Saturday, July 20, 2024

The Pentagon says the US nuclear missile program is years behind budget

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The Pentagon’s plan to replace some of its aging ICBMs is years behind schedule and 81% over budget, the US military said on Monday.

The project, now known as the Sentinel ICBM program, is designed and operated by Northrop Grumman and aims to replace the aging Minuteman III missiles.

The project is estimated to cost $140.9 billion, an 81% increase over the September 2020 cost estimate.

“We are fully aware of the costs, but we are also aware of the risks of not modernizing our nuclear forces and not addressing the very real threats we face,” said William LaPlante, US Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Deterrence. Laplande certified that the project should continue, despite the high cost.

“There are reasons for the increased costs, but there are no excuses. We are already working to address the root causes, and more importantly, we believe we are on the right path to protecting our nation,” LaPlante added.

Much of the cost growth is related to launch facilities, launch centers and other processes involved in the Sentinel conversion to Minuteman III. Reuters reported that the cost of the “unmodified plan” could reach $160 billion.

The Sentinel’s new cost estimate overshadows the “minimum” $131 billion increase the Air Force made public in January.

This prompted the Nunn-McCurty Act of 1982, which required the Pentagon to formally justify to Congress the importance of a program whose unit acquisition costs had increased by more than 25 percent from baseline.

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