U.S. may have competition for new missile defense 'kill vehicle'

WASHINGTON Tue Mar 4, 2014 6:02pm EST

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Missile Defense Agency is evaluating a range of options for redesigning the current Raytheon Co "kill vehicle" on its ground-based missile defense interceptors, and may opt for a competition, the agency's director said on Tuesday.

Vice Admiral James Syring told reporters the fiscal 2015 budget included funding for the redesign effort, a new long-range radar, and other improvements aimed at helping the ground-based midcourse missile defense run by Boeing Co better identify, track and destroy potential enemy missiles.

He said early work on a new common kill vehicle by Raytheon, Boeing and Lockheed Martin Corp meant the agency could choose from three "viable industry concepts."

Syring said the decision about how to structure the acquisition program for a redesigned kill vehicle had not been made, but cost, schedule and performance would factor into the decision.

He said the agency aimed to deploy the new kill vehicle, a new long-range radar and other improvements aimed at improving the system's ability to better discern threats by 2020.

Syring said the agency's review of a July 5 intercept failure was ongoing but officials were nearing an understanding of the root cause. It was not an issue involving simple quality problems, he said.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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