The Defense Department wants congressional approval to reallocate nearly $160 million for a number of antimissile activities including a live interception trial for the troubled Ground-based Midcourse Defense system, Inside Defense reported on Monday.
A draft reprogramming request acquired by the newsletter shows the Pentagon is looking to shift almost $31 million in fiscal 2013 funds for the intercept test. The request could still be altered before it is finalized and submitted to the four congressional committees with oversight on defense issues. Objection from a single committee is sufficient to block reallocation.
Defense officials previously said the GMD intercept trial was likely to take place before June is over. The two most recent intercept attempts of the antimissile system were unsuccessful. A successful flight assessment in late January showed that new fixes to the antimissile system seem to have worked.
Against a backdrop of North Korean and Iranian ballistic missile advances, the importance of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system to U.S. national security has grown, according to the Pentagon. Earlier this year, the Defense Department announced it would add 14 additional GMD interceptors to a site in Alaska and Republican lawmakers are clamoring for the establishment of a similar site on the East Coast.
"The department is committed to increasing the defense of the homeland from missile attack," the draft reprogramming request reads. "This commitment requires a successful return to flight-testing of the GMD program."
Some lawmakers and outside observers have questioned whether the United States should be investing so much in the GMD system given its uneven testing track record and the availability of more versatile defense systems such as the Standard Missile 3, which can be placed on the Navy's Aegis destroyers, however.
In addition to the GMD funds, the reprogramming request at issue seeks $54.7 million to keep on track two planned flight trials of a next-generation Aegis system and the SM-3 Block 1B interceptor.
The department is also seeking another $3.6 million "to conduct a study to evaluate at least three possible additional U.S. interceptor locations for homeland defense in (calendar year) 2013; at least two for East Coast sites" as mandated by the fiscal 2013 defense authorization law.
The Defense Department wants congressional approval to reallocate nearly $160 million for a number of antimissile activities, and in particular a live interception trial of the troubled Ground-based Midcourse Defense system, Inside Defense reported on Monday.