Deficiencies In Missile Defense System Put US Homeland At Risk, Audit Says

Concerns about failures to properly improve the accuracy and effectiveness of the Missile Defense Agency’s (MDA) ground-based missile interceptors have been raised in a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) audit report at a time when nations across the globe — including China, Russia and North Korea — are developing ballistic missile capabilities.

The GAO audit details three separate flight tests of the GMD’s Capability Enhancement I (CE-I) interceptor and the upgraded version called the Capability Enhancement II (CE-II) in which both interceptor designs had issues with their guidance systems.

The CE-I and CE-II are ground-based exoatmospheric kill vehicles are engineered to intercept incoming ballistic missiles outside of the Earth’s atmosphere.

The GMD system was developed to defend the United States from a limited intermediate and intercontinental ballistic missile attack. After three consecutive test failures between December 2010 and July 2013 and no credible proof of improvement of the system by the Department of Defense (DOD), it’s unclear whether the new missile defense system is reliable enough to protect the American homeland.

“These test failures along with other delays and concurrent acquisition activities have raised questions about the reliability of the GMD system,” the GAO found.

The most concerning problem with the GMD program is that the MDA moved forward with CE-I and CE-II interceptor production before completing its flight-testing program. Because these interceptors were being produced and deployed without proper reliability testing, DOD faces costly decisions on how it will implement corrections from test failures after post-missile deployment.

GAO’s latest assessment of DOD’s report revealed that while DOD described actions to improve the missile defense system, it has not provided any detail on the effects of such actions, raising concerns that “acquisition of improvements” to existing platforms has not yet occurred.

“For example, the report stated that MDA has upgraded the software of the entire fleet of CE-I and CE-II interceptors to improve their operational performance, but it did not describe the effectiveness of these improvements or whether these improvements have been confirmed to work as intended in flight tests,” GAO said.

Full article: Deficiencies In Missile Defense System Put US Homeland At Risk, Audit Says (HS Today)

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