Pentagon Delays Plans to Seek Multiyear Funding for Missile Interceptor

Global Security Newswire Staff
April 22, 2014, 8:01 a.m.

The Pentagon is post­pon­ing plans to re­quest con­gres­sion­al ap­prov­al for a mul­ti­year pro­duc­tion con­tract for a new mis­sile in­ten­ded for field­ing in Ro­mania.

The Stand­ard Mis­sile 3 Block 1B is slated to be de­ployed in Ro­mania next year as part of the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s “phased ad­apt­ive ap­proach” for European mis­sile de­fense. Ad­di­tion­ally, sea-based vari­ants of the in­ter­cept­or, which is de­signed to counter short- and me­di­um-range bal­list­ic mis­siles, are to be fielded on war­ships based in the Medi­ter­ranean.

However, the De­fense De­part­ment’s Mis­sile De­fense Agency has de­term­ined the an­ti­mis­sile tech­no­logy has not yet ful­filled all of the re­quire­ments to war­rant a mul­ti­year pro­duc­tion or­der worth $3 bil­lion to pro­du­cer Ray­theon, In­side De­fense re­por­ted on Fri­day.

MDA spokes­man Rick Lehner, in an email to the news­let­ter, said the agency still needs to show evid­ence of a con­sist­ent need for the an­ti­mis­sile tech­no­logy, a stable design, re­li­able fund­ing, a real­ist­ic price pro­jec­tion and the prob­ab­il­ity of sig­ni­fic­ant sav­ings com­pared to a yearly ac­quis­i­tion or­der.

The Pentagon is de­fer­ring un­til fisc­al 2016 any ef­fort to seek con­gres­sion­al au­thor­iz­a­tion for a mul­ti­year con­tract on the in­ter­cept­or, ac­cord­ing to In­side De­fense.

Con­gress’ watch­dog or­gan­iz­a­tion in a re­port is­sued earli­er this month re­com­men­ded the Mis­sile De­fense Agency hold off on or­der­ing full pro­duc­tion of the mis­sile un­til a de­cision is made about needed modi­fic­a­tions to the sys­tem’s hard­ware or soft­ware and un­til any design changes have been proven through test­ing. The Gov­ern­ment Ac­count­ab­il­ity Of­fice re­com­mend­a­tion fol­lowed an in­ter­cept tri­al last Septem­ber in which one of the launched Block 1B mis­siles failed to per­form for reas­ons not yet dis­closed.

Some funds planned to pur­chase Block 1B sys­tems between fisc­al 2015 and fisc­al 2019 have been shif­ted to oth­er MDA ini­ti­at­ives. This was due to con­gres­sion­ally man­dated se­quest­ra­tion cuts, which res­ul­ted in a “re­align­ment of funds to high­er pri­or­ity bal­list­ic mis­sile de­fense sys­tem” activ­it­ies, Lehner said.

The De­fense De­part­ment an­ti­cip­ates field­ing 100 Block 1B in­ter­cept­ors as part of the second phase of the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s European mis­sile de­fense ini­ti­at­ive. Amid con­cerns about the pos­sib­il­ity of new Rus­si­an in­cur­sions against East­ern European coun­tries, the tim­ing of de­ploy­ment of U.S. an­ti­mis­sile sys­tems on the con­tin­ent has taken on re­newed geo­pol­it­ic­al prom­in­ence.

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