Chilton Wants Better Space-Based Missile Detection

Posted: September 14, 2010 in Uncategorized
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I wasn’t there to get the tone of voice or context of his presentation, but General Kevin Chilton is an upbeat and positive guy.  How much so?  At last year’s Air Force Association event in Beverly Hills (a good travel gig if you can get it), he dropped a reference to Weezer’s Beverly Hills as he was getting things started.

So when he protests the late-to-need Space Based Infrared System saying “It is past time to eliminate this critical gap in our strategic missile warning system,” it’s probably not like he’s beating on the podium with his shoe.  On the other hand, what options does the Air Force have to fill the critical gap?  At one point there was Alternative Infrared Space Systems (AIRSS)/Third Generation Infrared Surveillance (3GIRS), but now…crickets.

Besides FIA, the James Webb Space Telescope, and NPOESS, SBIRS is probably the fourth space-man of the apocalypse demonstrating the shortcomings of America’s space acquisition efforts in meeting performance, cost, and schedule goals.

So what can be done?  Let’s see: we need a space acquisition corps that’s steeped in space operations and also in supporting warfighting missions.  That’s hard to do in a 20-year military career.

We also need an industrial base with companies like SpaceX that can do much if not most or almost all the work in-house making them more responsive and likely to meet schedule.

We need service, DoD, and Congressional oversight that fully funds programs in the years they need funding instead of cutting off funding pieces here and there which inevitably leads to programs that are drug-in.

It’s all much easier said than done.

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