Raining on Start Wars

Star Wars might work, but not not when it rains — at least according to this story.

Sieff, Martin. 2007. “BMD Focus: Rain Downed U.S. BMD Shield.” UPI (29 March).


The Project on Government Oversight, or POGO — a non-government U.S. watchdog body founded in 1981 — reported that several of the key interceptors could never even have been launched last July when North Korea fired its missile, not because of North Korea sabotage, or sabotage by anyone else, but because of rain.

“A significant portion of the U.S. missile defense capability was wiped out during the summer of 2006 because torrential rains caused ground-based interceptor silos to be damaged by flood waters,” POGO said in a statement.

“Boeing, the contractor that is at least partly responsible for failing to protect the silos, will most likely still receive an estimated $38 million to repair the silos and a $100 million no-bid contract to build more silos. Boeing would also receive a $7 million award fee added to the contract,” the group said.

POGO noted that “the flooding occurred during a three-week period between the end of June and early July 2006 when Ft. Greely received several inches of rain. Ft. Greely and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California house the nation’s only Missile Defense Agency interceptor missiles.”

“The flooding damaged 25 percent of the U.S. interceptor missiles’ launch capability. These silos house the interceptor missiles that would be used to attempt to intercept a missile aimed at the United States. No interceptors were in the flooded silos,” the group’s report said.

POGO also reported that the flooding debacle had set off a fierce row between the U.S. military and Boeing, the prime contractor for building the Fort Greely interceptor fields.

“Insiders report that Boeing, the lead contractor responsible for building the fields disputes its role in the disaster,” the POGO report said. “Boeing argues that NORTHCOM, the U.S. military command responsible for defending North America, is primarily responsible because it ordered Boeing to stop working on the interceptor fields in case the missiles were needed to respond to a North Korean missile launch. “

POGO said “Boeing’s internal assessment shows that one of the missile fields has seven flooded interceptor silos — with up to 63 feet of water in one silo and 50 feet in another.

POGO noted that the annual bill for the GBI program currently runs at around $9 billion a year.

Seven Silo Interface Vaults, or SIVs, beside the silos housing the GBIs were also flooded, “two of them by as much as 15 feet of water,” the POGO report said. It noted that the SIVs are essential to the successful maintenance and operational capabilities of the ABMs.

“Boeing’s internal assessment reports that three SIVs must have all electronic and mechanical systems replaced. Four other SIVs have partial damage. One SIV was so damaged that it shifted vertically in the ground like a house shifting off its foundation,” POGO said.

The POGO report throws remarkable new light on the recent surprise request by the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, or MBA, for funding “to build an entirely new missile field of 20 missiles, along with associated support facilities,” as the POGO report puts it.


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