| WASHINGTON, June 11
WASHINGTON, June 11 The Pentagon would reassess
its plans to put Raytheon Co's CE-2 kill vehicle on 14
more ground-based interceptors if a key test of the system
designed to protect the United States from North Korean missile
attacks fails again later this month, a top Pentagon official
Missile Defense Agency Director Vice Admiral James Syring
said the agency's highest near-term priority was a successful
intercept test of the ground-based missile defense system run by
Boeing Co, and the latest Raytheon-built kill vehicle,
which has failed both intercept tests attempted to date.
Senator Richard Durbin, who heads the Senate Appropriations
Committee's defense subcommittee, asked Syring during a hearing
on the agency's budget whether the contractors on the program
were helping foot the estimated $1.3 billion cost of redesigning
the kill vehicle after repeated test failures.
Syring said the government had already docked Boeing's award
and incentive fees, and had structured its latest contract with
the company so it could "go back retroactively" and recoup
earlier fees in the event of another failure. No details were
provided on the extent of the fees lost by Boeing.
Syring underscored the importance of the test, and said it
would be closely watched by U.S. allies and foes alike.
He said the agency would carefully investigate and correct
any simple test problems. But he said another failure of the
newest Raytheon kill vehicle, the Capability Enhancement-II
Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV) would be a different matter.
"If it was another kill vehicle problem, which would now
make us 0 for 3 on this design, I think you would see us taking
a step back and assess taking delivery of the EKV that we're
planning to take upon a successful flight test," Syring said.
He said the agency had stopped accepting the Boeing
ground-based interceptors, pending a successful intercept flight
test. Deliveries would resume if the test went well, he said.
Senator Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican, said the test
was planned for June 22, as reported by Reuters last week.
Syring said each intercept flight test of the GMD system
cost around $200 million, and the test this month was structured
to be "very operationally realistic."
He said each of the 14 additional interceptors being added
to the 30 interceptors already in the ground in Alaska and
California by 2017 would cost about $75 million.
Delivery of those interceptors was put on hold after a test
failure last July involving the earlier version of the Raytheon
kill vehicle, CE-I, which had succeeded in three earlier tests.
Syring said the agency was also developing acquisition plans
for a new long-range radar to help identify threats, and planned
to award a contract for the work in fiscal 2015.
He said the agency was also on track to award Raytheon a
contract for 52 more Standard-Missile-3s this month.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal. Editing by Andre Grenon)