The Insider

By John Liang
April 28, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Wannabe Air Force pilots covet a "wings" badge. Now, Air Force hackers have their own badge to proudly sport on their uniforms.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz has approved a new badge that officers working in the cyberspace domain can wear, according to the service. In an April 21 memorandum, Schwartz "set forth guidelines and addressed standard eligibility requirements for officers working in the cyberspace domain," the statement reads. "Eligibility criteria for enlisted personnel are slated for release in a future message." Further:

Maj. Gen. Michael Basla, Air Force Space Command vice commander, who will wear the new badge, highlighted its significance. “The Air Force mission -- to fly, fight and win/ /in air, space and cyberspace -- acknowledges the significance and interrelationship of our three operational domains in effective warfighting. The establishment of the Air Force Cyberspace Badge underscores the crucial operational nature of the cyberspace mission,” said General Basla.

The Air Force’s Chief of Warfighting Integration and Chief Information Officer said the new badge reflects the importance of cyber operations. "The Air Force's cyberspace operators must focus on operational rigor and mission assurance in order to effectively establish, control, and leverage cyberspace capabilities. The new cyberspace operator badge identifies our cyberspace professionals with the requisite education, training, and experience to operate in this new critical domain. The badge symbolizes this new operational mindset and the Air Force's commitment to operationalize the cyberspace domain," said Lt Gen William T. Lord.

The new badge is authorized in three levels: basic, senior and master. Badge level eligibility criteria are consistent with those listed in Air Force Instruction 36-2903. The guidance for the Cyberspace Badge will be included in the next revision of the AFI. Certain officers are “grandfathered” and eligible to wear the new badge. Officers converting from the 33S to the 17D Air Force Specialty Code on April 30 are authorized the basic Cyberspace Badge. Officers may continue to wear the Communications and Information Badge at the authorized level until Oct. 1, 2011. Upon completing the Distance Learning Cyberspace Operations Transition Course (the “X- course”), Undergraduate Network Warfare Training, or meeting criteria for upgrade, officers who earned the senior or master level Communications and Information Badge are authorized to wear that same level of the Cyberspace Badge.

. . . The design element of the badge holds significant meaning. The lightning bolt wings signify the cyberspace domain while the globe signifies the projection of cyber power world-wide. The globe, combined with lightning bolt wings, signifies the Air Force’s common communications heritage. The bolted wings, centered on the globe, are a design element from the Air Force Seal signifying the striking power through air, space and cyberspace. The orbits signify the space dimension of the cyberspace domain.

The new badge is equal in precedence to the Aeronautical and Space Badges. Those awarded multiples of the Cyberspace, Aeronautical and Space Badges must wear the Cyberspace Badge above the others while serving in a cyberspace billet.

By John Liang
April 27, 2010 at 5:00 AM

The Defense Department has commissioned an independent study to analyze the impacts on military radar from a proposed large wind farm in Oregon -- this after initial military concerns prompted the Federal Aviation Administration to label the project a possible hazard to air navigation, signaling possibly significant roadblocks to this and potentially other nearby projects, Defense Environment Alert reports today:

At issue is the Shepherds Flat wind farm project slated to be built by Caithness Energy in Arlington, OR. In March, the FAA issued a notice of presumed hazard regarding the project -- due to DOD concerns -- triggering a formal evaluation of the project’s potential impacts and allowing for discussions with the project’s backer to determine if mitigation of the impacts can be adopted, according to an FAA spokeswoman. The wind facility, if constructed, would be the largest such facility in Oregon, according to Caithness’ Web site.

DOD has now also launched an independent study to be led by MIT Lincoln Laboratory to assess the security threats posed by the wind farm and to identify mitigation options, an Air Force spokesman says in an e-mail response to questions.

The Pentagon’s objections have caused a stir within the Obama administration, given its interest in developing sources of alternative energy, according to an April 15 Washington Post article chronicling the debate between DOD’s security concerns and clean energy interests.

