National Missile Defense is priceless…in the sense that no one knows what the price will be

Congress ponders missile-defense cost

NMD funding requests have been cut by $1 billion, but there’s still $9 billion in the new budget.

The government has spent about $92 billion on missile defense since 1983. The administration expects to spend $58 billion more over the next six years. But officials have not put an overall price tag on the system.

On the other hand, outside experts expect it to far surpass $150 billion. Groups favoring arms reductions claim the overall price tag could range from $800 billion to $1.2 trillion.

That’s a lot of dough. Murdoc supports the NMD effort, but it sure would be nice if the tests and demonstrations were more successful.


  1. Murdoc, I love your subtitle. Now GIVE me your opinion! ‘It would be nice’…that’s an opinion? For real…do you support spending 9 or 10 BILLION per year on a program that so far has produced limited results? I do. Without reservation or hesitation. Just consider the cost of ONE nuclear ICBM landing in our country. (Even if it hit the Left Coast, that would still be a bad thing.)

  2. I’m still hoping that this is all just window dressing and we intend to get serious about it when China has a missile capable of hitting us. When we get serious, we’ll be putting nuclear tips on the interceptors. Hell, if our choice is having an airburst at high altitude over the Pacific or an airburst over LA, I’ll take the former in a hearbeat.

  3. The thing that excites me about missile defence is not the defence itself (which, if it works, would certainly be worthwhile), but the technology boost which will come as a result of developing it. Development of anything that’s *really* hard usually leads to several new technologies that have impacts on other fields. Look at the Apollo program, which in turn borrowed a lot of technology from the ICBM program. We probably wouldn’t be where we are with computers today without Apollo, and Apollo probably wouldn’t have gone so well without the ICBM program. Similarly, I suspect that technology like radars, missiles/rockets and IR sensors will receive a boost from all this money. Also I hope it leads to software reform. It seems like most of the missile defence’s problems are software related (being a computer programmer I find that not surprising in the least). I’d like to see better practices from programmers. Perhaps one day when someone initiates a critical project which relies on software we’ll see some improvements. The folks who work on software for aircraft, I would imagine, lead the field. I’d hope the missile programmers could learn something from them. Nothing like your software being the difference between life and death to make you write it carefully.

  4. Phelps, you DO know what happens if you detonate a nuclear warhead in the upper atmosphere, don’t you? Please tell me you do, if you’re going to advocate it. I think potentially taking out ALL the satellites orbiting earth is just ONE of the bad side-effects of doing that. You may want to read these: Note that nuclear ICBM killers don’t destroy their targets by heat or blast, since there’s no atmosphere in space to generate the fireball/shockwave. Instead they kill using X-rays. Which aren’t very discriminating. Keep in mind, at the velocities warheads travel, you only have to hit them with something the size of a BB to destroy it. (I could be wrong, but if I am, not by too much. At those speeds, the kinetic energy of a projectile is much higher than the equivalent mass of HE). You may also want to read this:

  5. Phelps, what exactly do you mean by ‘when the Chinese have a missile capable of hitting us.’ Are you really this clueless???

  6. Oh yeah, that too… Don’t forget not only did the Chinese buy Soviet equipment and license built it, they’ve actually improved quite a lot of it, including missiles. They’re pretty hard-core. I suspect the improvements come at a price (harder to manufacture, shorter storage life, more likely to fail, etc.) but they have shown they are capable of taking Soviet missiles and increasing their range.