U.S. Missile Defense System Stymied by 'Bad Engineering': Official

The principal U.S. system for countering strategic missile attacks has been hamstrung by "bad engineering," a senior Pentagon official says.

Speaking on Tuesday, Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Frank Kendall said performance problems with the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system are the result of moving too quickly to field the long-range interceptor technology before comprehensive and rigorous testing had been completed, Reuters reported.

"As we go back and understand the failures we're having and why we're having them, we're seeing a lot of bad engineering, frankly," he said of the Raytheon-built Ground Based Interceptor. "It's because there was a rush ... to get something out."

The Ground Based Interceptor is the central component of the missile defense architecture for protecting the 50 states. There are currently 30 of the interceptors fielded in Alaska and California as a hedge against any limited ballistic-missile attacks by foreign nations. The Pentagon is planning on fielding an additional 14 interceptors in Alaska in 2017 as a response to North Korea's continuing missile development.

However, the interceptor, which is equipped with a kinetic kill vehicle, has not had a successful test-intercept since December 2008. The technology's rate of hitting dummy missiles is just 50 percent.

Previewing the Pentagon's fiscal 2015 budget proposal at an industry conference in Washington, Kendall said, "We are going to be taking an initiative in the budget to address some of those problems," DOD Buzz reported.

"Just patching the things we already have is probably not going to be adequate," the Pentagon's chief weapons buyer said.

February 26, 2014
About

The principal U.S. system for countering strategic missile attacks has been hamstrung by "bad engineering," a senior Pentagon official says.

Countries