According to the FAA’s presumed hazard finding, DOD is concerned about the cumulative effects of about 1,800 turbines proposed or existing within the Air Force’s radar line-of-sight in Fossil, OR. DOD fears the cumulative impact of the wind turbines will reduce the sensitivity of the military’s radar, the FAA notice says.

“This loss of coverage over the entire volume of the radar will seriously impair the ability of the DOD to detect, monitor, and safely conduct air operations in this region, and therefore poses an unacceptable risk to DOD’s mission.” No overlapping radar exists in the area to compensate for this, it says.

“To mitigate this impact, the DOD recommends moving the proposed turbines outside of the radar line-of-sight,” it says.

The Air Force spokesman says a report from the independent study will be submitted to the administration as soon as possible but no later than 60 days after April 16. The study will include advice from experts on the impacts of renewable energy facilities on radar “and will bring technically competent, independent analysis to bear to inform our consideration of next steps for the Shepherds Flat wind farm,” the spokesman says.

Further, the Air Force says it has reached out to Caithness, the wind farm developer, and GE, the wind turbine manufacturer, to discuss ways to mitigate wind turbines’ potential risks to military radar. A request to Caithness to comment on the issue went unanswered. . . .

The FAA’s potential interference determination has triggered Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) to indicate he will place a hold on Sharon Burke’s nomination to become DOD’s operational energy director nominee, according to the Post article. Wyden’s staff did not respond by press time to questions on the issue.

In a recent posting on the North American Aerospace Defense Command’s (NORAD) blog, Air Force Gen. Gene Renuart, commander of both NORAD and U.S. Northern Command, makes note of recent talk in the public arena over the military’s involvement in wind energy development, and its role in determining if new developments interfere with flight safety or radar operations. He stresses the military’s full backing of alternative energy development, noting that the development of such energy and the maintaining of national defense are not mutually exclusive.” Make no mistake about it, NORAD and U.S. Northern Command are dedicated to both homeland defense and clean energy,” he writes.

By Sebastian Sprenger
April 27, 2010 at 5:00 AM

The Congressional Research Service this month penned a new assessment of the Defense Department's newest combatant command, U.S. Africa Command. The report includes a neat overview of what countries on the continent have signed up to provide the Pentagon with access to so-called "cooperative security locations." According to the document, they are: Algeria, Botswana, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Namibia, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone, Tunisia, Uganda, and Zambia.

U.S. military officials generally pursue a low profile on the continent. They have continued to stress the command's emphasis on diplomacy and aid. But officials are also aware of the continent's vastness, which could make it difficult to stage forces if a conflict were to break out that required American intervention.

The CSLs, plus AFRICOM's Adaptive Logistics Network, are supposed to guarantee that the Pentagon has access to critical transportation nodes during crises.

By John Liang
April 27, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA), chairwoman of the House Armed Services terrorism, unconventional threats and capabilities subcommittee, is helming a hearing today on the need for more rotorcraft for U.S. special operations forces in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"This hearing represents a 'good news, bad news' story," Sanchez said in her opening statement. "The good news is that the committee, the (Defense) Department, and (special Operations Command) all recognize that rotary-wing shortfalls are a critical issue for our Special Operations Forces. The bad news is that much work remains to be done, and the proposed solutions may take years to implement." Moreover, the congresswoman added:

Currently, our Special Operations Forces operate in more than 75 countries each and every day - countering terrorism, building partnership capacity in key areas, and improving security and stability for key partner nations. Often working in remote locations with limited infrastructure and reinforcements, air assets provide a vital operational link to ensure mission success for SOF.

Rotary-wing assets in particular are key enablers for our special operators, and critical for counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere. These helicopters and tilt-wing aircraft provide fire-support, surveillance, insertion/extraction, and other combat support functions. Most critically, they serve as a logistical backbone for SOF and other forces, moving critical supplies over rugged terrain to remote locations in minimal time.

