Raytheon Co.’s project to develop a new interceptor warhead for the U.S.’s ground-based missile defense system is estimated to increase in cost by almost $600 million because of “major design concerns” since the contract was awarded, according to congressional auditors.
The company received a $1 billion contract in May 2017 for the project, which is unsuccessful so far and at least two years behind schedule, the Government Accountability Office said in a report issued Thursday.
It’s the watchdog agency’s most detailed assessment of problems for the improved warhead that it said is supposed to respond to “advancements in the North Korean missile threat.”
The program has “encountered design, systems engineering, quality assurance, and manufacturing issues,” the GAO said. It said Raytheon is using commercial off-the-shelf hardware and re-used components from Navy missile interceptors that the GAO previously raised concerns about, according to the report.
The Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency accelerated work on Raytheon’s “Redesigned Kill Vehicle” by producing it even while it was still in development and by “reducing the number of necessary flight tests to produce and field” new interceptors, the GAO said.
The $600 million increase is the amount the Missile Defense Agency estimated “it would cost to recover” from the “performance issues the program discovered in late 2018 concerning the re-use” of parts and components, said Cristina Chaplain, the GAO official who supervised the new report. “These issues greatly unsettled the program and drove” the expected two-year delay. (end of excerpt)
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