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This article was Originally Published on Oct 20, 2005 in Volume: 4  Issue: 3

Missile Guidance

MDA director of mission readiness lays out principles for successful program development.

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The operating principles that have guided the Navy’s Aegis ballistic missile defense program will be beneficial to the broader program of national missile defense, according to Rear Admiral Kathleen Paige, director of mission readiness and program director for Aegis ballistic missile defense for the Missile Defense Agency (MDA).

In addition to directing the Aegis program, Paige earlier this year was assigned duties as the MDA’s director, mission readiness, where she is responsible for ensuring that the agency provides military and civilian leaders with a system that is ready to conduct its ballistic missile defense mission when called upon.

In an interview with Military Aerospace Technology, Paige laid out the following practices as fundamental to program development:

* “Treat weapon systems engineering as the quest for practical solutions to real world warfighting problems. Use “cornerstones,” which are a small handful of quantifiable, key performance parameters, to unify the system design and to guide trades; and never forget that the system in the field will reflect the organization that produced it. This means that the mission, system design, organization and programmatics must be aligned and effective, with clear lines of accountability and responsibility, if the resulting system is to be the same.”

* “Incorporate methodical “checks and balances” mechanisms throughout the development, test, in-service support, maintenance and modernization of the weapon system, using institutions whose responsibility is to maintain expertise, corporate knowledge and objectivity in their designated roles.”

* “Ensure a thorough understanding of the system configuration and its performance prior to flight testing and transition to in-service status, based on high-fidelity models and simulations, component ground tests, end-to-end ground tests, and strict configuration control throughout.”

* “Practice cohesive, consistent design, manufacturing and flight readiness review processes, from bottom to top. These should be led by a senior expert dedicated to the role from outside the program development chain of command.”

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