Cost Overruns Led U.S. to Ax Tracking Satellite

Global Security Newswire Staff

Enormous projected cost overruns played a big role in the axing earlier this spring of a Pentagon plan to place new missile-tracking satellites high above the Earth, Inside the Pentagon reported.

The Precision Tracking Space System was intended to provide the United States with indications of missile flight paths in near-real time. The satellites were to be placed into orbit at an altitude of 930 miles -- a height that would have meant the sensors would have routinely traveled through areas of space with large amounts of radiation capable of battering the sensitive technology, Congress' Government Accountability Office concluded in an April assessment.

The Defense Department determined that attempting to make the satellites radiation-resistant was too much of a technical risk to take. A required independent assessment found that the satellites could cost up to $17.5 billion over their complete lifespan and, in the short term, almost two-fifths above what the Missile Defense Agency projected.

The department is presently researching options for supplying the missile-tracking capabilities that the canceled PTSS satellites would have provided, a GAO report released on Thursday said.

Separately, the U.S. Army has selected a firm to carry out construction work for a Standard Missile 3 interceptor site at Deveselu Air Base in Romania, Stars and Stripes reported on Wednesday.

Kellogg Brown and Root received the $134 million contract to construct buildings and supporting infrastructure for the 269-acre interceptor site.

In 2015, two dozen SM-3 Block 1B interceptors are to be fielded at Deveselu as part of the U.S. contribution to the ballistic missile defense of NATO.