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U.S. Cuts THAAD Acquisition Plans

The U.S. Army could receive three fewer Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense firing units and 66 fewer interceptors than previously planned under Defense Department spending plans, Inside Defense reported on Friday (see GSN, Feb. 14).

The budget proposal calls for deployment of six firing units, Lockheed Martin THAAD program head Mat Joyce said. The Obama administration has called for a $1.8 billion reduction in THAAD program spending from fiscal 2013 through fiscal 2017, according to a previous report.

"That is something that is going to be subject to discussion and debate [in Congress] over the next few months, but that is the current number for the U.S. government," Joyce said.

The United States previously intended to deploy between nine and 11 units, Joyce's predecessor Tom McGrath said in September.

Joyce said interceptor manufacturing speeds appear likely to "stay around 36 per year for some time."  The Army intends to procure 230 interceptors from fiscal 2013 to fiscal 2017, a quantity 66 weapons below last year's projection.

The United States appears set to construct 42 THAAD interceptors in the current budget cycle, records indicate. McGrath roughly two months ago said the nation would probably build more than 48 of the systems in fiscal 2012.

The transportable THAAD system is intended to eliminate short- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles both within and outside the Earth's atmosphere.

Lockheed Martin late last year said it had received a deal worth nearly $2 billion to construct THAAD components for the United States and United Arab Emirates (see GSN, Jan. 3). The defense contractor indicated the deal might increase the effort's longer-term viability.

"Additional [international sales] could positively impact cost reduction as well," Joyce stated two weeks ago.

"There is obviously additional interest in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf area that we continue to pursue," he said, declining to identify particular governments. "I'd say there is also interest in the Asia-Pacific region with some countries there that we continue to pursue, but probably the most near term would be another Middle East country."

"We've hit our marks delivering the 24th missile for the first [U.S. Army] battery in December," he added (Jen Judson, Inside Defense, March 9).

Note to our Readers

GSN ceased publication on July 31, 2014. Its articles and daily issues will remain archived and available on NTI’s website.

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