The U.S. government has already spent $98 billion since 2002 to
develop a complex, layered system to defend against enemy ballistic
missile attacks, with an additional $38 billion to be spent through
fiscal 2018, according to the report by the Government
But continued problems with key aspects of the program, including
the ground-based midcourse defense managed by Boeing Co, could drive
the costs of U.S. missile defense system even higher in coming
years, the GAO said.
The report also faulted the U.S. Missile Defense Agency for what it
called "unreliable" and incomplete cost estimates, and recommended
steps to improve the agency's schedule baselines.
The report said the agency made some significant progress with its
acquisition programs in fiscal year 2013, including the first
operational system-level flight test involving multiple elements of
the Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS).
However, two key programs — a new missile developed by Raytheon Co
for the sea-based Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense system and
Boeing's ground-based system — had test failures in 2013 and further
issues to resolve, the report said.
The GAO said the failure of an SM-3 Block 1B interceptor in a
September 2013 flight test means that a key component may need to be
redesigned, necessitating additional flight testing.
It said there had been three flight test anomalies with the current
tied to the recent test failure, and officials were now considering
The July 2013 intercept failure of the Ground-based Midcourse
Defense (GMD) system meant the program was not able to see if
software upgrades planned for the entire fleet of ground-based
interceptors were effective, it said.
The Missile Defense Agency earlier this month announced plans to
redesign the kill vehicle, build a new radar and make other changes
to improve the reliability and performance of the GMD system in
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The GAO recommended additional flight testing for both programs, and
urged Frank Kendall, the Pentagon's acquisition chief to delay full
rate production of several hundred SM-3 Block 1B missiles until the
testing proved the missile was effective.
The report also recommended the agency test the Raytheon kill
vehicle that failed to separate during the July 2013 test of
ground-based interceptors once the cause of the test failure was
determined, since that interceptor served as the primary defense of
the United States against enemy missile attacks.
The report said the Pentagon partially concurred with the report's
recommendation for further testing of the SM-3 Block 1B missile, but
said the decision to test the Raytheon kill vehicle would be made by
the head of the Missile Defense Agency, based on the judgment of top
Pentagon officials and combatant commanders on the need for a test.
The agency has said it plans to test an updated version of the
Raytheon kill vehicle this summer, but has not announced its plans
for the version of the kill vehicle that failed to separate from the
third stage of the rocket last July.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; editing by Bernard Orr)
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