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STRATCOM chief: More missile defense tests necessary

Jul. 31, 2013 - 09:26AM   |  
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The recent failure of a ground-based missile interceptor out of Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., means the nation needs to test more, not less, according to Senate leaders and the top general in U.S. Strategic Command.

Air Force Gen. Robert Kehler said the July 5 test of an interceptor, attempting to take out a missile launched from the Kwajalein Atoll, was an “old problem” in the targeting system, and the Missile Defense Agency needs more tests to work on the system.

“I am still confident that the system will perform in its limited defense role,” Kehler said July 24. “But I’m concerned with the recent test failure and I would like to see more testing done.”

Ideally, Kehler said he would like tests to be done yearly, but that would not be possible due to budget constraints. Still, Kehler said he remains confident in the system of 26 interceptors, which are placed at Vandenberg and Fort Greely, Alaska.

The call for more tests has been echoed by a key lawmaker: Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., said the administration and Congress have not placed enough of a priority on missile defense, and the resources need to be available for additional testing.

Ayotte went further, reiterating the call for an East Coast-based missile defense site to counter the threat of Iran. Military leaders have said there was “no validated military requirement” for the site.

Kehler said he was looking into the possibility of the site, but said he believed the existing missile defense structure could protect the nation.

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