My top priority as chairwoman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Terrorism, Unconventional Threats, and Capabilities is to provide all the necessary resources to our military in order to protect our country from terrorist threats. And this includes rotary-wing assets which are high demand, low density resources.

It is important to note that U.S. Special Operations Command cannot buy aircraft but is only authorized to pay for SOF-unique equipment for aircraft. This means that SOCOM must coordinate very closely with the Services. I look forward to discussing this process with each of the witnesses, and hearing how the Services’ larger acquisition programs align with and support SOCOM priorities.

By Christopher J. Castelli
April 27, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Iran is not pursuing military activities in Venezuela, U.S. Southern Command chief Gen. Douglas Fraser said today. Tehran's activities there are diplomatic and commercial in nature, he told reporters at a breakfast in Washington.

A recent Pentagon report on Iran's military power says Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps - Qods Force (IRGC-QF) has in recent years increased its presence in Latin America, particularly Venezuela. The report says the Qods Force stations operatives in foreign embassies, charities and religious/cultural institutions to foster relationships with people, often building on existing socioeconomic ties with the well established Shia Diaspora. The report also notes the elite force engages in paramilitary operations to support extremists and destabilize unfriendly regimes.

But Fraser said he has seen no evidence of any Iranian military presence in Venezuela. And he said he was not contradicting the Pentagon report.

"I don't see it as a contradiction," he said. "I see an increasing presence of Iran in Latin America. Now, specifically what that means and what elements of that there are -- I don't have all the details of what that means."

For the time being, Fraser said, he sees no need to adjust SOUTHCOM's posture based on the Iranian presence, though he noted the command will continue to watch the issue.

By Debbie Siegelbaum
April 26, 2010 at 5:00 AM

The Army’s Integrated Battle Command System is ready to enter the design phase, after contractor Northrop Grumman announced the successful completion of an Interim Design Review for the program.

In an April 26 press release, Northrop said the three-day review, concluded on March 25, was the first in a series of events leading up to the Army's Delta-Preliminary Design Review slated for later this year.

According to the release, the IBCS program -- which uses an open-architecture and can be tailored for different missions using a battle command system for air and missile defense -- will utilize an integrated fire control network, significantly enhancing joint Integrated Air and Missile Defense operations.

The Army awarded Northrop a $577 million, five-year design and development contract in December 2009 to develop IBCS.

By Marcus Weisgerber
April 26, 2010 at 5:00 AM

The Pentagon notified Congress last week that it intends to sell 10 Boeing C-17 Globemaster III cargo haulers to India. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified lawmakers of the much-anticipated $5.8 billion sale on April 23.

Also included in the sale are five spare engines, 10 AN/ALE-47 counter-measures dispensing systems, 10 AN/AAR-47 missile warning systems and other spare parts and equipment, according to an April 26 DSCA notice.

Pentagon officials believe the new C-17s will increase India's ability to mobilize troops and equipment within the country and will “enable India to provide significantly increased humanitarian assistance and disaster relief support within the region,” according to the notice.

“This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to strengthen the U.S.-India strategic relationship and to improve the security of an important partner which continues to be an important force for political stability, peace, and economic progress in South Asia,” the notice states. “India will likely use these aircraft to replace its aging aircraft and associated supply chain with new and highly reliable aircraft.”

The aircraft potential C-17 sales come at a time when the no additional Air Force purchases are expected.

By Tony Bertuca
April 26, 2010 at 5:00 AM

The Army last week released the draft purchase description for the Joint Light Tactical Family of Vehicles as a precursor to an industry day being held today (April 26) in Sterling Heights, MI.

While many of the JLTV's specifications have only been released to industry and those on a “need to know” basis, the PD does include a few nuggets of useful information.

