President Signs Bill Terminating DWSS
As one of his last official acts of 2011, on December 31 President Obama signed into law the FY2012 National Defense Authorization Act. Among its provisions, the bill terminates the Defense Weather Satellite System (DWSS) that was DOD's portion of the restructured NPOESS program
The bill (H.R. 1540) authorizes $43 million for termination liability costs. Northrop Grumman was the prime contractor for NPOESS. DOD has two of its legacy Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) satellites still "in the barn" awaiting launch, so its need for a new system is less urgent than NOAA's for the civilian weather satellite program (all of NOAA's polar orbiting weather satellites are already in orbit). The FY2012 appropriations bill that includes DOD (H.R. 2055) agrees with the authorization action and provides $125 million for an otherwise undefined follow-on weather satellite system.
In 1994, the Clinton White House directed NOAA and DOD (with NASA as a third partner in charge of technology development) to build a joint polar orbiting weather satellite system meeting both civil and military needs instead of the separate systems operated by the agencies historically. Sixteen years later, President Obama issued a "divorce" after years of cost overruns and schedule delays attributed primarily to the inability of the two agencies to work together effectively. The President directed a return to separate systems. NOAA is now building the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) to meet civil needs, with NASA as its acquisition agent. DOD's new system was to be DWSS.
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