Surprise, surprise – rushing to deploy Chimpy’s half-assed Star Wars missile defense system in order to meet a political deadline has contributed to it’s complete impracticability
An outside panel chartered by the Pentagon has concluded that the rush to deploy a national antimissile system last year led to shortfalls in quality controls and engineering procedures that could have better assured the system would work, according to the panel’s final report.
Bent on meeting President Bush’s deadline to install the first elements of the system by the end of 2004, Pentagon officials put schedule ahead of performance, the report says. Among risky shortcuts that were taken, the panel says, were insufficient ground tests of key components, a lack of specifications and standards, and a tendency to postpone resolution of nettlesome issues.
“Manage quality first and then schedule,” the panel advises.
The three panelists, all rocketry experts, offer no judgment on Bush’s justification for hastily deploying the system: to counter a potential missile attack by North Korea.
In any case, the panel makes clear that the U.S. decision to press ahead with the antimissile system in the face of production and testing delays has come at considerable cost in assurances of its reliability. Pentagon officials have blamed a recent string of system flight-test failures on minor technical glitches. But the panel argues that the setbacks reflected a larger preoccupation with deadlines.
The panel’s report reinforces concerns expressed by some Democratic lawmakers, scientists and other critics that the administration has moved too quickly to build an antimissile system whose effectiveness is still questionable and whose ultimate price tag — in the tens of billions of dollars — is excessive.