Pentagon Eyes Missile-Interceptor Buys, Following Test

Global Security Newswire Staff
June 25, 2014, 8:05 a.m.

The Pentagon’s seni­or fin­an­cial of­fi­cial says that Sunday’s suc­cess­ful in­ter­cept test will per­mit plans to ac­quire more mis­sile in­ter­cept­ors to move for­ward.

“It cer­tainly paves the way” to pro­ceed with ac­quis­i­tion plans for 14 ad­di­tion­al Ground Based In­ter­cept­ors, De­fense De­part­ment Comp­troller Robert Hale told Re­u­ters on Tues­day.

A GBI mis­sile armed with a second-gen­er­a­tion kin­et­ic kill vehicle elim­in­ated a bal­list­ic mis­sile tar­get in the Sunday test, which played out above the Pa­cific Ocean. The test was a closely watched event be­cause the Pentagon’s plans to spend $1 bil­lion to ac­quire 14 more of the in­ter­cept­ors were seen as hinging on the out­come. Pre­vi­ously, the mis­sile’s last suc­cess­ful in­ter­cept had been in 2008, fol­lowed by three un­suc­cess­ful at­tempts.

“If we had had con­tin­ued fail­ures, we would have had to re­think,” Hale said. “But I think our plan now re­mains to buy the ori­gin­al 14 in­ter­cept­ors.”

The Pentagon wants to have the new long-range in­ter­cept­ors fielded at Fort Greely in Alaska by 2017 as a coun­ter­meas­ure to North Korea’s stra­tegic mis­sile pro­gram. The mis­siles are to be equipped with the “CE-2” Exoat­mo­spher­ic Kill Vehicle, which had not had a suc­cess­ful in­ter­cept be­fore Sunday.

The Mis­sile De­fense Agency had stopped re­ceiv­ing CE-2 kill vehicles due to their test­ing prob­lems, though 10 of the sys­tems are already de­ployed on in­ter­cept­ors in Alaska and Cali­for­nia. Their de­veloper, Ray­theon Co., now an­ti­cip­ates be­ing giv­en au­thor­iz­a­tion soon to re­sume pro­duc­tion of the kin­et­ic com­pon­ents.

“I can’t go in­to pro­gram­mat­ic de­tails” of when man­u­fac­tur­ing will re­start for the CE-2 com­pon­ent, Wes Kre­mer, vice pres­id­ent for Ray­theon’s air and mis­sile de­fense sys­tem pro­grams, was quoted by In­side De­fense as telling journ­al­ists on Monday. “But clearly, the in­tent is to take this design with the fixes and de­ploy that as the CE-2 con­fig­ur­a­tion.”

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