Congressional Budget Office Projects Missile Defense Costs

By Boese, Wade | Arms Control Today, March 2002 | Go to article overview
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Congressional Budget Office Projects Missile Defense Costs


Boese, Wade, Arms Control Today


FULFILLING A RESEARCH request made by senior Senate Democrats last year, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a report January 31 estimating that separate ground-, sea-, and space-based missile defenses would each cost tens of billions of dollars to complete.

The nonpartisan CBO reported that deploying a ground-based defense would total $23-64 billion between 2002 and 2015, depending on the number of missile interceptors involved. A stand-alone sea-based system would run $43-55 billion to reach operational capability by 2015, and an independent space-based laser system would cost approximately $56-68 billion between 2002 and 2025. The $7-9 billion already appropriated for the ground- and sea-based systems between 1996 and 2001 was not included in the CBO numbers.

Once the systems are deployed, CBO predicted that the annual cost for operating a ground-based defense of 100 missile interceptors after 2015 would be about $600 million, while upkeep of such a system numbering 375 missile interceptors would be around $1.4 billion. Maintaining a seabased system after 2015 would cost about $1 billion per year, and keeping a spacebased laser system functioning after it was deployed by 2025 would require an estimated $300 million each year.

The Bush administration is seeking to deploy layered missile defenses that might include all of these systems in order to maximize the chances of shooting down a ballistic missile during its entire flight. CBO warned against adding the separate figures together to arrive at an overall price tag for a layered system because, if deployed together, the systems could share some components, sensors, and research and development, thereby cutting costs.

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