Obama Administration To Blame For Failed Missile Defense Test


Jan. 26, 2013: The Missile Defense Agency conducted a flight test  of a three-stage Ground-Based Interceptor from Vandenberg Air Force Base,  Calif. (Missile Defense Agency)

Four high-ranking Republican lawmakers criticized the Obama administration on  Friday for three failed tests of the country’s missile-defense system, saying  budget cuts and neglect are to blame.

Sens. James Inhofe, R-Okla., and Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., along with Reps.  Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., and Mike Rogers, R-Ala., sent Defense Secretary  Chuck Hagel a letter faulting President Obama for allegedly gambling with  national security by cutting funding to the program. They claim this hampered  the ability to conduct vital tests needed to make sure the “ground-based  midcourse defense system” (GMD) worked properly and conduct regular  maintenance.

The last successful GMD intercept test was in 2008. Since then, there have  only been three attempted intercept tests and two flight tests — the most  recent of which was in January, and was successful. All of the intercept tests,  however, tanked. The latest failed test was last Friday.

“While it may take some time to reach a final diagnosis of the cause of the  July 5th test failure, it is already clear that President Obama’s decision to  drastically cut funding for the GMD program since he came to office and to  ‘curtail additional GMD development’ has drained funding available to conduct  needed tests of this system,” the letter from the lawmakers said.

In 2008, funding for GMD was close to $2 billion. By 2012, the GMD budget had  been slashed in half with more cuts projected over the next five years.

“Such funding cuts have touched every facet of the GMD program, including its  maintenance,” the letter said.

Following the latest test failure, the Defense Department released a short  statement that provided few details on what happened.

“Although a primary objective was the intercept of a long-range ballistic  missile target launched from the U.S. Army’s Reagan Test Site on Kwajalein  Atoll, Republic of the Marshall Islands, an intercept was not achieved,” the  statement said.

“Program officials will conduct an extensive review to determine the cause of  causes of any anomalies which may have prevented a successful intercept.”

Initial findings from an internal investigation found that a faulty battery  may be to blame, Reuters reported Friday, quoting an industry source.

“The initial look at the data indicates the problem was in the power suite,  with the battery,” the source told Reuters.

If that theory is proven, it would point to a component-manufacturing issue  or quality control problem, the source said.

The Republican lawmakers want the Obama administration to free up more money  so the Missile Defense Agency can conduct more tests, which includes a new  intercept test of the CE-1 Enhanced Kill Vehicle GBI.

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