The Air Force selected Rockwell International and Northrop on Friday as suppliers for up to $3.6 billion worth of nuclear missile guidance equipment. But there's a hitch--the program was all but struck dead Thursday when the Pentagon released its fiscal 1989 budget.
It was one of the strange quirks of the 1989 federal defense budget, which has yet to be approved by Congress. Meanwhile, the Pentagon weapons bureaucracy is grinding on, making daily decisions.
On Friday, the Air Force's Ballistic Missile Office in San Bernardino said it had selected the Advanced Inertial Reference Sphere, or AIRS, as the guidance system for the Midgetman missile. The AIRS system, which is used on the MX missile, is produced by Northrop and Rockwell International.
The guidance system, also known as an inertial measurement unit, or IMU, became the focus of national attention last year when manufacturing problems and other operating irregularities at Northrop were disclosed in a series of congressional hearings.