Costs of Star Wars

6 September 2001

by Loring Wirbel

These numbers are pretty tricky to get, I got some help from Center for Defense Info, AFSC, even Raytheon PR, and the numbers still are fuzzy.

Basically, approximately $56 billion has been spent by BMDO between 1985 and 2000.  Close to 90 percent of this money goes directly to contractors, because the federal government likes to outsource even the basic R&D whenever possible.  The per-year budget of BMDO has ranged consistently between $2.8 billion and $3.7 billion until 1998, when it began shooting up to more than $4 billion a year.  Bush would like to increase 2002 to more than $8 billion.

The traditional style of military contract is a Procurement contract, for weapons and support systems already in the pipeline.  This has represented only about 10 percent of BMDO's annual budget since 1985, but after 1998 it went up to about 15 percent of the budget.  All of the Procurement portion of the budget goes to contractors.

About 80 percent of the annual budget is RDT&E (Research, Development, Test and Engineering), with about 10 percent to Advanced Technology.  While a little bit of this money goes to national labs, most ends up going into contractors' pockets.  So, depending on how you want to list the numbers, probably about $49 billion of the $56 billion spent on missile defense to date has gone to contractors, though only about $5 to $6 billion presents procurement. (About 42 percent goes to National Missile Defense, 43 percent to Theater Missile Defense, and 15 percent to Advanced Technologies).

Raytheon has four major programs in BMD.  Two of them are missile programs from the Hughes facility in Tucson: Raytheon is the developer of the Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle, part of the NMD ground-based interceptor. Each EKV costs between $30 and $35 million, but it is only in test phase.

Raytheon has probably spent around $300 to $400 million on this program in a mix of government funding and government subsidized internal funds. The other missile program is the warhead for the SM-3 missile used in Navy Theaterwide Missile Defense.  The tests for Navy TMD are still using the SM-2 missile, so essentially no warheads have been ordered, it's still in test phase and they've spent a few tens of millions of dollars on this.

Raytheon also works on a sensor for the SBIRS-Low program for early warning, and a special infrared sensor for test ranges.  The infrared sensor was awarded $7.9 million by BMDO in 1998, but the SBIRS-Low costs are hidden in overall SBIRS budgets.  I doubt Raytheon has spent more than about $10 or $15 million on it so far, though.

Raytheon is a secondary laser contractor for both Airborne and  Space-Based Laser, but the main contractors here are LockMart, TRW, and Boeing, so Raytheon's involvement is pretty small. Keep in mind that this all has to do directly with BMDO.  Raytheon is heavily involved in intelligence programs for Space Command and NRO, particularly in ground stations, and these help to serve space warfare. They are totally within the black budget, however. I realize that these are fuzzy numbers to work with, but I hope it helps.

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