Implications of SDIO's Changing Ballistic Missile Defense Architecture

T-IMTEC-91-13: Published: May 16, 1991. Publicly Released: May 16, 1991.

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GAO discussed the architecture and integrated system-level testing of the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization's (SDIO) first phase of the Strategic Defense System. GAO noted that: (1) changing threats, missions, emerging technologies, and unstable SDIO architecture have caused confusion, forced costly redesigns, and increased the risk that the Strategic Defense System would not perform as expected; (2) political changes have added such new missions as the Global Protection Against Limited Strike System, created to protect the United States against limited or accidental ballistic missile strikes; and (3) SDIO addition of Brilliant Pebbles to the architecture in January 1990 reduced, changed, or eliminated the need for the other space-based subsystems in the 1988 design and was now the cornerstone of the current SDIO approach to strategic defense. GAO believes that SDIO can not effectively and efficiently design, develop, or test a strategic defense system without a stable architecture.

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