According to Air Force Col. John Daniels, Missile Defense Agency program lead on the Airborne Laser, the oft-quoted figure of $13 billion for the ABL program is wrong. He told a Marshall Institute roundtable audience that the $13 billion included not only development costs but also the cost for seven production aircraft and their operations and support costs over 20-30 years. Unfortunately, Daniels said it’s “hard to yank that out” of ABL brochures. He would not, however, offer a counter figure. Plans now call for MDA to build a second, improved ABL, said Daniels, adding that, until the agency completes studies on just how different the new aircraft will be, he cannot provide revised program costs.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.