Senate Committee Backs Axing New Missile Interceptor

A critical Senate committee this month proposed zeroing out funding to a next-generation interceptor that is planned to provide a crucial element of U.S. missile defenses in Europe, Space news reported on Friday (see GSN, June 17).

The Democratic-led Senate Appropriations Committee's Defense Department appropriations bill for fiscal 2012 would cut federal financing for the Standard Missile 3 Block 2B interceptor. The Missile Defense Agency had sought $123.5 million in funds for the developmental system in the budget year that begins on Oct. 1.

The SM-3 Block 2B would be the most advanced interceptor in the Standard Missile 3 family. Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Boeing are vying to become the lead Pentagon contractor in developing the system (see GSN, April 8).

Under the Obama administration's "phased adaptive approach" for European missile defense, SM-3 Block 2B interceptors would be deployed around 2020 "to help better cope with medium- and intermediate-range missiles and the potential future ICBM threat to the United States."

The Senate panel report for the budget proposal questioned the utility of funding another expensive SM-3 variant. "Each of these missiles is successively more capable and technologically complex. The committee is concerned about the high concurrency of these developmental efforts, particularly in light of the development issues that have plagued the SM-3 Block 1B missile."

The Block 1B interceptor was unsuccessful in its initial intercept trial at the beginning of the month (see GSN, Sept. 6; Rachel Bernstein, Space News, Sept. 23).

September 26, 2011
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A critical Senate committee this month proposed zeroing out funding to a next-generation interceptor that is planned to provide a crucial element of U.S. missile defenses in Europe, Space news reported on Friday (see GSN, June 17).