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Missile Defense Interceptor Gets $1.7 Billion U.S. Budget Boost

Missile Defense Interceptor Gets $1.7 Billion Budget Boost
The Missile Defense Agency identified $2.4 billion of budget savings and seeks to shift most of that for an upgrade of the Standard Missile. Source: Missile Defense Agency

The Pentagon has shifted $1.7 billion in efficiency savings through 2016 to pay for development of a new interceptor intended to let U.S. forces hit long-range Iranian missiles, according to a congressional memo obtained from a staff member who didn’t want to be identified.

The Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency identified $2.4 billion of budget savings and seeks to shift most of that for an upgrade of a weapon known as the Standard Missile, according to a Jan. 24 memo prepared for House Armed Services Committee members by the panel’s staff. The missile agency’s proposed savings are part of $100 billion the Pentagon has said it wants to trim from overhead and low-priority items so it can increase spending on higher priority weapons and personnel through 2016.

The missile program will be announced Monday as part of the $75.7 billion research and development budget in the Defense Department’s overall $553 billion budget request for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced Jan. 6 that he would propose more money for “long-range interceptors.” He didn’t identify the program or disclose how much he would propose to spend.

Lockheed Martin Corp., of Bethesda, Maryland, Chicago-based Boeing Co., and Los Angeles-based Northrop Grumman Corp. announced they are competing for three Missile Defense Agency early concept contracts to be awarded by June 30. Raytheon Co. also submitted a bid, said John Patterson, a spokesman for the Waltham, Massachusetts-based company.

A single company will be selected in 2013 to proceed with full development and flight testing, according to Missile Defense Agency officials.

Air Defense Units

The new missile is intended to be fielded by 2020 for land-and sea-based Aegis air-defense units in southern Europe and the Persian Gulf region designed to counter Iranian missiles.

The so-called SM-3 IIB is intended to be the latest variation of Raytheon’s Standard Missile program with an improved warhead, new rocket motors and a redesigned nose cone using lighter weight material to increase velocity.

Missile Defense Agency spokesman Richard Lehner declined to comment until the budget is released.

“This competition is in the proposal-evaluation phase,” he said.

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