US burned $231 million over sat-aided missile system: Report
Iran Press TV
Sat Dec 26, 2015 7:22PM
A new report details how the United States government threw away over $230 million of taxpayer money on a failed satellite-aided missile system.
According to the Los Angeles Times article published on Saturday, the project known as Precision Tracking Space System (PTSS) was initially represented in 2009 as an "unprecedented capability" to protect America and its allies against a nuclear attack.
A key congressional supporter described the project by the US Missile Defense Agency as "a necessity for our country."
But the PTSS was officially "discontinued" on October 1, 2013 over a raft of issues.
The US missile shield program was meant to use a network of nine to 12 satellites, orbiting high above the equator, to detect missile launches and track warheads in flight with great precision.
It would be able to tell apart real missiles from decoys - an elusive capability known as "discrimination." It would help guide US rocket-interceptors to destroy incoming warheads. And it would do all this at a fraction of the cost of alternative approaches.
Based on those promises, the administration of President Barack Obama and Congress poured more than $230 million into design and engineering work on PTSS starting in 2009. Four years later though, the government quietly killed the program before a single satellite was launched.
The Missile Defense Agency said PTSS fell victim to budget constraints. In fact, the program was spiked after outside experts determined that the entire concept was hopelessly flawed and the claims made by its advocates were erroneous. It was the latest in a string of expensive failures for the missile agency.
The Los Angeles Times said it examined hundreds of pages of congressional testimony and other government records and interviewed leading defense scientists and others familiar with PTSS.
The paper found among other things that in their equatorial orbit, the satellites would have been blind to warheads flying over the Arctic - one of the likely paths for missiles fired at the US.
Also, with at most 12 satellites, the system could not have provided continuous tracking of missiles across the Northern Hemisphere, as promised. That would require at least twice as many satellites.
Additionally, the PTSS could not have reliably distinguished warheads from decoys and harmless debris. The satellites' sensors were not powerful enough.
The Missile Defense Agency's cost estimate - $10 billion over 20 years - was way off. PTSS would have cost at least $24 billion over that time period, according to an independent assessment done for the Pentagon and Congress.
And that even if the system lived up to its billing, it would have been largely redundant. Existing satellites and radars can do much of what PTSS was supposed to do.
"It's an example of what can go wrong in defense procurement: Huge amounts of money just pissed away on things that should never have advanced beyond a study," the US daily quoted David K. Barton, a physicist and radar engineer who served on a National Academy of Sciences panel that reviewed US missile-defense programs, including PTSS.
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