Public Law 99-190
(continuing appropriations for fiscal year 1986) called for
the Office of Technology Assessment to conduct a”. . . comprehensive classified
study . . . together with an unclassified version
. . . to determine the technologi-
cal feasibility and implications, and the ability to survive and function despite
a preemptive attack by an aggressor possessing comparable technology, of the
Strategic Defense Initiative Program. ” In addition, the accompanying Confer-
ence Report specified that . . . “This study shall include an analysis of the feasibil-
ity of meeting SDI computer software requirements. ”
This unclassified report completes OTA’s response to that mandate.
SDI technologies in context by reporting the kinds of ballistic missile defense
(BMD) system architectures that the SDI organization has considered for “phased
It reviews the status of the various SDI technologies and system
components. It analyzes the feasibility of producing dependable software of the
complexity that advanced BMD systems would require. Finally, it summarizes
what is now known—and unknown—about the probable survivability of such sys-
tems against concerted enemy attacks of various kinds.
The study found that major uncertainties remain concerning the probable cost,
effectiveness, and survivability of the kinds of BMD system (which rely on kinetic
rather than directed-energy weapons) that might be deployable in the “phase-one’
proposed for the mid to late 1990s.