Strategic Defense Initiative:

Some Claims Overstated for Early Flight Tests of Interceptors

NSIAD-92-282: Published: Sep 8, 1992. Publicly Released: Sep 16, 1992.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the accuracy of Strategic Defense Initiative Organization's (SDIO) claims concerning flight test results.

GAO found that the: (1) Kinetic Kill Vehicle Integrated Technology Experiment (KITE) utilizes a shroud to protect the optical window sensor at the missile's front; (2) Army Strategic Defense Command inaccurately claimed that the KITE test successfully showed the shroud's effectiveness, but accurately claimed that the window cooling system functioned properly; (3) Army Strategic Defense Command accurately reported the KITE-2 test as a failure due to explosion at ignition; (4) Exoatmospheric Reentry Vehicle Interceptor Subsystem (ERIS) program is designed to resolve technical issues in developing a ground-based interceptor system; (5) Army Strategic Defense Command accurately claimed that the first ERIS test sucessfully met test plan goals, but inaccurately claimed that target discrimination was achieved; (6) ERIS-2 test failed to intercept the target and the Army Strategic Defense Command accurately explained the reasons for failure; (7) Lightweight Exoatmospheric Projectile (LEAP) program is designed to develop the smallest, lightest, kinetic kill interceptor possible; (8) LEAP tests succeeded in achieving test set up goals, but altitude and target positioning information claims were inaccurate; (9) Brilliant Pebbles interceptor project is designed to destroy ballistic missiles within the first two stages of their flight; (10) claims that Brilliant Pebbles test was 90-percent sucessful in light of reduced objectives, that increasingly sophisticated tests were successful, and that Phase I testing had been completed were overstated and inaccurate; (11) SDIO statements regarding the failure of the first test due to information transmission malfunctions were accurate; and (12) tracking software for intercepting targets was never tested and more difficult daytime tests were never conducted.

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