Northrop Tries To Save Kinetic Energy Interceptor

by: Matthew Potter
June 12, 2009

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Update — On June 10th the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) terminated the Kinetic Energy Interceptor (KEI) for the convenience of the government. This meant that all of Northrop’s lobbying to continue the program to at least conducting the first key test in the program was wasted.

Moving quickly like he has on the FCS and VH-71 programs the Secretary of Defense Robert Gates had another stop work order issued for a program recommended for cancellation in the 2010 budget. MDA told Northrop Grumman to halt the KEI program. This $4 billion contract had only recently been issued and the first test flight of the propulsion system was planned for later this year.

Congress has shown a great deal of support for this program recently and the decision to end it was not well received. There was some concern expressed that the program had not been given a chance to demonstrate its capability. The total missile defense budget saw almost a twenty percent cut with this and the Ground Based Mid-Course system making up the bulk of that money. The plan is to focus on the Navy’s system as well as shorter ranged Army ones.

Northrop has proposed that even with the termination of the program they will still be able to meet schedule and complete the booster test. This may be an attempt to sway Congressional and Administration support for continuing the program beyond 30 September 2009. If they really can meet this test schedule and the history of missile defense programs is not in their favor due to the complexities of the tests and technology then it might help them carry the program over.

A Northrop Grumman video on the program is below which is kind of amusing as it is done as a fake newscast:

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