You see, just hours before we saw the details on planned government defense spending, the Pentagon had the bright idea of running a missile defense test. Previous tests had gone so well, one presumes, that the generals wanted to generate a banner headline in support of the administration's request to allocate $9.9 billion to funding U.S. missile defenses.
Wish -- granted
Well, they got the headline, all right. Just not the one they wanted.
Sunday's $150 million test firing of a (dud) ballistic missile from the Marshall Islands, to be intercepted by a ground-based missile launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, went perfectly -- all the way up to the point when the interceptor missed the missile.
Pundits so far are laying the blame on Raytheon, which built the radar that (failed to) track the target, and exonerating other team members Boeing
Worse still, the administration has shown itself to be amenable to cuts of this nature. Last year, Defense Secretary Robert Gates spearheaded an effort to terminate, in quick succession:
- The Raytheon / Orbital Sciences
(NYSE: ORB)/ Northrop Grumman (NYSE: NOC)effort to build a kinetic energy interceptor;
(NYSE: LMT)Multiple Kill Vehicle (an ABM project targeting MIRVs);
- And Boeing's flying laser project.
I don't know about you, but I'm starting to see a pattern here. Up until now, the defense companies' successful string of anti-missile test results has given them partial cover from the Pentagon budget wars. Sunday's snafu just blew away that cover like the leaves of winter.
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