a working Cobra Dane radar at Eareckson air station in the Aleutian Islands, an upgraded early warning radar (UEWR) at Beale AFB, California and an Aegis surveillance and tracking vessel equipped with the SPY-1 radar system.

A second UEWR will be activated at Fylingdales in the UK in fiscal year 2005, along with up to 10 additional SM-3 interceptors deployed on three Aegis-equipped cruisers and destroyers. The MDA had planned to deploy up to 20SM-3 missiles next year, but suffered an intercept test failure in June.

"We have reduced the number of SM-3 interceptors planned for delivery in Block 2004 because of a technical problem we are experiencing with the solid divert and attitude control system on the kill vehicle," says the MDA.

The availability of a "contingency capability" with the YAL-1 ABL, based on a Boeing 747 platform, is being indefinitely postponed. The MDA has established a series of milestone events before the Airborne Laser becomes operational, including the completion of ground testing on combined laser, battle management and beam-control/fire-control segments. The platform must also demonstrate a lethal strike on a ballistic missile in boost phase and complete flight testing of an expanded performance envelope.

Also in 2005, the MDA plans to expand the scope of its foreign partnerships despite a proposed $68 million funding cut for international co-operation programmes, focusing on the Kinetic Energy Interceptor.

"In fiscal year 2005 we intend to award a contract for an international industry development programme that produces viable alternate components for potential insertion during Block 12 [the period from January 2012 to December 2013] and succeeding Blocks," say MDA budget documents.

Source: Flight International