MUL­TI­PLE KILL VE­HI­CLE

Los Angeles Times - - THE NATION -

The con­cept: A “ban­dolier’’ of eight to 20 minia­ture in­ter­cep­tors that would de­stroy mis­siles and de­coys.

Ma­jor con­trac­tors: Raytheon Co. and Lock­heed Martin. Early op­ti­mism: “The Mul­ti­ple Kill Ve­hi­cle is a trans­for­ma­tional pro­gram adding vol­ume kill ca­pa­bil­ity to the bal­lis­tic mis­sile de­fense sys­tem as early as 2013.” — U.S. Mis­sile De­fense Agency news re­lease, July 19, 2006.

Prob­lems: The tech­ni­cal chal­lenge of cre­at­ing and launch­ing tiny “kill ve­hi­cles” that could find and de­stroy far heav­ier war­heads in space proved in­sur­mount­able. Among many other ob­sta­cles, ex­ist­ing ground-based rock­ets would have had to be retro­fit­ted or re­placed. The con­cept never reached the stage where a test flight could be con­ducted.

Dis­ap­point­ment: “To more ef­fec­tively hedge against fu­ture threats, we pro­pose to … ter­mi­nate the Mul­ti­ple Kill Ve­hi­cle … in lieu of more op­er­a­tionally ef­fi­cient al­ter­na­tive tech­nol­ogy ar­chi­tec­tures.” — Pa­trick J. O’Reilly, then-direc­tor of the Mis­sile De­fense Agency, May 21, 2009.

Sta­tus: Shelved in 2009. Cost: $700 MIL­LION

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