Magazine article Arms Control Today

PAC-3 Production to Continue despite Program Shortcomings

Magazine article Arms Control Today

PAC-3 Production to Continue despite Program Shortcomings

Article excerpt


DESPITE FAILURES IN each of its last four intercept tests, production and deployment of the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missile defense system should continue, a senior Pentagon official said June 20.

Lieutenant General Ronald Kadish, who oversees U.S. missile defense programs, expressed disappointment that PAC-3 had fallen short of expectations in recent testing but recommended that U.S. deployment of the ground-based, tactical missile defense system not be halted. "We ought to proceed putting that weapons system in the field as soon as we possibly can," the general stated in a public briefing.

Kadish urged continued deployment of PAC-3, which is designed to intercept shortand medium-range ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and aircraft, because the United States has "no capability out there today that is the equivalent of the Patriot-3."

The Army announced last year that it had PAC-3 missiles ready for deployment, and now more than 20 are stockpiled for use. Low-rate production of the system is ongoing, and a PAC-3 program official said, "We do not anticipate a break in production."

Kadish stated that fixing the problems revealed by the recent testing, which he said were "not severe," and continuing production and deployment could be done together. "The decision on Patriot is to work out the difficulties we found and improve the system over time and build as much as we can afford in the process," Kadish said.

After missing only one of 10 targets in developmental testing, the PAC-3 system experienced problems in every operational test conducted between February and May. In operational testing, actual soldiers participate in testing the system under more realistic battlefield scenarios than those conducted by contractor personnel in developmental testing.

Three of the four operational tests involved simultaneously launching multiple Patriot missiles, both PAC-3 and the earlier PAC-2 versions, at multiple targets. …

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