U.S. Missile Defense Chief Renews Push for East Coast Interceptor Sites

Mike O'Brien

The director of the Missile Defense Agency U.S. Vice Adm. James Syring said bases are needed on America’s East Coast to counter the growing threat from "Iran and other nations."

Testifying before the Senate defense appropriations subcommittee, he said the funding for FY 2014 is adequate for testing programs but the base budget may not be enough as threats change.

He also confirmed on Wednesday that the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system failed a test over the Pacific on July 5 because "the kill vehicle did not separate" from the booster rocket.

Sen. Dick Durbin pointed out that despite spending $150 billion over 30 years on missile defense, the U.S. government has not conducted a successful test in five years.

Mr. Durbin said:"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."

He added that he is particularly concerned about the fact that the U.S. missile defense system has yet to be tested against intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).

The other main concern is that the upcoming CEII kill vehicle has only been tested in simulations, despite the fact that it is currently installed on 10 of 30 rockets in the U.S. arsenal.

Asked how he would use the money he receives in the next budget, Mr. Syring said: "I would spend our next dollars on discriminating sensors, meaning big radars west and east to give us the capability to meet where I see that threat going in the next five to 10 years."

Mr. Syring confirmed that the Pentagon is considering two sites in Maine, among other locations, for interceptor stations.