Boeing’s Muilenburg On Defense, Space Challenges

By Joseph C. Anselmo
Source: Aviation Week & Space Technology

In missile defense, the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system has not been consistently tested, and the testing that has occurred has not been largely successful.

Overall, the program is going well. Clearly, we were disappointed that the last flight test did not get a successful intercept. When we do major flight tests, we learn a lot every time, which allows us to improve and inject technology into the system. But to have a reliable missile defense capability for the country, we have to be able to test it on a regular basis. And so we've been advocating, along with the Missile Defense Agency, for more frequent, consistent, periodic testing of the system—a combination of regular testing of the system and testing associated with technology injection, including kill-vehicle technology.

This is a multibillion-dollar system, and the U.S. is not capable of showing the world that it works.

That goes back to my point. Currently, there are multiple years between tests. The fact that failures and technology obsolescence occur should not surprise anyone. While an intercept wasn't achieved in the last test, all the rest of the integrated system worked magnificently well: the networking systems, the radar connectivity, the situational awareness and the multiple asset control. We didn't get the intercept, but you shouldn't conclude that the entire test didn't work. It actually verified a great deal of the system. Our ability to continue to make it better and reliable is dependent on regular testing.

On the tanker program, the government's estimated cost of completion still exceeds the contract value by up to $500 million. How much will Boeing have to pay to have this tanker on the ramp in 2017?

We don't have to pay anything additional. Our execution to date is exactly what we proposed, and we haven't changed our [cost] estimate. We completed critical design review in July, the technology is completely on track and risk reduction is on schedule. We have high confidence that we will perform to what we proposed: flying the first green airplane in the middle of next year, having the first full-up tanker flying early in 2015, first delivery in 2016, and having 18 tankers in 2017. We are performing exactly to the contract as proposed and signed. We're not to the cost ceiling, and we will perform to plan.

Dennis A. Muilenburg

Age: 49

Education: Bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering from Iowa State University and a Master's degree in aeronautics and astronautics from the University of Washington.

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