Friday, June 22, 2007

Congress Out to Destroy the Airborne Laser

If you tell me that this world doesn't have room for an airborne laser ($), I'm not sure I want to go on living in it:

Rounding out the agency’s list of top three priorities is the Airborne Laser program. From the president’s $548.7 million request, the House cut $250 million and the Senate committee shaved $200 million.

Either cut “would spell the demise for the Airborne Laser program,” Altwegg said.

“We think this revolutionary capability should be given a chance to proceed to shoot down” in 2009, he added.

ABL is being designed to locate and track missiles in the boost phase of flight and then accurately point and fire the high-energy laser, destroying the missiles near their launch areas.

The broader article is on the action in Congress to slash the President's request for the Missile Defense Agency. The White House is really between a rock and a hard place on this, as Congress just doesn't like missile defense, and the Russians don't either:

MDA, part of the Defense Department, requested $310.4 million for fiscal 2008 to fund the proposed construction and deployment of an interceptor site in Europe. The House bill (H.R. 1585), chops $160 million in funding while the Senate Armed Services Committee’s version of the bill (S. 567), passed by the committee last month, cuts $85 million. It is unclear when the Senate bill will be introduced on the floor. The appropriations committees will not mark up their defense spending bills until after the July Fourth recess.

The United States is proposing to place 10 interceptors in Poland and the affiliated radar in the Czech Republic, but an agreement has not been reached...

Aside from the European interceptor site, Altwegg said MDA’s second priority is to get funding reinstated for the Multiple Kill Vehicle. That project allows for more than one “kill vehicle” to be launched from a single booster, with the ability to shoot down multiple objects.

“It is our linchpin that allows us to cope with ... decoys and other countermeasures that might present themselves,” Altwegg said.

The House cut $42 million from the president’s $271 million MKV request.

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