U.S. Missile Defense System Stymied by ‘Bad Engineering’: Official

Global Security Newswire Staff
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Global Security Newswire Staff
Feb. 26, 2014, 8:17 a.m.

The prin­cip­al U.S. sys­tem for coun­ter­ing stra­tegic mis­sile at­tacks has been ham­strung by “bad en­gin­eer­ing,” a seni­or Pentagon of­fi­cial says.

Speak­ing on Tues­day, Un­der­sec­ret­ary of De­fense for Ac­quis­i­tion, Tech­no­logy and Lo­gist­ics Frank Kend­all said per­form­ance prob­lems with the Ground-based Mid­course De­fense sys­tem are the res­ult of mov­ing too quickly to field the long-range in­ter­cept­or tech­no­logy be­fore com­pre­hens­ive and rig­or­ous test­ing had been com­pleted, Re­u­ters re­por­ted.

“As we go back and un­der­stand the fail­ures we’re hav­ing and why we’re hav­ing them, we’re see­ing a lot of bad en­gin­eer­ing, frankly,” he said of the Ray­theon-built Ground Based In­ter­cept­or. “It’s be­cause there was a rush … to get something out.”

The Ground Based In­ter­cept­or is the cent­ral com­pon­ent of the mis­sile de­fense ar­chi­tec­ture for pro­tect­ing the 50 states. There are cur­rently 30 of the in­ter­cept­ors fielded in Alaska and Cali­for­nia as a hedge against any lim­ited bal­list­ic-mis­sile at­tacks by for­eign na­tions. The Pentagon is plan­ning on field­ing an ad­di­tion­al 14 in­ter­cept­ors in Alaska in 2017 as a re­sponse to North Korea’s con­tinu­ing mis­sile de­vel­op­ment.

However, the in­ter­cept­or, which is equipped with a kin­et­ic kill vehicle, has not had a suc­cess­ful test-in­ter­cept since Decem­ber 2008. The tech­no­logy’s rate of hit­ting dummy mis­siles is just 50 per­cent.

Pre­view­ing the Pentagon’s fisc­al 2015 budget pro­pos­al at an in­dustry con­fer­ence in Wash­ing­ton, Kend­all said, “We are go­ing to be tak­ing an ini­ti­at­ive in the budget to ad­dress some of those prob­lems,” DOD Buzz re­por­ted.

“Just patch­ing the things we already have is prob­ably not go­ing to be ad­equate,” the Pentagon’s chief weapons buy­er said.

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