The document describes four different JLTV categories:

a. Payload Category A (JLTV-A): The JLTV-A will serve Battlespace Awareness (BA) mission roles.

b. Payload Category B (JLTV-B): The JLTV-B will serve Force Application (FA) mission roles by providing protected, sustained and networked tactical ground mobility for mounted infantry/combat arms forces.

c. Payload Category C (JLTV-C): The JLTV-C will serve Focused Logistics (FL) mission roles by providing transport of wounded personnel, general cargo, ammunition and shelters.

d. Companion Trailers (JLTV-T): The companion trailers will provide addition payload carrying capacity commensurate with the specific Payload Category vehicles.

It also features a statement about Australia's participation in the program:

Although Australia is yet to make a formal commitment with regard to joining the US JLTV Program for the EMD Phase, the JLTV Program is seeking industry comment and feedback on a number of requirements that Australia has proposed for inclusion in the JLTV EMD PD. In particular, the Program is seeking industry comment on whether these Australian proposed requirements are design and/or cost drivers. The level of effort required to comply with these Australian proposed requirements is also sought. Industry feedback will be used by the Program in order to determine whether these Australian proposed requirements can be incorporated at no/minimal impact to the Program or if of significant impact, not incorporated at all.

And if you get way down in the weeds, you find stuff like this:

The cab of the vehicle shall be equipped with rugged, cup holders for the driver and co-driver that are capable of holding containers in the range of a standard 12 ounce aluminum soda pop can to a 24 ounce plastic soda pop bottle.

But don't worry:

The cup holders shall not interfere with combat operations.

By John Liang
April 23, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Senate Armed Services Committee Ranking Member John McCain (R-AZ) yesterday had an interesting give-and-take with Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Ellen Tauscher during a committee hearing on the Nuclear Posture Review. In his opening statement, McCain expressed concern regarding the Obama administration's "change to our nation's long-standing nuclear declaratory policy of calculated ambiguity, which has been embraced by past administrations on a bipartisan basis. This declaratory policy has successfully and effectively deterred aggressors by preserving the use of all options in response to an attack on the United States or our allies."

When he asked Tauscher about it later, the following interchange ensued:

McCAIN: Secretary Tauscher, why did the decision made concerning the elimination of the nuclear option in cases of nations that are in compliance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty -- what was the rationale behind that reversal of what has been a national policy of deliberate ambiguity since the Cold War began?

TAUSCHER: Senator McCain, I don't think it's a reversal. I think what it is, is an articulation of the reality of the 21st century. What we have --

MCCAIN: Excuse me. It's not a reversal of the previous policy of ambiguity concerning what the United States action would be in case of attacks on the United States and our allies?

TAUSCHER: With all due respect, Senator, I don't know how you reverse ambiguity. Ambiguity is what it is; it means that you were not --

MCCAIN: Oh, no. Ambiguity was clearly a policy, Madame Secretary. It was clearly a policy so that our enemies would not be clear as to what actions we would take in case of attacks. That --

TAUSCHER: Senator, you're making my point.

MCCAIN: That is a policy, Secretary Tauscher. And if you allege that it's not, then we might as well move onto the next question.

TAUSCHER: Senator, you're making my point for me.

MCCAIN: Pardon me?

TAUSCHER: You're making my point for me. We were not clear. We were not clear to countries that we would never use nuclear weapons against --

MCCAIN: . . . and now we are clear.

TAUSCHER: -- that we would not use nuclear weapons against them. That's what this policy says. This policy says that for non- nuclear weapons states that are in compliance with their Non- Proliferation Treaty obligations, they are not going to be -- we're not going to either threaten or use nuclear weapons against them.

MCCAIN: And that's not a change in our policy?

TAUSCHER: It is an articulation of our policy. It is -- it is moving our policy to a more clear point of view. It's more clear than ambiguity. Yes, that's right.

Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy James Miller tried to explain it further -- which McCain welcomed, calling Tauscher's remarks "one of the more bizarre statements I've ever heard made before this committee."

