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Development Life-Cycle of the Strategic Defense Initiative Program

by Ron Kurtus (21 November 2007)

Following the standard military acquisition process, the development life-cycle of the proposed Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) program goes through four phases: Conceptual Exploration, Demonstration and Validation of Concept, Full Scale Development of Design, and Production and Deployment.

The outline of these phases was developed prior to 1988 and consists of unclassified material of this top secret program.

Questions you may have include:

This lesson will answer those questions.



Phase 1: Conceptual exploration

A scenario of possible threats to the continental United States (CONUS) and its allies by enemy missiles was established. Due to these threats, it would be highly desirable to be able to destroy or repel all the missiles sent up by some sort of protective shield.

The concept of a defensive shield is the Space Defensive System (SDS). That system would employ surveillance satellites to monitor the Earth, report if an attack occurs, and then discharge various weapons to shoot down the missiles before they can do any harm.

Information on the threats and defensive goals was given to various contractors, so they could explore concepts for developing SDS. The best concepts were then selected for further development in Phase 2: Demonstration and Validation phase.

A technical requirements document was given to contractors.

Phase 2: Demonstration and validation of concept

In order to demonstrate and validate (DEM/VAL) the SDS concept, the following experiments are being run:

It is felt that the system, as demonstrated in DEV/VAL might be perceived as fragile against Soviet responses. Thus, follow-on technologies are being explored in preparation for possible full scale development (FSD):

Phase 3: Full scale development of design

If the concepts and designs prove feasible, effective, and affordable, and provided the political climate would dictate continuance, the SDS Program will then go into Full Scale Development (FSD). The decision date on FSD is expected to be 1992.

Phase 4: Production and deployment

After FSD is completed, the production and deployment of SDS will occur. (Plans are not yet solidified.)

Summary

The Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) program used the military acquisition process for the development life-cycle, which is in four phases: Conceptual Exploration, Demonstration and Validation of Concept, Full Scale Development of Design, and Production and Deployment. The outline of these phases was developed prior to 1988.


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Resources and references

Ron Kurtus' Credentials

Websites

Federation of American Scientists articles on Strategic Defense Initiative

History of the Missile Defense Organization - U.S. Department of Defense

Succeed with Total Quality Management (TQM)

SDI History Resources

Books

Secret Weapons of the Cold War: From the H-Bomb to SDI by William Yenne; Berkley (2005) $7.99

US Strategic And Defensive Missile Systems 1950-2004 by Mark A. Berhow, Chris Taylor; Osprey Books (2005) $16.95

Top-rated books on Missle Defense


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