Raytheon Eyes Resuming Work on Missile-Defense ‘Kill Vehicle’

Global Security Newswire Staff
June 24, 2014, 9:28 a.m.

Ray­theon is await­ing word from the Pentagon to re­sume pro­du­cing a kin­et­ic kill vehicle, fol­low­ing a mis­sile-in­ter­cept test on Sunday de­scribed as suc­cess­ful.

A second-gen­er­a­tion Exoat­mo­spher­ic Kill Vehicle, moun­ted atop an in­ter­cept­or mis­sile, suc­cess­fully des­troyed an in­ter­me­di­ate-range bal­list­ic mis­sile tar­get in a test over the Pa­cific Ocean. It was the first time out of three costly at­tempts that the so-called “CE-2” sys­tem was able to in­ter­cept a mock threat.

In the wake of pre­vi­ous failed tests, the Pentagon’s Mis­sile De­fense Agency had stopped ac­cept­ing more CE-2 kill vehicles, though 10 of them are already fielded on long-range in­ter­cept­ors de­ployed in silos in Cali­for­nia and Alaska as part of the Ground-based Mid­course De­fense sys­tem. The an­ti­mis­sile frame­work is con­sidered the United States’ prin­cip­al de­fense against a lim­ited-range in­ter­con­tin­ent­al bal­list­ic mis­sile strike.

“There are no oth­er hurdles that we’re aware of, so we ex­pect that we will go in­to pro­duc­tion shortly,” Ray­theon’s vice pres­id­ent for air and mis­sile de­fense sys­tems, Wes Kre­mer, said dur­ing a phone call with re­port­ers on Monday. Kre­mer said the Pentagon has not yet form­ally dir­ec­ted Ray­theon to re­start pro­duc­tion of the kill vehicle, Re­u­ters re­por­ted.

The Pentagon is plan­ning to de­ploy an ad­di­tion­al 14 in­ter­cept­ors out­fit­ted with kin­et­ic kill vehicles in Alaska by 2017 in re­sponse to con­cerns about  North Korea’s ad­vances in mis­sile de­vel­op­ment.

Kre­mer said his com­pany was eager to also fin­ish de­vel­op­ing an al­to­geth­er new design for the kill vehicle, which the Mis­sile De­fense Agency would like to see fielded around 2017-2018.

Sunday’s test “does not neg­ate the need to do a re­design to im­prove the over­all re­li­ab­il­ity of the kill vehicle,” Kre­mer said.

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