MILLER: Senator McCain, the United States first made a negative security assurance associated with the NPT in 1978. It was by secretary of State Cyrus Vance. That statement said that the United States would not use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapons states that were party to the NPT. Same pledge was made in 1995 and again in 2002 by subsequent administrations.

So the -- this negative security assurance is not new. What the change is, in the Nuclear Posture Review, is that we've added the condition that a state must also be compliant with its nuclear nonproliferation obligations. So we've added a condition: In order to get into that -- into that -- into that group, that is, provide an assurance the United States will not use nuclear weapons, we've added a condition. Under the old assurance, the -- Iran, to date, would be provided that assurance. Under the new assurance, it is not.

So the other part of the -- I think you had referred to it as calculated ambiguity -- at various points in time in the past, United States has hinted that nuclear weapons might be used in response to chemical or biological weapons, even if by a non-nuclear weapons state.

Our view was that the credibility and capability of our -- of our deterrence posture is the determinative factor in that both with respect to non-nuclear weapons states and nuclear weapons states or not noncompliant states, that a clear posture that makes -- that distinguishes between those two was likely to be more effective for deterrence.

MCCAIN: I guess that's in the eye of the beholder, Dr. Miller.

For more on the hearing, click here.

By John Liang
April 23, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Following its decision to submit a solo bid for the Air Force's $35 billion next-generation tanker competition, EADS North America today announced it has added recently retired Air Force Gen. Arthur Lichte to the firm's board of directors. Lichte retired on Jan. 1, following a stint as head of the service's Air Mobility Command.

"General Lichte's leadership experience in command positions at squadron, group and wing levels -- as well as commander of the Air Mobility Command -- will provide valuable perspectives as our company brings its proven, mission-ready solutions to America's warfighters," EADS North America Chairman Ralph Crosby said in a statement.

According to a bio of Lichte's service in the EADS statement:

He previously served as Assistant Vice Chief of Staff and Director, Air Force Staff, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C., with responsibility for Air Staff organization and administration. Lichte also was the Deputy Chairman of the Air Force Council, and was the Air Force accreditation official for the Corps of Air Attachés. In addition, his experience included assignments at the Strategic Air Command, Air Mobility Command, U.S. Transportation Command, and United States Air Forces in Europe.

As a command pilot he logged more than 5,000 flying hours in various aircraft, including the C-5, C-17, C-20, C-21, C-32, C-37, C-130, EC/RC-121, KC-10, KC-135, VC-25, VC-137 and UH-1N.

Last September, Lichte said at a conference that his service faced a gap of at least 46 aerial refuelers, as Inside the Air Force reported at the time:

Right now, the Air Force flies a mix of 474 KC-135 and KC-10 tankers, according to a chart presented by Air Mobility Command chief Gen. Arthur Lichte during a Sept. 16 presentation at an Air Force Association-sponsored conference.

“We know with a requirement of 520 to 640 that we are already seeing a gap,” Lichte said. “We only have 474 tankers, so there’s already this gap that we have out there.”

At the same time, it will cost the Air Force up to $6 billion per year late in the next decade to maintain its aging fleet of KC-135 tankers, according to Lichte. The expected cost is double a previous estimate done in 2001 and first reported by Inside the Air Force in March.

“I’d rather pay good money and have new airplanes . . . flying rather than all this money for airplanes sitting on the ground in maintenance status,” Lichte said during a Sept 15 briefing with reporters. “As we delay, it’ll take longer to replace that entire KC-135 fleet.”

The previous KC-135 cost study was conducted before a major boom in tanker missions following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Since then, tanker sorties have increased dramatically to support combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, in addition to refueling fighter jets that constantly patrol the skies over the United States as part of Operation Noble Eagle.

