The US Department of Defense (DoD) is being accused of moving too rapidly in its plan to advise US President Bill Clinton on whether to deploy the $13 billion national missile defence (NMD) system by 2005.

The Pentagon's top weapons tester says the schedule, which calls on US Secretary of State for Defense William Cohen to make a recommendation to the White House by June, imposes "unrealistic pressure" on those involved in the decision-making process.

"This is pushing the programme to be schedule rather than event driven. This pattern has resulted in a negative effect on virtually every development programme," says Philip Coyle, DoD director of operational testing and evaluation. "Undue pressure has been placed on the programme to meet an artificial decision point."

Source: Flight International