Martin Sieff / UPI Senior News Analyst – 2006-01-29 23:56:23
The annual cost of the Bush administration’s missile defense plans could more than double to $19 billion by 2013, and total $247 billion from 2006 through fiscal 2024, according to a recent report.
The report, “The Long-Term Implications of Current Defense Plans and Alternatives: Detailed Update for Fiscal Year 2006,” was produced by the Congressional Budget Office and released this month as an update to a September 2004 report, the Global Security Newswire reported Tuesday.
The study projected an average $13 billion per year cost for missile defense through 2024, it said.
The Bush administration requested about $8.5 billion for the program last year for the current fiscal 2006, according to the report. The annual cost should climb rapidly to $19 billion by 2013, due to major equipment purchases, before dropping significantly to about $8 billion annually by 2024, it says. All figures are in 2006 dollars.
Administration officials have said they are pursuing a “layered” approach to missile defense, which involves developing multiple technological approaches to striking various ballistic missiles from land, sea, air and possibly space.
The report’s projections also incorporate an assumption for the unexpected cost growth of the systems under development, based on historic cost-growth rates for major weapons systems since the Vietnam War. GSN said.
The report incorporates potential costs for the following major systems:
• Ground-based Midcourse Defense system interceptors and radars;
• nine low-orbit, infrared Space Tracking and Surveillance System satellites;
• a boost-phase kinetic energy interceptor system;
• seven Airborne Laser 747 aircraft;
• additional Patriot Advanced Capability 3 (PAC-3) short-range missile defense systems; and
• Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense System (THAAD) components.
The report also includes costs for the sea-based Aegis missile defense system under development, and space-based and mobile ground-based interceptor systems that are under early consideration. But it does not factor in the US Air Force’s troubled SBIRS-High early warning satellite program. They are intended for non-missile defense uses as well. Nor does the report specify how many ground-based, space-based, or sea-based systems it assumes will be purchased.
Victoria Samson, a Center for Defense Information missile defense analyst who released an analysis of the report last week, told GSN she believed the report, if anything, underestimated the probable cost of the administration’s plans. “If they did everything they wanted to, reports have estimated it could run over a trillion dollars,” she said, citing a 2003 report by prominent economists that drew such a conclusion.
The projected growth for missile defense costs corresponds with substantial overall Defense Department cost increases, according to the CBO report. Military funding reached $509 billion in fiscal 2005, including $74 billion in supplemental funding, it says.
The CBO report says the annual total could average about $522 billion a year through 2011 and $563 billion per year from 2012 through 2024, if historical cost growth and military expenditures to fight terrorists abroad are factored.
That estimate, though, appears to assume that supplemental appropriations for US military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq will end in Fiscal Year 2006.