Senator Objects to Scrapping of Missile Defense Program

U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) yesterday labeled the Missile Defense Agency's decision to shut down the Kinetic Energy Interceptor missile defense program "irresponsible," the Huntsville Times reported (see GSN, May 8).

The program sought to build a system that would shoot down enemy missiles shortly after launch. It could be fielded in Europe, Japan or the Middle East, among other areas, according to the newspaper.

However, Defense Secretary Robert Gates had warned that unproven programs might be cut from the fiscal 2010 Pentagon budget, which would reduce funding for missile shield activities by $1.2 billion. The Missile Defense Agency on Monday issued an order to halt work on the Kinetic Energy Interceptor.

The program employed roughly 80 Huntsville-based employees of defense contractors Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin.

"Terminating the only practical boost phase missile defense capability our nation has in development is misguided," Shelby said in a letter to Lt. Gen. Patrick O'Reilly, head of the Missile Defense Agency. "Stopping work on this program now is irresponsible"

In a statement, Shelby's office argued the program "provides critical ballistic missile defense capabilities and strategic flexibility to protect against constantly evolving ballistic missile threats.

"With over $1 billion already invested in the project and $135 million in funding remaining for fiscal year 2009, no justification was provided for MDA's decision on KEI, which is just four months from a flight test," the statement added (Shelby Spires, Huntsville Times, May 13).

May 14, 2009
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U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) yesterday labeled the Missile Defense Agency's decision to shut down the Kinetic Energy Interceptor missile defense program "irresponsible," the Huntsville Times reported (see GSN, May 8).