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Estimated Costs and Technical Characteristics of Selected National Missile Defense Systems

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Research paper

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This analysis is in response to a request by the Honorable Thomas A. Daschle, Majority Leader, United States Senate, to the Congressional Budget Office CBO. The analysis estimates the potential costs of several different types of national missile defense systems and components 1 the two-site, ground-based midcourse system planned by the Clinton Administration 2 a third ground-based site in addition to the two planned in that program 3 an additional ground-based X-band radar 4 a stand-alone, sea-based midcourse system 5 a ship-based X-band radar and 6 a constellation of space-based lasers. Note that the cost estimates CBO has prepared for individual systems should not be added together to yield an estimate of the total potential costs of national missile defense. For example, if the ground- and sea-based midcourse missile defense systems were part of a combined system, they could draw on some of the same research and development activities and share some of the same sensors, command and control facilities, and components. Mr. Daschle also requested estimates for a sea-based, boost-phase missile defense system. However, these systems are currently in the very early stages of conceptual development, and the Department of Defense has not yet provided a description of such a system that would be suitable for the purpose of estimating costs. Consequently, CBO was unable to prepare a credible estimate of the costs of sea-based, boost-phase defenses. Mr. Daschle also requested an estimate of the costs of the Brilliant Pebbles space-based interceptor missile defense system. The most recent complete technical description of that system dates from 1992. Little additional work has been done on it since Brilliant Pebbles was terminated early in the Clinton Administration. Consequently, CBO has no substantive basis for revising its 1996 estimate of the costs for Brilliant Pebbles, and that estimate may no longer be applicable.

Subject Categories:

  • Economics and Cost Analysis
  • Antimissile Defense Systems

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