By Christopher J. Castelli
April 22, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Next week the full House will bring to the floor and vote on a new defense acquisition reform bill, the IMPROVES Acquisition Act of 2010, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said today. The House Armed Services Committee yesterday approved the legislation by a unanimous, bipartisan vote. Here is Hoyer's full statement on the bill:

This Democratic Congress has consistently made fiscal responsibility a top priority, by restoring statutory PAYGO and working with the President on a bipartisan fiscal commission to reduce the deficit. Next week we will continue our effort to return our nation to fiscal balance by bringing the IMPROVES Acquisition Act of 2010 to the House Floor for a vote. This legislation will save taxpayers billions of dollars on defense acquisition spending while ensuring that our troops have the equipment they need to stay safe and get the job done. It builds on what we started when we enacted the Weapon System Acquisition Reform Act last year, by putting forward reforms for other areas that weren’t impacted by that law. I want to thank Chairman Skelton, Ranking Member McKeon, and Reps. Rob Andrews and Mike Conaway who led the Defense Acquisition reform panel, for their leadership on this issue.

By John Liang
April 22, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Insurgencies -- from the Vietnam War to the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan -- tend to follow certain patterns, according to a new RAND Corp. study.

"The study provides a planning framework for both policymakers and strategists to help design counterinsurgency campaigns and mitigate the kind of false expectations that undermined the arc of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan," according to a RAND statement on the study. Specifically, RAND intelligence policy analyst Ben Connable says that counterinsurgency ops "will continue to play a large role in today's military strategy, so it is critical to understand how and perhaps more importantly, why, insurgencies end."

Analysts looked at 89 insurgency cases "and concluded it is possible to shape insurgency endings with sufficient forethought, strategic flexibility and sustained willpower," the statement reads, but adds a caveat that "because numerous variables help define insurgencies -- local culture, terrain, economy, type of government -- the study notes there is no one-size-fits-all template for dealing with insurgencies."

Specifically, the RAND study found:

* Modern insurgencies last approximately 10 years and the government’s chances of winning increase slightly over time.
* Withdrawal of state sponsorship cripples an insurgency and typically leads to its defeat, while inconsistent or impartial support to either side generally presages defeat.
* Pseudo-democracies do not often succeed against insurgencies and are rarely successful in fully democratizing.

The report also identifies "key indicators of tipping points -– when events take a crucial turn toward the final outcome," according to the RAND statement. "The rates at which desertions, defections and infiltrations of an insurgency occur and the willingness of civilians to report on insurgency activity to the government can be significant."


Insurgencies with more than two clear parties involved have longer, more violent and more complex endings, said Connable. Contrary to conventional wisdom, governments tend to outlast insurgents, mainly because they are typically stronger, better organized and more professional than non-state forces.

Governments are better off without external support, but tend to lose when support is withdrawn in the midst of a campaign. Insurgents need external support to survive, and they need sanctuary, but stand a better chance of succeeding if that sanctuary is given voluntarily.

Insurgent cadres formed around a traditional, hierarchical structure are more often successful than fragmented networks, and insurgencies rarely succeed in middle-income and urbanized countries, but fare better in rural or a mix of rural and urban terrain, according to the study.

The study also found that terrorism often backfires and the use of indiscriminate terror is often a sign of overconfidence or weakness. However, weak insurgencies can win, particularly if the government also is weak, loses the war through sheer ineptitude or if the causes of the insurgency are strong enough to carry the fight to its ending. The RAND study found weak insurgencies won in 50 percent of the decided cases.

By Christopher J. Castelli
April 22, 2010 at 5:00 AM

The Defense Department said this afternoon it is seeking to mitigate the high risk in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program that is described in a DOD assessment first reported in today's edition of Inside the Pentagon.

"After a Department-wide review that started late 2009 and continues today, the program is undergoing a restructure, in part, to address the risks described in the Developmental Test and Evaluation and System Engineering Fiscal Year 2009 annual report," Pentagon spokeswoman Cheryl Irwin said in a statement provided after the publication of the article. "The Fiscal Year 2011 President's Budget Request includes the programmatic adjustments associated with that restructure."

