Senate Appropriators Allocate $500M Extra to Missile Defense Agency

Senate appropriators on Thursday unanimously approved increasing the U.S. Missile Defense Agency's fiscal 2013 budget by more than $500 million from the spending amount sought by the Obama administration (see GSN, Feb. 14).

The Defense Department had originally requested $7.75 billion for the agency, which oversees the bulk of U.S. antimissile efforts.

The $500 million in proposed extra funding includes $190 million for more Standard Missile 3 Block 1B interceptors, according to an Appropriations Committee press release (Senate Appropriations Committee release, Aug. 2). The panel also delivered $163 million for the purchase of an additional AN/TPY-2 ballistic missile tracking radar, according to Bloomberg Businessweek (Tony Capaccio, Bloomberg Businessweek I, Aug. 2).

In addition, the Senate Appropriations Committee backed an extra $194 million for procurement of more Patriot Advanced Capability 3 air-defense interceptors.

The committee signed off on total fiscal 2013 defense spending of $604.5 billion, almost matching the White House request for $604.6 billion. The legislation will come up for a floor vote after Congress returns from its August recess.

The House in July approved its version of the defense spending bill, which would provide a total of $605.8 billion for core and overseas operations. Fiscal 2013 begins on Oct. 1 (Senate Appropriations Committee release).

Senate budget writers allocated approximately $400 million in continued funding for the controversial Medium Extended Air Defense System, the National Journal reported (see GSN, June 28; Sara Sorcher, National Journal, Aug. 2).

In approving funding for the experimental battlefield antimissile technology, the Senate Appropriations Committee opted to honor the wishes of the Obama administration and to ignore the example set by the House Appropriations Committee and both chambers' Armed Services panels, which all voted to end funding of the program.

The MEADS technology is being jointly developed with Italy and Germany. Even though the Pentagon in 2011 said it had no intention of purchasing any MEADS units when they become available, it still asked Congress for one more year of program funding in order to avoid the more expensive penalties that would follow an early contract pull out and to maintain good relations with Berlin and Rome.

The antimissile technology was intended to replace Patriot air-defense systems and envisioned as having the ability to protect troops from hostile fighter planes, tactical ballistic missiles, and cruise missiles.

The Senate Appropriations defense subpanel on Tuesday recommended allocating $380 million of the Pentagon's $400 million ask for the MEADS initiative in the coming fiscal year, Bloomberg Businessweek reported. The subcommittee also ordered the Defense Department to choose whether the new funds would help to finance a "proof of concept" technology test or to meet the contractual obligations necessary for the United States to exit the MEADS partnership (Tony Capaccio, Bloomberg Businessweek II, July 31).

The Senate Appropriations Committee said it had approved Obama administration funding requests for development of next-generation ballistic missile submarines and bomber aircraft, along with work on prompt global strike capabilities intended to give the military a non-nuclear option for quickly eliminating transitory targets anywhere in the world (see GSN, Feb. 14 and Aug. 1; Senate Appropriations Committee release).

August 3, 2012
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Senate appropriators on Thursday unanimously approved increasing the U.S. Missile Defense Agency's fiscal 2013 budget by more than $500 million from the spending amount sought by the Obama administration.