| WASHINGTON, March 5
WASHINGTON, March 5 The U.S. Missile Defense
Agency on Wednesday said it is requesting $1.9 billion over the
next five years to overhaul the ground-based U.S. missile
defense system managed by Boeing Co and improve its
Missile Defense Agency Director Vice Admiral James Syring
told reporters Tuesday that the agency was asking for about $300
million in fiscal 2015 to redesign the Raytheon Co "kill
vehicle" that hits and destroys an enemy missile on contact, add
a new long-range radar and fund other measures to help the
system better identify and track enemy missiles.
The agency on Wednesday provided its projected spending on
the initiative over the five-year period through fiscal 2019.
Spokesman Rick Lehner said the agency planned to spend $738
million on the redesign of Raytheon's Exoatmospheric Kill
Vehicle (EKV), with the bulk of the spending to come in fiscal
2016 and fiscal 2017.
A total of $939.5 million was budgeted for a new long-range
discrimination radar through fiscal 2019, he said.
The agency also planned to spending $198 million on new
algorithms and other measures aimed at improving the system's
ability to discriminate potential enemy missiles, Lehner said.
Syring said the missile defense system needed a "bottoms-up
design" review, as opposed to continued reliability improvements
on the margins.
The agency aims to deploy a redesigned kill vehicle, new
long-range radar and other measures by 2020.
Tom Collina, research director of the private Arms Control
Association, a Washington-based advocacy group, welcomed the
initiative to redesign the kill vehicle but said the new
equipment would not be ready until 2020. That is three years
after Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says he wants to deploy 14
additional interceptors on the West Coast, bringing the total
number of U.S. ground-based interceptors to 44.
"The Pentagon's plan to spend almost $2 billion over five
years to fix the broken national missile defense system
underscores just how unreliable the system is and begs the
question of why the Obama administration would want to expand
this system before it gets fixed," Collina said.
"Rather than rush to deploy more bad interceptors by 2017,
the administration should wait for improvements that all agree
must get made," he said.
Riki Ellison, who heads the Missile Defense Advocacy
Alliance, welcomed the planned overhaul but said the Missile
Defense Agency's budget request of $7.45 billion for 2015 was
the lowest ever requested by President Barack Obama during his
five years in office.
"Considering the growing instability around the world in
North Korea, Iran, Syria and Ukraine, along with a real need to
make our current U.S. homeland missile defense more reliable,
this is not the time to have a record low investment in missile
defense development, capability and capacity," he said.
The Pentagon's budget requested about $8.5 billion for
missile defense in total, including $7.45 billion for the
Missile Defense Agency. Previous requests for the agency have
ranged from $7.8 billion to $8.6 billion.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)