By John Liang
April 21, 2010 at 5:00 AM

The Energy Department has nuclear detonation detection sensors that it would like to place on the Pentagon's ballistic missile early warning satellites. The only problem: Delays and cost overruns to the Space Based Infrared System program that have resulted in it being renamed as the Precision Tracking Space Surveillance (PTSS) system.

NNSA has budgeted $126.5 million for the effort in fiscal year 2011, according to the organization's FY-11 budget justification book:

The satellite-based segment of the program builds the Global Burst Detector (GBD) and Space and Atmospheric Burst Reporting System (SABRS) payloads for detecting and reporting nuclear detonations. These payloads are launched on Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites and missile warning replenishment satellites. In addition to building the payloads, the program supports the integration, initialization, and operation of these payloads. The NDD subprogram supports the research, development, and engineering efforts to prepare next generation sensors. For FY 2011, production and delivery of GBD and SABRS payloads will continue at a pace to support timely Air Force launch of host satellites.

Kenneth Baker, principal assistant deputy administrator in the National Nuclear Security Administration's office of defense nuclear nonproliferation, answered a question on that from Senate Armed Services emerging threats and capabilities subcommittee Chairman Bill Nelson (D-FL) at a hearing today:

We are still building, and if I can, sir, I'll give you a more expanded answer for the record, if it's okay. But we have expanded, we have continued to build nuclear detection sensors. You are right, it's been a struggle with the Air Force on launching these things and we're trying to work that right now. But we have a commitment in DOE to continue to build these sensors and hopefully they will fly on (SBIRS) one day or however they get up there, but if I can, I'd like to provide you a more detailed, classified answer to that question. But there is a problem here and I agree with you.

By John Liang
April 21, 2010 at 5:00 AM

The Missile Defense Agency this week put out feelers to potential contractors for the land-based missile defense component meant to be used in Europe within the next decade.

According to an April 19 Federal Business Opportunities notice, MDA wants information "on component capabilities for a high-performance interceptor for the Missile Defense Agency," adding:

The Agency is investigating options for developing the next generation of Standard Missile Three, designated the Block IIB, and targeted for Phase 4 of the President’s Phased Adaptive Approach. From its forward deployed location, the Block IIB interceptor is designed to defeat Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM). A higher performing interceptor paired with Ballistic Missile Defense System sensors that detect and track threats with greater accuracy throughout their trajectory improves our chances of intercepting the enemy early, forces him to deploy countermeasures less effectively and improves our ability to handle raids. The Agency seeks insight into the technology to demonstrate a prototype missile within five years. Therefore, the Agency is requesting information primarily on components, boosters, and kinetic warheads concepts from industry, the national laboratories, universities and university affiliated research and development centers.

Consequently, the notice reads, MDA wants potential contractors to answer the following questions:

1. What are your component concepts for integration with the Mk 41 Vertical Launching System? Describe the propulsion characteristics of your booster stages including ballistic performance, mass fraction, and assess the maturity of the technology to reach that capability.

2. What techniques do you suggest we employ to reduce inert weight and gain velocity?

3. How do we achieve energy flexibility in the upper stage(s) and kinetic warhead? If we decide to reuse the SM-3 Block IB Kinetic Warhead, how does this affect your component concepts?

4. What is your concept for a lighter weight payload (nosecone, ejector, kinetic warhead)?

5. What Noise Equivalent Irradiance, divert impulse, and operating time do you think is achievable in a lighter weight kinetic warhead (under 30 kg)? Describe seeker, propulsion (attitude control and divert), and avionics components.

6. What are the impacts of operating in a high velocity regime? What are the key controllability characteristics? How do you separate the stages in this regime?

7. How would you communicate with the missile in flight?

8. What are the key knowledge points we must prove before entering into product development?

9. What are your suggestions for acquiring this knowledge?

Responses are due May 19 at 5 p.m. CST, according to the notice.