Military Aerospace Technology Today is: Oct 10, 2007
Volume: 6  Issue: 1
Published: Feb 21, 2007

Download Who's Who in DISA 2007

Download 2007 VETS GWAC Catalog

Download DISA 2007 Contracts Guide

Download PEO-EIS 2007 Catalog

Military Aerospace Technology Online Archives

This article was Originally Published on Dec 06, 2003 in Volume: 2  Issue: 5

View from the Senate

Senator Jeff Sessions on National Missile Defense. Funding and technology achievements go hand in hand.

Interviewed by Jeffrey McKaughan

Print this Article
Send a Letter to the Editor

Q: Good afternoon Senator Sessions. It's a pleasure to share some time with you and get your thoughts on missile defense. You've been a big supporter of missile defense to date. Do you believe that the spiral development process is best suited for the national missile defense programs and do you think that adequate progress is being made along that path?

A: I truly do. I believe the spiral development process has worked, and it is the kind of philosophy we ought to use in these innovative new technical programs. It is crazy for legislators to sit here in advance and dictate precisely how the missile defense architecture should be configured. It is assured that in the course of the development of a new system, our engineers and scientists will solve the vexing problems and learn what should be done one way or another. They need to have flexibility as they go forward. I like that philosophy, and I think we are on track and actually doing an excellent job as we move toward the September 30, 2004 operational date for Fort Greeley, AK.

There's a clock at the PEO, Ground Based Interceptor office in Huntsville, AL, that is clicking off the days and hours until September 30, and we are on track to meet that goal.

The bottom line is that I think spiral development has proven itself as a developmental concept. Moreover, I believe there are and will be other types of technologies that ought to integrate spiral development into program design and execution.

Q: As far as the anticipated threat arena, are you pretty much in agreement that the focus should go on the capabilities of North Korea, the Middle East and some of the former Soviet states that still have some of their missile capabilities? 

A: Well, there is no doubt that North Korea has risen to the fore. This situation highlights the wisdom of starting on a national missile defense program a number of years ago. The Rumsfeld Report that was issued in the late 1990s warned that this would happen, and it's been proven accurate. North Korea is definitely a threat.

Iran will at some point have the capability of reaching Europe. China is making international news with their missile capability and space launch capability. Russia also retains the capabilities, and they could help others develop the necessary technologies. So I think the threats are very real, and the president does not need to be helpless in reacting to the threat of a rogue state or an incoming missile.

Q: So, spiral development is the right philosophy for MDA to use in guiding their research and development. On the organization side, do you think that the MDA is structured and funded properly to support the kind of work they are being asked to do?

A: I think so. I've always been a big supporter of MDA's funding. Congress has taken a number of runs at cutting MDA's funding, but supporters have been successful each time in holding to the administration's requested level, which I think is about $7.7 billion this year. That seems to be an adequate number, but if MDA needed more, I think Congress would be receptive to discussing that need and taking constructive action. General Kadish is managing his various programs very well, and presently we're not hearing a request for more funding.

General Kadish has achieved an extremely high level of respect and confidence on Capitol Hill. There've been times when he's been pounded with tough questions about his predictions for the future, and he's been careful and honest and direct. Time after time, he has met those goals and those predictions. Without his kind of stable leadership, I don't think our missile defense program or its emerging architecture would be where it is today. We are definitely on the right track.

Q: Would you be in a position to talk about some of the major technology accomplishments that have been achieved by the MDA so far?

A: I would note a couple of things. The most dramatic breakthrough has been to prove that hit-to-kill technology works. Over the years we've had a lot of anti-missile scientists and critics that just dismissed our missile defense program and its technologies as a viable system, but it's been proven now. We've had four successful tests recently, and I think that is a huge step forward.

Of course MDA has done a lot of other things. For example, they have established 20,000 miles of fiber optic cable. They are developing the world's largest off-shore X-Band radar. Those are some of the things that come to mind and, of course, the interconnectivity of the whole system is just a wonder.

Q: There was recently a contract awarded for the High Altitude Airship (HAA) to take that program through the design and risk reduction phase of development. Do you consider the HAA significant to the overall plan?

A: I do consider the HAA to be significant. The High Altitude Airship, similar to the JLENS program in some respects, is a concept that should prove to be valuable, although I don't know if I would say that it will become a "cornerstone" of the MDA program. Its capabilities will have to be proven as we go along. It would be great if this could achieve some of the goals that have been stated.

Q: Are you comfortable with the full range of defensive systems that we're working on from boost-phase kills down to tactical threats, such as the Scud? Will a fully mature NMD program address the full range of technologies as we envision them now?

A: Yes, I think we are protected on the lower end of attack from Scud-type systems. Operation Iraqi Freedom proved our capabilities. Much of this is a direct result of the president's rejection of the ABM treaty, which finally allowed us to utilize an ABM strategy throughout the architecture allowing our nation to develop a comprehensive system with multiple capabilities.

For example, we recently saw the success of the PAC 3s in Iraq. They were successful every single time - that is hit-to-kill technology at its best. Our systems have really come a long way; I mean, when you see the capabilities emerging from PAC 3s then you know that we can do it on a larger scale. 

Q: What are your thoughts on the current strategy relating to the ABM treaty?

A: I like the fact that the president said we were unilaterally getting out of the treaty - my feeling is he was suggesting that America was not going to try dance through hoops to be treaty compliant. We got out of the treaty because it prevented the building of a comprehensive national missile defense system. The Congress voted to build a national missile defense, and the president wanted to build one as well. We needed to build a system based on good science and good technology and not with having to deal with the cost and complexities of trying to keep an out of date treaty alive. We have had no problems with the Russians since we got out of that treaty, and it has helped us configure a defensive system the right way, so I think that was a big event.

To Top

Home | Archives | Events | Contact | Advertisers | Subscribe

Defense Consulting & Outsourcing  Military Advanced Education  Military Geospatial Technology  Military Information Technology  Military Logistics Forum  Military Medical Technology  Military Training Technology  Special Operations Technology

Web site by Foster Web Marketing

© 2007 Kerrigan Media International, Inc. All rights reserved. Kerrigan Media International, Inc. ("we," "us") provides publications, information, content, text and graphic material, and other products and services (all and/or any portion of which, are individually and collectively referred to as "KMI Publications"). KMI Publications also refers to web sites, production, processing and communications facilities whether owned, operated or provided by us ourselves or in conjunction with others pursuant to contractual arrangements. KMI Publications are for informational purposes only and your access, use, subscription to or display of any KMI Publications is subject to applicable U.S. law and regulation, as well as certain international treaties. You may access and use KMI Publications and download and print or create only one copy of content or the information in KMI Publications, solely for your own personal use. You may not republish, upload, post, transmit or distribute materials from any KMI Publications, without our prior written permission. Modification of or useof any KMI Publications for any other purpose is a violation of our copyright and other proprietary rights, and is strictly prohibited. All trademarks, service marks, and logos used on or in KMI Publications are either ours or are used with permission.