July 17, 2013
By Paul McLeary
WASHINGTON — US Vice Adm. James Syring, director of the Missile Defense Agency, confirmed today that the controversial Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system failed to intercept a dummy rocket over the Pacific on July 5 because “the kill vehicle did not separate” from the booster rocket, as has been speculated.
Testifying before the Senate defense appropriations subcommittee, Syring also told the panel that while his funding for fiscal 2014 is adequate for the testing and modernization programs that his shop envisions, the current base budget might not be adequate as threats change.
While never coming after the witness specifically, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., lobbed some harsh criticisms against the overall missile defense program, complaining that even after spending $150 billion over 30 years on missile defense, the US government hasn’t been able to conduct a successful test in five years.
Syring responded simply that continued testing is imperative to improve the program, and that for 2014, “we’re budgeted properly to do that. I won’t say that additional money won’t be required, but the budget as it’s currently structured has adequate funding to complete the development” of the older Capability Enhancement (CE) I kill vehicle and the newer, untested CE II kill vehicle.
Durbin shot back that “there are still serious questions whether or not we have a missile defense system that can protect America against threats that we believe could be coming our way,” adding that “this committee and Congress are being asked by some to expand the amount of money we spend on the systems at a time when testing has not proven that tests systems are effective.”
Of particular concern to the senator is the fact that the US missile defense system has yet to be tested against intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), and that the planned CEII kill vehicle has not been tested outside of simulations, despite the fact that it is currently installed on 10 of 30 rockets in the US arsenal.
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