| WASHINGTON, June 23
WASHINGTON, June 23 Raytheon Co on
Monday said it expects to soon resume production of an updated
warhead, or "kill vehicle," used for U.S. homeland missile
defense after the system successfully intercepted a dummy target
over the Pacific.
"There are no other hurdles that we're aware of, so we
expect that we will go into production shortly," Wes Kremer,
vice president of air and missile defense systems at Raytheon,
told reporters on a teleconference.
Raytheon is a subcontractor to Boeing Co on the
Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system, which defends the
United States against long-range ballistic missiles and is
projected to cost a total of $41 billion.
The system hit a simulated enemy missile on Sunday for the
first time since 2008.
Kremer said Raytheon had not been officially notified by the
Missile Defense Agency about resuming production, but the test
had clearly validated the revamped design of the kill vehicle,
which separates from the ground-based interceptor and hits an
The Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle Capability Enhancement II,
EKV CE-II, is already carried by 10 of the 30 U.S. interceptors
already in silos in Alaska and California, but it had failed to
hit its target in two previous flight tests in 2010.
The earlier version of the kill vehicle, the CE-I, which is
on the remaining 20 interceptors, failed its last intercept test
in July 2013, but the government says it expects to correct the
problem that caused that failure by year's end.
Kremer said he was not aware of any plans to test the CE-1
He said Raytheon is keen to compete for work on a new kill
vehicle design that the agency has said it plans to pursue and
field by 2017 or 2018.
"This test ... does not negate the need to do a redesign to
improve the overall reliability of the kill vehicle," Kremer
said, adding that Raytheon would use its experience with the
Standard Missile-3 to improve the GMD warhead's reliability.
He said the kill vehicles in use now were designed to be
autonomous, but technology advances since then would allow the
new warhead to be more tightly integrated into the overall U.S.
missile defense system.
Reuters reported on Friday the Pentagon is restructuring its
$3.48 billion contract with Boeing for management of the missile
defense system to put more emphasis on maintenance and
Kremer confirmed the report but declined comment on
negotiations between the government and Boeing, or the possible
timing of a new agreement.
"Clearly, in general, the wise thing to do is to write
contracts in a manner that reflects the priorities of the
government such that everybody is working toward the same goal,
and I think that's what they're focused on," Kremer said.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Paul Simao)